Camping is an inexpensive and adventurous way to discover new landscapes and get back to nature – and the summer is the perfect time to get out and give it a try.
We’re sharing our top tips to help you plan your camping trip and make it fun, relaxed and comfortable when you get there.
Finding the best campsites
If you are planning a short weekend-long adventure, you’ll probably want to spend it all at one campsite – for longer trips, travelling around the country and staying at several camps along the way is an opportunity to explore some of Britain’s best landscapes.
Pitching a tent
Your tent is your home away from home when you go camping – it’s where you will sleep, keep your belongings and even occasionally take shelter from the rain.
Take a tent that’s larger than you need – if you are camping with 4 people, look for a 6 or 8 person tent because it will give you some extra room to store your luggage and other belongings that you need to hand.
Pick up some hard ground pegs, an extra tarp, mallet and brush; this will make it much easier to pitch your tent when you get there and keep it clean and fastened to the ground as your camping adventure goes on.
Pitch your tent in the back garden before you go; if you’re trying the tent for the first time, it’s a chance to work out how to put it up – saving yourself frustration and potential arguments when you arrive on site. If you’ve used your tent before, it’s even more important to put it up before you leave to ensure you have all the pegs, poles, ropes and other pieces you need.
On site, look for higher ground – dips are where water pools first when it rains and if your tent is right on top can make for a distinctly unpleasant experience. Choose the most even patch of ground you can find and make sure it’s far enough away from any potential hazards like the campfire or a riverbank.
Planning for a good night’s sleep
Getting a good night’s sleep is a major concern for most campers – there are few things worse on a camping trip than spending the night shivering, cold and uncomfortable inside your tent.
Check the temperature rating of your sleeping bag and make sure it’s suitable for the time of year you’ll be camping and can keep you warm even when the temperature drops. A hot water bottle placed in the bottom of your sleeping bag will help keep your feet warm as you sleep. A set of earplugs will help block out any sounds that might disrupt your sleep, and an eye mask will block out the sunlight and help you get a few extra precious hours when the sun starts to rise.
How comfortable your sleep is also depends on what you’re sleeping on top of – an airbed is an obvious choice but can sometimes do more harm than good. If you do go down this route, make sure you have a sturdy air mattress that holds its air and will give your back support overnight. Camp beds on the other hand will raise you off the ground so you don’t feel any lumps and bumps. Simple self-inflating mats are great if you prefer a firm bed or need a harder surface for a bad back – you benefit from the firmness of the ground with a little extra padding and insulation to keep you comfortable.
Foam floor tiles – often used in playrooms – arranged across the surface of the tent will make the ground more comfortable and easier to clean as well.
There’s something about eating delicious, fresh food outdoors that can make any meal gourmet. And while you might not have all the trappings of your kitchen back home, that doesn’t mean your meals need to be simple. A small barbecue or single burner stove will enable you to cook warm meals – especially good in the evenings when the temperature drops.
Plan your dishes ahead and prepare dry mixes, spice rubs and any other bits before you go to make cooking easier when you’re out in the elements. Hard cheeses in waxed packaging – like aged cheddar, Parmesan and Gruyere – don’t need to be refrigerated and can save precious space in your cooler. Empty tic tac cases make perfect small containers for salt, pepper and other spices and freezing your milk before you leave home can double as an ice pack and help keep it cold as the weekend goes on.
Making life easier
Packing a few versatile essentials will make life easier and help ensure you’re ready for anything while you’re out camping.
Think about where you’re staying and what you’ll be doing – do you have activities to entertain any children that might be travelling with you and do you have essentials like a raincoat, warm sweater and swimsuit? Be intentional when packing and think about what you’ll need to do everything from cooking to washing up.
A torch, tin opener, bin bags, water container, pocket knife, matches, wet wipes, wash basin, duct tape and water container are just a handful of the essentials campers often need and forget to bring – packing these up with you means you’ll be ready for anything that arises on the go.
What are your top tips for planning a camping adventure?