Can’t decide on what to bring for your camping trip? Or double checking if you have a reasonable amount of food supply before you head out?
In this article, we’ll help you bust the main camping mistakes that many people (including you) may be guilty about and show you ways on how to break such bad habits.
1. Lack of Campsite Familiarization
This is something that usually happens to first-time campers. The idea of going to a new place is overwhelmingly exciting that you no longer bother researching about where you’re going. However, nobody wants to be caught by a nasty surprise. In other words, always ask yourself these, Is the place far from where I live? Is it usually greeted by a bad weather condition, etc.?
If a campsite is far from where you live, then you should of course know what typical weather conditions are for the campsite, at the time of year that you’ll be visiting. However, even if a campsite is relatively close to home you should still check for typical weather conditions for the camp area, due to micro-climates.
It’s also wise to:
- Verify campsite information on your nearest National Park Service (NPS).
- Pay attention to what park rangers’ say and jot down notes on campsite rules and regulations.
- Check if there’s any accessible bathroom or comfort room in the area, as call of nature can happen anytime.
- If you have kids with you, strongly advise them to NOT catch small animals or insects as this may be against the National Wilderness Preservation System (NWPS).
2. Not Bringing What You Need
Once you set your eyes on something new, it’s easy to forget about everything else as far as adventure is concerned. While bringing your favorite things to your campsite is anything but normal, take note that showing off shouldn’t be your main priority, especially when something unexpected occurs.
With this being said, you shouldn’t fail to bring with you items that are of utmost necessity. Who knows? Your 4×4 may suddenly experience a flat tire. In this case, you should automatically leave a room for your inflated spare tire. If you suddenly find yourself fixing your vehicle in the middle of the night, make sure you have your flashlight.
Some camping tools often but should NEVER be forgotten are:
- Utility Knife
- Headlamp (Alternative to Flashlight)
- Box of Matches
- Peanut Butter Jar
3. Dependency on Gadgets
Sure, we understand that gadgets are now considered a necessity. Why not? If you’re in a hurry and would like to leave an important message to your friends, you can instantly give them a direct phone call. If you want to relax while working on-the-go, you can just bring with you your laptop and type anywhere you need to, as long as you have a stable WiFi connection. Then, there’s your trusted Google Map, when traveling to unfamiliar zones.
This may all sound convenient indeed. But don’t forget that technology isn’t always there to guide you every step of the way. For example, there are remote places or campsites that are automatically out of Global Positioning System’s (GPS) area of coverage. If things can get worse, it also sometimes leads you in the wrong direction, due to a signal reflection from very tall trees and mountains.
Because you don’t want to experience such a hassle, make sure you have:
- A Map
- A Compass
- Spare Batteries
- A Wrist Watch
4. Testing Valuable Equipment Only on the Exact Camping Day
Yes, admit it or not, there are times when you feel lazy to try your newly-bought equipment for your camping trip. After all, it looks so “easy” to operate so why shouldn’t you just test it on the actual day of your camping? While the thought of let tomorrow worry about itself saves you the possibility of experiencing stress in the meantime, it can lead to an excruciatingly, long-term one in the future, when backing out is no longer an option.
Did you buy a new stove? How ‘bout a new tent? If you have a new stove, make sure that you learn how to operate it; how many minutes does it take to cook meat? Does it automatically alert you when it’s done cooking? For the tent, find out how to set it up in advance because some manuals that go with it are difficult to understand. Determine where it’s supposed to be mounted and familiarize yourself on the purpose of each mounting part or accessory.
Testing your appliances or equipment beforehand is important because:
- Some defects can be easily spotted through visual examination (i.e. surface dents, side cracks, etc.)
- Some defects are only noticeable by running the equipment (i.e. overheating, sparking, etc.)
- Doing so saves you time and prevent a possible future injury.
5. Packing Too Much Stuff
Believe it or not, packing too much stuff is actually driven by these two culprits; paranoia and laziness. When you’re paranoid, you tend to over-analyze every situation, because it gives you the presumption that danger lurks in every corner. As a result, you have an unsettling feeling that can only be pacified when you gather as many important items as you can. On the other hand, when you’re lazy, you become too comfortable to the point that you believe everything’s going to be perfect. In the end, you’ll be caught off guard by an unpleasant surprise.
