The Complete Guide to Fun and Practical Camping for Beginners
As a dad, you know you and your family definitely need a break from city life.
You're more than ready to trade your bus pass for a compass, your car for your own two feet, and you want to replace the view outside of your office with stunning natural waterfalls -- not skyscrapers.
You want to take your family on an unforgettable camping trip -- and give your kids the camping bug.
The only thing standing in your way?
You're not exactly the most outdoorsy type.
Don't worry -- our camping for beginners guide is here to help. In it, we'll help you understand what to pack, where to go, and even what decisions you need to make beforehand in order to have the best experience possible.
1. Pack Light
Perhaps the most essential part of learning how to go camping?
Figure out how you can pack as little as possible. Remember that everything you bring, you'll likely have to carry (especially as the father.)
And even if your family's version of camping involves renting an RV/camper van or errs more towards the "glamping" side of spending time in the great outdoors?
You should still aim to pack light. Camping, remember, is about testing yourself to see if you can survive with the bare essentials. It also offers a wonderful break from technology and forces you to define the things that truly are the most important to you.
For example, do you really need to bring your laptop?
Or, would that space in your bag be better suited for an extra pair of hiking boots or a few parkas for family members in case a rainstorm hits?
Make a list of packing priorities, and then, start making cuts.
Especially if you have over-packers in your family, make it a contest to see who can bring the least amount of stuff.
2. Plan Meals Ahead of Time
Campfire food is just one more way that family tent camping tests your culinary skills and teaches you how to live with less.
To avoid bringing too much -- or, perhaps far worse, too little -- food, plan out your meals ahead of time.
Remember that canned foods like beans, corn, or even canned fruits are easy to pack and prepare. The same thing goes for jerky and energy bars. Don't worry about pulling off fancy open-flame meals when you're still mastering camping for beginners.
We know that dads love any excuse to grill.
So, stick to simple staples like hot dogs, smores, and cooking chicken and other meats in foil packets.
These camp-friendly recipes are surprisingly simple and much more nutritious than you might think.
Assign every family member a different task to help get the meals ready. Above all, make sure you follow the golden rule of camping: leave no trace. (AKA, clean up after yourselves!)
3. Bring a Navigation Device and a Physical Map
Another essential aspect of the beginners guide to camping?
Make sure you do everything in your power to avoid getting lost -- especially if you're bringing along young children who might get scared.
First of all, always let a few friends or family members know where you're headed, even if you're not exactly going off the beaten path. It's just wise to have a few checks and balances in place.
Next, consider investing in a GPS navigation device. Smartphones may have great mapping systems when you're in the city, but often, service is spotty in the woods.
Remember that you may lose your GPS device, or even fail to get service in certain areas. You may find that it runs out of charge, as well.
That's why it's so important to give everyone who is coming along with you a physical copy of a map of the area. Make sure you laminate these maps in case it starts raining while you're out on the trail.
4. Know Your Necessities
Especially when you're camping for beginners, you need to be honest with yourself about the kind of experience you want to have -- and the necessities you'll be completely miserable without.
For example, are you thrilled by the idea of abandoning modern comforts like bedding and hot water, and surrendering yourself completely to the wilderness for a few days?
Or, would you prefer a secluded trail that has lodges and cabins that give you a great place to rest every night (and the chance to take a real shower?)
What about air conditioning? Especially if you're camping with kids, will a lack of cool air make them completely miserable? Will it be tough to keep to their sleep schedules if they don't have a bed?
These are incredibly important things to consider. Often, being honest with yourself about what you need to be comfortable and happy prevents serious camper's remorse.
While it's important to challenge yourself, especially if you're entirely new to camping, you don't have to go full throttle right away.
5. Study up on the Weather
Next, make sure that you've taken the time to understand what the weather will be like during your trip.
First of all, this will seriously inform your overall packing list. But, depending on the kinds of trails you're interested in, it will also help you to determine the best routes.
On a muddy day, we're willing to bet that your family won't be too thrilled with hiking an uphill dirt path.
If the weather is especially hot, you may want to plan your route so that you'll end up near a lake. Everyone can jump in and cool off after a long morning hike.
Knowing the weather will also help you to determine what time you should get started on your hikes. You may want to avoid storms, or just stay out of the sun.
Now is also a key time to mention the importance of proper sun protection. Invest in hats with wide brims, and wear plenty of sunscreens. You may even want to invest in some sun-protective clothing, especially if you're going out during the spring or summer.
In case someone still gets burned, you should also pack some aloe vera. Nothing ruins a camping trip quite as quickly as a miserable, painful sunburn.
It's up to you to do everything you can to avoid that.
6. Consider Protection
The great outdoors is incredibly beautiful and has so much to offer families of all camping experience levels.
There are stunning natural waterfalls, lakes, rock formations, and of course, sky-high trees.
One of the things that people enjoy the most about camping? Having the chance to experience nature -- especially wildlife -- up close and personal.
To that end, it's important to understand the risks associated with potential animal attacks. Start by doing a little research, and get to know the main predators in the area where you're planning on going camping.
Understand how you can limit your exposure to these animals, such as by properly putting food away and staying in your tent at night.
You may also want to consider getting protection in the form of firearms for your family. Even though it's likely that you'll never actually end up using your gun, even just having it on you can make everyone feel much safer.
Plus, it's not just animals that you have to worry about.
Sometimes, other people out on the trail with you can pose just as much of a threat as wild creatures do.
It's always better to be safe rather than sorry.
Accessories by brands like Rise Armament help you to keep guns stored safely, and ensure that they'll work perfectly in case of an emergency.
Make sure you talk to your family about the importance of behaving responsibly and respectfully around firearms. You should absolutely pick up a gun lock, and make sure that your gun is unloaded before you go to sleep every night.
Ready to Give Camping for Beginners a Try?
We hope this post has helped you to realize that camping for beginners doesn't have to be complicated to be tons of fun.
The truth is that even just a few hours of preparation and planning can make all the difference in the world.
So, what else can you do to get the most out of your next camping vacation? What other travel tips and tricks should you consider? Which other stunning destinations should you check out?
As a father, how can you be the best possible example for your kids?
We've got the answers to all that and more.
No matter how you parent or what aspect of fatherhood you want to master, keep checking back with us to make it happen.