10 Worst camping mistakes and how to avoid them

Camping is without a doubt one of most popular family bonding activities out there. It is also an excellent way to get out of the city. Yet, even the most experienced camper has been known to make a mistake every now and again. Some mistakes are things that you may think were obvious in hindsight, while others are maybe things you would have never considered otherwise.

Regardless, all of most common camping mistakes are avoidable if you know to anticipate them ahead of time. We have some ideas that could help save your next camping trip from disaster.

1. Not checking with Mother Nature

Cloudy at the camping ground
Cloudy at the camping ground

While you may have thought to check the weather forecast before venturing out, there is also the undeniable fact that checking the weather does not always mean that mother nature has checked the weather and she may have something else in mind. Maybe your weather forecast is showing a week of sunshine. That does not mean you should leave your rain gear at home.

Regardless of how much sun the area normally gets, you absolutely need to have rain gear in your tent for everyone along on the camping trip, as well as some activities to do in case you really bad weather keeps you all stuck inside the tent. It will keep everyone’s spirits up; no one likes to be cold and miserable.

2. Not Leaving on Time

Many campgrounds have a set check-in time for when you can arrive to get set up. These times will always be in the afternoon. The reason behind that is to give the previous campers time to pack and get out, and allow the next camper to unpack while it is still daylight. Daylight is key. Pitching your tent in the dark is a nightmare. Not only will you be at a disadvantage in figuring out the layout of your site, but you will have to paw through the dark to find the bathroom. Go early, set up in the light.

3. New Equipment

Getting new equipment is always exciting for the avid camper. But packing the new camp gear unopened and untested is a big mistake. You could have brought a portable stove with the intention of cooking, get to the campsite and discover you do not have the right fuel for it. Or maybe you bought a new tent, but made it to your campground without poles. Always test out your camp gear before you go.

4. No Reservations

Didn’t book into the campground? You could find yourself with stuck without a pitch.
Didn’t book into the campground? You could find yourself with stuck without a pitch.

If can be fun to go camping on a whim, but you have to understand there is a risk that you will not be able to get a campsite. Just like trying to get a hotel room without a reservation, a campsite without a reservation is a gamble. It is better to plan out your camping trip ahead of time, book the site that you know you want, and get the time frame you want. It will be far less stressful and disappointing than heading out without knowing for sure you will get a spot.

5. Forgetting Backups

Whether it is backup batteries or backup tarps, having extras of some essentials can really save your hide when you are in a bind. Maybe you remembered your flashlight, but the batteries are dead and now you have no light at night, except your cell phone which is about to die too. Solar lanterns are a good solution for the battery dilemma, but ideally, knowing which batteries you need ahead of time will save a lot of trouble.

6. Taking Wildlife for Granted

We all know that there are animals out in nature. Even at state run campgrounds, there will be creatures who are aware that people bring food to eat that they would like to get their paws on. Because of their invisibility during the day, it can be easy to forget about the foragers out there. But do not count them out.

Take steps to not attract wild animals into your campsite – always scrub the cooking pots and secure food before turning in for the night
Take steps to not attract wild animals into your campsite – always scrub the cooking pots and secure food before turning in for the night

Bears are more than happy to make off with your food and toiletries. Keep them secure at night. Ideally, food and toiletries should be kept in your car, and not your tent at night to not only ensure that the bears and other creatures won’t get in, but also to ensure that they do not become interested in your tent.

7. Forgetting Food

You may have thrown in snacks, but did you remember food for every meal for every person camping with you? If you haven’t planned meals ahead of time you may find that you are short on food, making hungry, grumpy campers. It’s no fun having to either drive out to find food, which will undoubtedly be hiked up in price, or forget the camping trip and head home early. Just do simple meals that are easy to cook, easy to clean, and that will give you enough calories to keep your energy up.

8. Packing the Wrong Tent

Having enough room in the tent is the no.1 comfort consideration
Having enough room in the tent is the no.1 comfort consideration

You may have read on your tent that it sleeps four. But to most tents that means if everyone is laid out like sardines, elbow to elbow, leaving zero room for your bags or anything else you want to keep in your tent. For your own comfort, make sure that the tent is bigger than the amount of people you have with you. Also, a single person tent is just that: a tent for one person. A couple will not squeeze well in there.

9. Keeping Everything Tidy

Keeping your campsite tidy does not just mean storing your food in the car at night. It means ensuring you pick up your trash and dispose of it nightly, keeping it away from pests. This also includes keeping the inside of your tent clean by leaving shoes outside of the sleeping section of the tent and never inside. You will also be more comfortable if you keep the zipper of the tent all the way closed at all times. This will help keep the bugs out.

10. Skimping on Clothes

Be prepared for a drop in temperature at night
Be prepared for a drop in temperature at night

Even if you are camping in the summer, you need to consider packing for cold weather. Sleeping outside means you are exposed to the elements. Often, the temperatures will drop at night, leaving you freezing when you get up in the morning. This includes: warm socks, jackets, hats, and gloves. The temperature may rise when the sun is up, but don’t freeze all night if you can avoid it.

The best thing to remember is to prepare as best you can before setting out. While you can’t predict everything that can go wrong when you go camping, predicting enough things can ease any possible irritation, letting you and your family have some old-fashioned camping fun.

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marion-fernandez is one of the authors writing for Outdoor Revival