What To Do First
All those who are thinking of going out for camping and heading for the great unknown would be well advised to follow some basic tips otherwise the trip is going to end up as a disaster. Wherever a person may be in the world, there is a good chance that a camping site is nearby, except the obvious ones. There are even group excursions advertised in local directories, newspaper classifieds and on the internet.
Traditionally, the process of going out on camping starts by taking a decision about the place to visit, preparing for it and paying the fees for the selected camping area. It is important to note that if the place is very busy then personal preferences regarding the choice of the area may not be available. It is a good idea to check the availability of the site well in advance if it requires pre-booking.
This especially holds true during the peak holiday seasons. Generally the basic necessities such as fresh water, shower, and toilet, among others are going to be nearby. Other facilities may also be available, but it depends on specific camping sites. In some cases the facilities provided are very important. For example if a lot of cooking would be needed then the campers need to know whether or not there are restaurants or cafes on the site or nearby.
If the camping area is close to the home, it is better to visit there and check the site personally. This will help avoid any nasty surprises while camping. Different rules are applicable at different sites, especially regarding noise levels, children, pets and fires. These are important issues to check before leaving home.
Camping Gear / Equipment
A holiday can be ruined or be remembered for years to come depending on how well organized it was. For this reason it is necessary to double check everything. There may be various tasks and it is a good idea to allocate them to all the family members. There are about three options with some of the equipments which are to borrow it, rent it or purchase it. It all depends on whether or not it is a one off trip, and the available budget.
It is generally priced reasonably and comes in many sizes. If it is purchased, hired or borrowed, the main factor to keep under consideration is its size. It should be completely waterproof with proper ventilation and accommodate the number of occupants who are going to use it. Each person and their gear should get sufficient space inside the tent. No one would want to wake up in the morning feeling the dampness all around. This would require ensuring adequate ventilation in the tent.
If the camping tent has an outer layer that is waterproof including an inner liner and a ground sheet, then it would be adequate for the purpose. Modern varieties of tents are so simple to erect that even a single person can do the task without problem. As a good preparation measure, a trial run of putting up the tent is highly recommended, especially if it is a purchased or borrowed tent. There is no way anyone can guarantee good weather conditions at a particular site. The bad rain or wind condition can play havoc with the camping, so it is important to practice putting up the tent before going outdoors.
Sleeping Bag / Air Mattresses
This is going to be purchased because generally it is not available for hiring, neither people prefer to lend it. Nowadays, there are affordable sleeping bags available. However, an expensive variety may be needed if the trip is being planned in the middle of the winter. Unless the person is extremely hardy, a mattress with inflatable base will be needed.
Kids are quite happy with just a rubber mat that can be rolled up. But thicker mattress may be needed for older people. While it is okay to carry the pillows, at times it can be quite bulky to carry them around. One idea is to use a pillow case stuffed with extra clothing and use it as a pillow at night.
Lighting / Lanterns / Flashlights
Overnight lighting may not be necessary if someone is a good sleeper and does not have any problem moving around in the dark. But most people, especially the young children are going to need some type of lighting to feel comfortable.
One of the simplest and affordable lights is the one that uses the battery power. It is important to place it in a secure container. There should be sufficient lighting inside the tent so that one can move around without hitting something or someone. A battery-powered overhead light may be needed if there are young children. From the points of safety concern it is better to avoid lights that use paraffin or oil.
For many people until a camp fire is lighted, it cannot be called a camping excursion. BBQ is also a good option. However, being a holiday it is better to avoid cooking and washing up and rather find a restaurant or a cafe nearby.
Campfires & Cooking
If the idea is to light a campfire then some charcoal and firelighters would be needed. Volunteers can be sent to collect kindling and wood which would make it easy to light up, especially if the weather is dry. It is important to check the wind direction before building the fire. No one would want to let the smoke or sparks blow towards the tent. There are various methods that can be used to build a fire, but safety concerns should always be a priority. The fire should be started small and build up as needed.
Some stones or bricks can be laid out in a circle. This can be used to contain the fire and to enable the placement of a metal mesh over the top to cook after the flames have died down. Mesh clamp with two handled variety is a very useful gadget to have at such a place. Food can be simply placed between the mesh, closed and left to cook. For this type of cooking, potatoes are a good option. In this, the foil should be three or four layers because the heat can even pass through the foil and burn the spuds.
Cooking meat pieces of large size like chicken quarters should be avoided because its outside may be burnt while the inside of the meat may remain raw. The open fire cooking is best for preparing chops, kebabs, steaks, fish, bacon, sausages and burgers. Once the cooking is complete the stones can be removed and an evening around the fire can be enjoyed by all. If the fire is going to be left early then to extinguish it some earth should be put over it. For this purpose water should never be used.
It is a good idea to use small gas BBQ grill which are not that costly to purchase. It can even be borrowed. It is perfect for boiling the kettle and cooking all meals.
Having Food Fresh
Campers can carry some cooler boxes if there are local shops around the camping site that can make the ice available. The ice can be used in these boxes which can be then used to keep the food fresh. When it comes to fresh produce like milk and meat, it is important to keep them well chilled. Beers may need extra cooler boxes.
Campsite Living Area
If a family tent is going to be used then there should be enough space just inside the entrance to store outdoor gears such as rucksacks, coats and boots. In such a place there is no possibility of setting up a dining table for six, so there should be enough area inside to relax and eat when the outside weather turns bad.
To avoid getting caught in bad weather it is important to be prepared. Cooking can be done earlier to eat later in the tent. The foods that can be cooked quickly like burgers should be selected. This will avoid the BBQ being lit most of the time spreading unnecessary smoke and smell. There is no need to feel despondent when the weather turns bad. Rather it provides an opportunity to cozy up with other camping members.
Safety / First Aid
No one wants to suffer a mishap, but such a thing can occur at any place without warning. It is better to be prepared rather than rue it later on. A plastic container can be used to store all the essentials. Small first aid kit can include antiseptic, bandage, plaster, among other such items.
The kit can also include:
Large crepe bandage
Antihistamine for allergies or bites
While it is great to have mobile phones around, to preserve their battery life it is better to switch them off when not needed. This way there would not be any problem when an emergency call has to be made.