Tips for going camping the first time
Following on from our blog about our recent camping trip (if you can call it that) we thought we would share our recommendations on what you need to consider when going camping for the first time.
Picking the campsite
What are you looking for in a campsite? Do you want a pool, activities, bar, or do you want something more quiet and peaceful? We chose the latter for our first trip. It did have a small shop and café, which was open until 8.30, unfortunately the weather was awful, and without having our own space to sit and stay dry in, we really could have done with having a bar open later so we weren’t in bed by 9!
It also goes without saying that you need to pick a dog friendly site. Luckily many sites are, which makes choosing easier. You should also bear in mind if the facilities are also dog friendly, the café on our site was, some may not be!
Choosing a tent
Now beggars can’t be choosers. We were lent our tent, which was great for a first trip and to see if we liked it before taking the plunge and spending lots of money! If you have this option available to you – use it.
Having spent some time in our lent tent we came up with a few essentials on buying our own. Firstly we would buy a tent with one bigger sleeping area to accommodate 2 folding beds and a dog bed. A larger living space able to take a table, chairs and room to swing a cat would also be appreciated. We would also want it to be a bit taller so we could both stand up in it comfortably with a big window to see out.
When looking for a tent make sure it has lots of strong guy ropes that come from all angles of the tent. If you read our previous blog you will understand the importance of this. Also check what sort of pegs it has, you will need pretty substantial ones to guarantee your tent really is secure.
We would, after our experiences, recommend getting a camping bed, preferably with a camping mattress. They are pricier than a blow-up, but when you factor in the pump, potential for a puncture and comfort factor we think they are worth it!
As a first trip we didn’t bother with a sleeping bag. To be honest, I find them uncomfortable and I felt I needed more time than my 5 minute shopping trolley dash to choose the right one. You don’t really need one in the summer, which is the only time I would suggest trying camping out for the first time!
We took our regular duvet and pillows along with some extra blankets just in case. We also packed some socks and extra layers should we feel the cold at bedtime.
We cheated here. But to be fair if we were staying in a hotel, we would have done the same thing – eat out! Our site had a café open for breakfast where you could buy a cuppa for £1 a breakfast bap for £2.50 and a Full English £5.50. We were often out at lunch, thankfully Cornwall is full of pasties so it need not cost the earth! We then spent evenings tasting the local cuisine, of which there are a lot.
On a first trip I would suggest eating out rather than spending a fortune on gas cookers, plastic plates, a cool box etc. However if you are on a budget, eat items that don’t require prep or cooling/ heating such as fruit, crisps and bottled drinks. You can always grab a cheap bag of chips to tide you over!
There are a few things I would say are a must, a battery powered light or lantern and ideally one that isn’t bright blue/ white. When you’re sitting in your tent having a read you want nice lighting. A book, some playing cards or a game is great to keep you entertained into the evening.
Flip flops are all really useful. You can slip them on and off and it doesn’t matter if they get wet. If you’re unsure of the cleanliness in the shower you can also keep them on while you wash.
A waterproof coat, umbrella and wellies. We didn’t take any of these. It was a mistake! The British weather is changeable and it is no fun being caught out.
An extra blanket, thick socks and extra layers are all helpful to keep nice and warm. If you get wet or have a particularly cold night, even in the summer, it’s good to have back up.
Earplugs and an eye mask may also be useful if you’re a light sleeper.
Should you try camping?
We would say yes! There is something lovely about sleeping under canvas. Waking up, unzipping the tent and being in the fresh air is a wonderful experience. The camaraderie of fellow campers is something hard to find in everyday life.
Catch up with our next blog where we cover the important things to think of when camping with your dog!