Start your journey here with our top tips for first time camping.
I have more years of exploring the outdoors in the UK than I care to count, now with many of us postponing our oversees holidays, I have put together my top tips for first time camping.
If you have no camping gear first step is to set a budget. Ask a friend if they have anything you can borrow, check Ebay for a second hand bargain, try Freecycle or your local Facebook selling groups. It’s also a good idea to get what you do need out of season and be sure to look at the previous years models. Winter and spring, you’ll have more choices at a fractionally lower price and be sure to check out the summer sales. If you have to buy a tent, don’t skimp too much, you will require a robust shelter rather than one of those single pop up tents in your local supermarket. If you can go for a high-head tent, this will make a world of difference or at a minimum save your back from breaking.
A 4 man tent can feel more like a three-man tent once you’ve accounted for all your equipment. Make sure you choose a tent big enough for you, the camping crew and all the necessities. To ensure you enjoy your first time camping, getting the right accommodation is key.
So you have your camping packing list all ticked off and waiting for you by the car. Start off stress free and make sure your tent and all the essentials are the first things you can get your hands on when it’s time to unpack. Try setting it up at home first especially if you haven’t been through this process before.
Sorry if this is an obvious one… but whatever the month, it’s cold outdoors in the UK at night. Pack blankets and layers to keep you warm, you don't want your first time camping ruined by a sleepless night in the cold. Fleece is your friend for those cold camping nights, so invest in some warm PJs. Layer up before the chill hits, don’t wait until your cold to put on an extra zip up it will take you longer to get warm. Thermals are available everywhere and a must have on your trip. Although Vogue may not want to picture you in your thermals and hot water bottle I promise you, you’ll feel like Moss on the runway after you’ve woke from your cosy slumber ready for the outdoors.
If you can, also insulate the tent ground as much as possible with rugs, carpets or thick blankets. Your children’s foam tiles and yoga mats work too!
I promise you the outdoors won’t judge your hair or beard… so leave the curlers, trimmers and straighteners at home. Electric hook ups come with a cost and limits your choices on campsites. I recommend keeping the electrical devices to a minimum and go for a solar charger to charge those essentials. Remember you’ll need lighting too, there are lots of different options just make sure you have some. Campfires are one of the highlights especially when it's your first time camping you want to get it right, if you haven’t already, watch some videos on how to build them safely. Avoid relying on this solely for cooking, the rain and wind can often create challenges, so save the fire to roast the marshmallows.
Don’t forget to test your electrical equipment before leaving!
Our next camping tip is plan for the worst and hope for the best when it comes to weather. Extra layers, water and wind proofs, wellies and warm socks will ensure you are set for a great trip.
Most campsites will be able to give you walking routes, local pubs and a list of activities in the area. Be sure to make a plan of how you and the campers spend your time and keep a few tricks up your sleeve for down time. Pictionary, board games, cards, football, a kite, whatever it is you enjoy have some ideas to keep the teams spirits up, it will make a world of difference on a cold rainy day/night. Because it's so important we have a games collections, with a range to suit your first time camping trip and the many more to come.
Get to the site early to avoid the spot right next to the loos and so you aren’t pitching up in the dark. Go for a level patch to put up your tent and use your ground sheet to judge whether the space is big enough. Avoid setting up close to hedges, under trees, by power lines or at the bottom of a hill (you’d be surprised what can come tumbling down)
Each campsite offers a different experience, do you want to be by the sea? Or the countryside? How far do you want to venture? Wild Camping? Facilities? Prioritise what you want and then find the site that fits. Wherever you choose to go for your first camping trip will determine whether or not you and the tribe camp again. Whichever landscape you dream of for your first time camping - head there!
In the essentials box pack a first aid kit, duck tape, matches, antihistamine, pen knife, guy ropes, extra tent poles/ pegs, batteries and local taxi numbers. Anything could happen whether it’s a gale-force wind unsteadying the tent or a fall following one too many beers your box of tricks will help save the day.
Embrace the outdoors and open yourself to a different experience. It can be daunting for the first-time campers especially if you have young children. But so long as you’re prepared you can tackle any challenge.
Tidy your food away at night, foxes and pests just can’t keep away. Respect the outdoors and take your rubbish home or dispose of it safely.
If you have any other tips for first time camping please let us know!