A camping trip can be a delightful excursion for seeing the great outdoors, as well as a wonderful way for families and friends to spend time together in a relaxed setting at a relatively low cost. Campgrounds abound all over the world, but they are especially popular in well known tourist and vacation destinations. Whether camping near a fairly large city, in a secluded forest in the mountains, or near a windswept beach, a successful camping trip is always dependent upon the planning involved.
The first consideration in planning any camping trip is the weather. While some hearty souls opt for winter camping, most people camp during the summer months when the children are out of school and the air is warm and inviting. A spring trip, while beautiful, can be uncomfortable due to spring rains, mud and allergies. An autumn trip is nice because most of the insects are usually gone by then, but temperatures can be chilly. When planning your trip, always check weather forecasts a few days before you leave. Even the loveliest campground can be miserable in inclement weather conditions.
Every camping trip requires a checklist of items to bring along. These items include clothing, shelter, sleeping gear, food, safety and first aid equipment, and an emergency plan. Make sure you bring some sharp pair of scissors or a utility knife, just in case. If you're camping with kids, the same rule applies-keep sharp objects away from children for their safety and yours.
Clothing for camping is largely dependent on the weather, but even in the summer it is wise to bring clothing for both hot and cold temperatures, as well as rain gear. Choose clothing that is made with wicking materials that wick moisture away from your skin. These materials will easily keep you cool and dry if necessary. Avoid jeans and cotton of any kind. Bring a few more clothes than you need and plenty of extra socks.
Shelter might include anything from an R.V. to a tent to a makeshift shelter of branches and a tarp, depending on your idea of roughing it. Whatever you choose, make sure you know how to use it properly and see that it keeps the rain off your sleeping area. Sleeping gear isn't complicated, but the sleeping bag you choose should fit the season. Sleeping bags range from lightweight bags for hot weather to thick bags made for sub-zero temperatures. Bring the bag that's right for the weather forecasted on your camping trip, and if there is any concern about staying dry, consider purchasing a waterproof shell.
Bring whatever food is pleasing to you: burgers and hot dogs for grilling, sandwich material, or simply granola. Just make sure you also bring the necessary clean up and storage materials as well. You're also going to need at least a sharp hunting knife for cutting your food, tree barks, or when tying ropes and securing a tent. A dull knife can cause accidents, so make sure you get around to sharpening it before you go on your trip. If you will be camping near your car or in an R.V. of some kind, food storage won't be a problem; however, if you'll be staying in a tent and keeping your food outside, bring gear to secure the food at night. Wild animals are very adept at getting into coolers and crates, not to mention tents, in search of food. To avoid a midnight rendezvous with a curious raccoon or grumpy bear, put the food in a container that will mask the scent as much as possible, then secure it with ropes high in a tree. Make sure it is high, but hanging, so tree-dwellers won't have easy access.
Safety is essential on every camping trip. Bring along a first aid kit and go over any safety procedures with everyone in your party. In this day and age of high tech communication, it wouldn't hurt to bring a cell phone in case of an emergency. Keep it turned off if you prefer, but it will be there if necessary. At the minimum, have an emergency back-up plan. Leave information at home or with friends about where you will be and when to expect you back, and make sure everyone in the party knows what to do and where to go if there is an injury or if someone gets lost.