Camping is essentially for those of us who love the outdoors and can do without all of the comforts of home for a short while. However, just loving the outdoors is not enough to guarantee that the experience will be a fun one. The essentials of having fun in the great outdoors are preparation and an open mind. Preparation is easy, if you follow some simple rules.
When you are getting ready to plan a trip, you must select a convenient time that will give you flexibility of one to two days. This will make the trip more about you, and less about your timetable. You may run into weather problems or you may just want to camp for an extra day. Next, choose a location and make it specific. Don’t just choose a county where you saw a campground. Call the campground or the park office and get reservations or information about the time you have allotted. Many parks are happy give you information and tips about what to expect. The most complicated step in preparation is making a list of what to bring. Making a list is essential and your list will change dramatically the more you trips you take.
The first thing you need to put on your list of things to take is the things that will get you there. If you are hiking to a campsite, list the number of backpacks. If you are simply driving to a site, list the number of cars. Then you must plan your shelter and sleeping situation.
Remember, tents are a luxury and heavy to carry. Hikers usually bring a plastic tarp that can shelter up to four people. With a tarp, you can tie it between trees for cover from the elements. Many time you won’t even need that but you can always lay the tarp on the ground to designate a clean sleeping area. After this has been set, you will go over what food you will need. We stress need here. Stray from fresh produce and meets because they spoil easy and their scent attracts animals and insects. Stick to dried food and canned items. Canned items will add weight, but they are more calorie rich and very easy to cook in multiple situations. Most of your food should be snacks, so that you don’t have to cook very much. Trail mix and yogurt covered raisins will fill you up more than you think, and they are a cheap alternative to buying food from camping stores that hike up the price on dried meals.
The last things you will put on your list are what will make you comfortable. Minimal clothing is best. One of each type of outfit is best. One pair of shorts, pants, sweatshirt, tee, and a couple pairs of undergarments including socks is enough. One poncho will take up minimal space. Small LED flash lights will get you around at night if you stray from the fire. Then make sure you have some things to keep you busy. Books, playing cards and a nerf football are all light and can be very entertaining for hours on end. As long as you don’t start dragging along things that aren’t meant for the outdoors, you should be fine. Remember that everything will be at home when you get back. Most importantly make a not of the things you didn’t use and the things you wished you brought. That will make each trip you take more enjoyable and different than the last.