6 Tips For You First Camping Trip

Camping can be a beautiful experience, because you get to relax without expectations. Plus, it's a really cheap and attainable way to incorporate travel into your lifestyle. Casey and I decided to go camping on a whim at the end of the summer last year. Out of nowhere, she called me from work to say we should go camping. We didn't even own a tent. So the next day I bought a tent and some air mattresses and the next day we were camping. And just like that, we were hooked.

After a few trips I'd say we have really gotten the hang of it. By the end of the year we had learned a lot. We realized we could actually cook over a fire and we had to learn how to make a fire. (Hint: if you end up being somewhere between campers and glampers like us, just bring some fire starters with you. It'll make your life easier!) But that first time, we were clueless! We figured there were others out there who would benefit from some camping tips, just like we would've. So here are a few things we wish we had known from the beginning!

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1. Buy a tent that's big enough. This was the first mistake we made when we started camping. We weren't even sure if we would like camping so we bought a cheap 4-person tent. It was a good decision then because tents can get pricey. If you end up hating camping then you'd be in a pickle if you spent a good chunk of money on your equipment. Our problem is with that tent though is that we were camping with 3 dogs and 2 people.

When it comes to tents, you almost need to double the amount of people who will be camping. Especially if air mattresses are involved. We ended up upgrading to an 8-person tent after a few trips. Our old tent would've only fit 4 people if they were basically sleeping on top of each other. Our new one only takes a couple extra minutes to set up and is there perfect size for us and all the dogs! The point? When it comes to tents, size up.
2. Book the right campsite. I am writing a whole blog post about this, but really you just need to decide what kind of place you want to camp in and then find it. It can be overwhelming the first time you are looking for a campsite. For our first trip we came close to booking a primitive site that you had to hike a mile to. A mile isn't that far, but after our first trip we were so glad we didn't go that route. I can't imagine trying to get all our gear and 3 dogs a mile out and then possibly forgetting something in the car. For us, having the car right next to us is crucial and as of now we wouldn't have it any other way. Stay tuned to our next camping blog post to see exactly what we look for in a campsite and campground.
3. Decide what you need to be comfortable. This will be different for everybody. Casey and I both use air mattresses and like to have a fan- which means we need electricity. Some people are fine sleeping on a tiny camp pad. Neither is right or wrong, it's all up to you!

If you really need your memory foam pillow to sleep and it fits in the car, bring it. If you want to put makeup on everyday that you are camping- do it. If you want to wear the same clothes everyday- so be it. There is no right or wrong way to camp. If you want to be comfortable, figure out how to do just that.
4. Don't plan too much. One of the best things about camping is that there doesn't have to be an agenda. On a lot of our trips we just sit in hammocks and/or by a body of water and eat food. We don't plan it, but that's all that happens and it's great.

We accidentally went on a hike on one of our camping trips and definitely think that's a fun thing to do while you're camping. If you're an avid hiker, maybe you'll want to make sure you're staying near a nice place hike. But if you aren't into hiking, don't force yourself to do one. Just make sure that no matter what you decide to do on your trip you leave room for spontaneity!
5. Be prepared for all types of weather. When you are sleeping in nature, you really start to become involved in the weather. By the end of your first trip you will more than likely know more about humidity, sun, wind and nightly low temperatures than you ever wanted to. But you are out in that weather 24/7 and you are going to want be prepared.

We always carry an extra tarp and rope with us in case it rains. We, luckily, have NEVER dealt heavy rain while camping, and I'm sure it would be a nightmare. So an extra tarp is crucial to hang above your tent and keep it dry.

Another weather related note- even if it is the middle of summer, check the low temps and pack accordingly. Casey and I camped in Florida last year which was our favorite camping trip to date! But we never imagined that we might be cold there. It's Florida, after all. We went to the beach and were hot all day in the sun. But then one night it got down in the 50s and neither of us had the right clothing. Casey ended up driving into town to buy sweatpants.

6. Plan for no cell service. Most state parks are in areas where cell service is less than desirable And no surprise, there probably won't be wifi. However, most of the state parks have a lodge near the campground which usually has wifi. It's a good idea to figure out where the lodge is or how you will obtain cell service in the event of an emergency. If anything the lodge can let you use their phone, so just figure out where you'd go if you needed to make a call or use wifi.

We have a couple more camping posts coming to you soon, so check back regularly if you want to learn more about camping!

xo, Savannah

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