Being a boy scout or girl scout isn’t a bad thing, especially if you’re staying outdoors for a very long period. As such, there may even be instances when you need an extra pair of rubber shoes, set of clothes, or food supply, the moment an emergency strikes. you must also have:
- Food Containers
- Paper Cups
- A Folding Table
- Pins for Clothes
- Extra Pair of Socks
- Set of Underwear
But keep in mind to travel light. To do this means you only have to bring those you’ll need and an adequate amount of extras, so as not to accidentally make your trip a dragging one. Find out what other items you can bring when you check out Tent Camping 101: Tips for Beginners.
6. Improperly Setting Up a Campfire
The truth is, setting up a campfire isn’t really as trivial as it seems. And you may be surprised that there’s still a handful of new campers out there who commit a huge mistake in this matter because they think that simply collecting wood logs or lighting up a few sticks with a match automatically does the trick.
Some of these mistakes also include:
- Insufficient Fire Wood Supply
- Not Monitoring the Fire Activity
- Letting Kids Go Near the Fire
- Immediately Adding a Huge Wood Log
- Improper Fire Pit Construction
Take note, if you aren’t careful enough in doing it, you could risk hurting yourself or in some worst-case scenarios, you could even start a forest fire. To prevent causing any trouble or danger, remember to use a fire ring that’s reasonably away from trees and grasses. If you no longer want to use your campfire, always set aside a pail of water to help you quickly extinguish it. Check out more campfire building tips here.
7. Carelessly Leaving Leftovers Behind
Ever heard of the saying, “Clean as you go?” Even though you may have heard or read about it a thousand times, there are still moments when you’re guilty of leaving your unfinished food behind. And by the time dusk steps in, there are a lot of wild animals that roam round. Some of them include but are not limited to bears and foxes.
You’re lucky if you’ll be able satisfy their belly with your typical leftovers. But if not, sometimes they can feast on your arm or any part of your body. So, the best way out of such danger is to NOT LEAVE scraps or excess food in the open. Take your time to put everything in a secure storage or disposable bag and lock it (unseen) in your 4×4.
8. Late Arrival on Campsite
Going camping is no different from booking a reservation in a hotel. This is because you also pick an available time slot that’s most convenient for you to settle in. However, unlike in a hotel, where guests could check in almost any time of the day, campsites usually accommodate guests in the afternoon because they give a grace period for previous campers to clean up, before letting a new batch comes in to fill their place.
Since time is of the essence, make sure that you strictly follow your schedule. If you had booked at around 4:30 PM, you need to leave your point of origin at least 1 hour and 30 minutes beforehand. Why? Sometimes campsites have a strict time policy that once you’re late in your schedule, they’ll automatically forfeit your reservation.
To avoid cramming and being late:
- Pack your things a day before your camping trip.
- Sleep early.
- If your campsite takes about three hours of travel time, from where you live, it’s best to leave two to three hours in advance. This is to ensure that you don’t get stuck in heavy traffic or special events that may affect road closure.
- Speak with or call your traffic enforcement authorities about possible route alternatives, a day before your camping trip.
9. Not Bringing Thick Sweaters and Other Comforters
Yeah, the place doesn’t look too cold is a common misconception among campers until they eventually shiver out in the cold at night. Never forget that temperatures are different in the afternoon and at night, which means there’s a huge chance you won’t be able to last long, if you don’t have the right protection.
Because of this, see to it that you either bring sweatshirts and hoodies that’ll help you withstand the biting cold. You must also bring:
- Thicker Blankets
- Sleeping Bags
- Ear Muffs
These ensure you don’t freeze to death and that you’ll still be able to sleep properly at night. For other ideas on how to get a good night’s sleep in nature’s company, read A Camper’s Guide to Sleeping Under the Stars.
10. Never Coming Up With a Plan C and D
They say you should always think two steps ahead of your enemy. And this means you need to come up with a plan b, in case your original plan for your camping fails. For example, if you’re planning on driving your 4×4 on your camping trip with friends, someone must be willing to offer his or her 4×4 instead, if yours will suddenly experience an engine malfunction.
While having a plan b is a smart move, having a plan c or even plan d is smarter. In this case, if you’re friend’s 4×4 won’t also be unexpectedly available on your camping day, perhaps it’s okay for you guys to have your trip rescheduled for some other time (plan c). Or if you’re really persistent, you can also rent someone else’s vehicle for the job (plan d).
Whether you’re a new camper or an expert one, committing mistakes is all part of every adventure. But it shouldn’t stop you from going out and having the time of your life. Now that you know the 10 camping mistakes to avoid and how to fix them, you can dodge those rocks and hurdles that may come your way. Comment below and let us know what you think.
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