Ah, family camping trips: the chance to commune with nature, bond with your loved ones and create lasting memories. What could go wrong? Lots, actually. Lack of planning and preparation could turn your dream holiday into a real nightmare. Here's how to avoid some of the more common camping mistakes.
1. Not Testing Out New Equipment
Picture this: in anticipation of the big family camp out, you invested in a deluxe portable gas barbeque. You’re excited to fire it up at the campsite to feed the hungry kids when you realise, all too late, that the thing doesn’t work. Uh oh. Failing to test out new equipment is one of the biggest mistakes that campers can make. With anything you take out camping, you want to make sure you know how to use it before hand; set up a new tent in your backyard, learn how to use that BBQ and climb inside a new sleeping bag to make sure it’s big enough before you set out on your trip.
2. Storing Toiletries In Your Tent
Most campers know that keeping food in your tent is an open invite for a furry friend slumber party. But other products may also entice critters. People often forget that things like toothpaste, insect repellant and soap can attract animals, so kKeep all personal-care products safely locked away in your car or in the same dry bag you use to store your food.
3. Arriving In the Dark
It can be frustrating to set up camp in the dark, especially if you’re staying on an unfamiliar site. Try to arrive during daylight hours to give everyone a chance to find the toilet and get the lay of the land. Of course, arriving after dark is sometimes unavoidable (hello, long-weekend traffic). In those cases, try using head lamps to light the way so your hands are free to set up equipment.
4. Underestimating the Weather
Funny thing about the weather – it rarely seems to listen to the daily forecast. You could look at the weather report, see that it’s beautiful and leave the raincoat at home. Then it starts to rain on day two and you’re stuck. Always pack rain gear for every member of the family and plan some rainy-day activities to keep everyone in good spirits until the storm passes. And don’t forget extra socks.
5. Not Packing a Repair Kit
Nothing puts a dampener on a camping trip faster than a leaky tent (pun absolutely intended). Luckily, you packed your handy dandy repair kit, right? Here’s what you need:
- extra rope
- metal pole
- sleeves to reinforce bent tent poles
- sewing kit to patch up rips and tears
- roll of duct tape
- extra pair of shoelaces (in case your first pair breaks)
6. Skimping on Food
Taking just enough food for the duration of your trip could leave you in a tight spot if something goes wrong. For example, let’s say you’re going on a hiking trip, someone twists their ankle and you have to stay an extra day. You should also have a plan B in case someone accidentally burns the pancakes or drops the sausages right into the fire. Pack one extra day’s worth of meals and a stash of snacks and energy bars, just in case.
7. Forgetting a First-Aid Kid
A well-stocked first-aid kit could save your trip from ending miserably at the nearest emergency room. Check the contents of your kit to replace expired medications and to ensure you have everything you need.
8. Keeping a Messy Campsite
It’s wonderful to spot animals in their natural habitat, but not so much fun to find them feasting on the contents of your cooler. Leaving food and trash strewn about your campsite can attract unwanted visitors and ruin the experience for everyone. If animals eat your food, it’s not healthy for them and could also be a problem for future campers because animals can become habituated to getting food at the campsite. Avoid this problem by keeping meal supplies and garbage locked away in your car, or strung up in a dry bag on a designated pole or tree.
9. Showing Up Without a Campsite Reservation
You probably wouldn’t show up to a hotel without a reservation and expect to get the room of your choice. The same goes for campsites – particularly in the busy summer months. Avoid disappointment by reserving your campsite well in advance.
10. Focusing on the Challenges
No doubt about it, a properly planned camping trip requires some work. But getting too caught up in the chores could mean you’re missing out on all the fun. Take in what’s around you. Camping is an opportunity to step out of the everyday. Taking pleasure in tasks such as heating up water to wash dishes and prepping the fire to cook a meal will make your family camping trip that much more enjoyable.