Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Camping Tips

I'm camping right now, left Sunday morning and will be back sometime Wednesday, so, I thought I'd share some camping tips I thought of. Camping is a lot of work, but just like anything with a little effort, it can be worth it. And it's a lot of fun, too! And in this economy it actually can be a cheaper way to take a vacation. What hotel are you going to get for only 20 to 25 dollars a night?

Here are tips that I follow for a successful camping trip:

Research. The first thing you should do when planning a camping trip, is do some research. Research campgrounds based on different factors. Asking questions like: Where do you want to camp? Do you want to stay in your own state, not to far from home? Or do you want to travel to another state? What activities do you want to focus on while camping? Fishing? Hiking? Swimming? Think of what kind of camping experience you want, and then research campgrounds that meet your criteria.

Reservations. Once you find a campground that looks good, make a reservation. Sounds like common sense, right? But I have seen people show up at campgrounds, without a reservation only to be turned away. Why take the chance of driving all the way to a place, with a car full of stuff and probably some cranky kids, only to be turned away. Make a reservation! I remember when I first started camping about 16 yrs ago. Some places actually didn't take reservations, you did have to just show up and hope and pray you get a site. But today you can make reservations some places up to 6 months to a year in advance! And many are starting to take online reservations. So it really is important to plan ahead, especially on holiday weekends.

Make Lists. Get organized. Organization is one of the keys to camping. I've been camping so many times, when I go shopping I have standard things I buy. After years of writing out lists every time I went shopping I know exactly what I need to get. But also now with computers I typed a master list of Camping Food I need to get at the supermarket. And I have a list of Camping Equipment, so I can make sure I don't forget anything. (see my one of my previous posts for a starter list of things you may need: Camping Equipment.)

Make do with what you have. Even with lists and trying to be organized, there usually is always something you do end up forgetting. Don't get upset about that. You just have to learn to be inventive. For example last time we went camping, we forgot the colander. We needed to drain the noodles, so we just scooped out most of the noodles with a spoon and then drained the water carefully. If you forget something you need just try to come up with a solution using something else you have. That's part of the fun of camping!

Make traditions. If you find a campground you like, why not make it a tradition every year to go back? We go on little camping trips throughout the summer. But then we do go on one big week long one too. Every year we say we are going to try somewhere different for this week trip. But we like this particular campground, so we always end up going there. We end up feeling like "it's nice there, we like it, the kids like it. Why go somewhere else we don't know is good or not, when we know this one is good. That's our tradition. Other traditions are always making smores, fishing, hiking, etc.

Go camping on weekdays. I know it's easier to go camping on weekends or holiday weekends. I do that too. But if at all possible and you have some vacation time, plan your trip on weekdays. Campgrounds can be less crowded, quieter, and the beaches are also less crowded. I like people and like other campers, but sometimes it can be more fun if it's a little less crowded. The weekends get a lot more people and can make it noisier.

Have fun! The last campground I went to listed a bunch of rules (which you should read and try to follow), but then they said the number one rule is: To relax, and have fun! Camping can be a lot of work, but if every one pitches in and helps out and can be a lot of FUN!

Happy Camping!