Camping for Beginners and Novices: Four Tips on How to Prepare and Plan Your Trip for Your Next Camping Vacation

Camping is a great vacation. It is not only inexpensive, but it also gives you an opportunity to relax and spend time with your family without distractions. Unfortunately, camping also leaves a lot of room for disappointment, especially for someone who hasn't camped much. These four tips and tricks for camping vacations can make everything go smoothly.

Assuming you are camping with your car nearby (rather than backpacking into a remote location), know that your camping vacation will be much better if you bring more than you need. You'll likely want several supplies, and nothing ruins the fun more quickly than forgetting something or running out. A first-aid kit, sandals for campground showers, plenty of food, extra waterproof matches, mosquito repellent and, of course, toilet paper are all important to have -- and more important is to have more than you need. It is far better to take some extra camping supplies home than to run out while in the woods.

You'll also want to ensure your comfort. One easy thing to forget is a good camping chair. Whether sitting around the campfire or just watching the stars, parking yourself on stumps, dirt or even a sleeping bag will get uncomfortable in a remarkably short time. Even if you plan to keep busy on the trip, you'll still want someplace comfortable to take a break. For the night, make certain you have more room in the tent than you need. A warm sleeping bag and even air mattress can also make the trip more relaxed.

Getting sick is a fast way to ruin your trip. The fastest way to get sick is drinking contaminated water, so make certain to boil or filter any water, no matter how clean it seems. Don't forget to pack some hand sanitizer. Washing your hands isn't always easy in the woods, and the sanitizer can at least help -- especially if a campground's "comfort station" is a long way away from your campsite.

Lastly, prepare for your next camping vacation by planning ahead. If you're staying at a campground, make reservations far in advance. (You may not have camped before, but lots of others have. Popular campgrounds fill up quickly.) Set up the tent (or erect a pop-up trailer) at home before you go. A few practice runs will help you avoid frustration -- a lousy way to start off a camping trip. It also will help you create a shelter more quickly if you end up arriving in foul weather or after dark. Along with planning ahead comes a good checklist. Make sure to mark items off before you leave so you don't find yourself driving back into town.

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