Everyone likes to have fun while camping, but inevitably, some trips turn into disasters. It might be because you didn’t choose a good location, or because the weather turned against you, or it might be because you didn’t bring enough supplies. Of course, personality conflicts could also ruin your time.
Fortunately, with the right precautions, you can avoid or at least mitigate most of these potential issues, and improve your enjoyment during your next camping trip.
How to Improve Your Next Camping Trip
These proactive measures can make your next camping trip objectively better:
- Get to know your location. First, if you’re going somewhere you haven’t gone before, do a little research and get to know the area. You may be surprised to learn how few roads there are, or how few amenities are close by. You may also need to make reservations online. If this is the case, you may be able to make a reservation in the United States through Recreation.gov. You’ll also want to pay attention to any special rules or restrictions that apply to the area. If you get blindsided by some condition you didn’t know existed, you’ll probably end up having a bad time.
- Choose the right camp goers. If you’re going camping by yourself, you won’t have to worry about personality conflicts. If you’re with your family or with a group of friends, you should know that being stuck together in the middle of nowhere for several days can introduce tensions in otherwise good relationships. Make sure you know who you’re inviting, and have a plan to settle any differences or drama that bubbles up along the way. Have a few plans for defusing tension, or the trip could suffer.
- Install a cargo box on your vehicle. Stowaway cargo boxes can come in handy for many different purposes, and they’re extremely convenient if you plan on traveling from campsite to campsite. You can load them up with all the supplies you need without taking up any extra trunk space, and make sure it stays dry and secure—no matter what conditions you face.
- Watch the weather and prepare for the unexpected. In the week leading up to the camping trip, keep a close eye on the weather. Within 5 days, weather forecasts tend to be roughly 90 percent accurate, so you can usually rely on the information to be accurate. A chance of rain won’t necessarily ruin your trip; it just means you have to take some extra precautions. For example, you may not be able to reliably start a fire, and you’ll need to bring some extra tarps and other materials to make sure your campsite is waterproof. Even if the weather forecast looks perfect, don’t forget about the 10 percent of the time that forecasts aren’t accurate, and bring some extra materials to prepare for the worst.
- Bring extra food, water, and clothes. Some people go camping with as little as possible, hoping to catch fish and forage for food as part of the fun. Others try to bring coolers full of hot dogs and marshmallows. Whatever your approach is, always bring more food and water than you’d ordinarily think to bring. You never know when you’ll need it, and if you’d prefer to try and manage without it, you can always keep it stored. The same is true of clothes; always bring extra socks, underwear, and other clothing items in case yours get wet or unusable.
- Plan activities. Most people who enjoy camping like how empty and peaceful it is; they don’t need to occupy themselves with activities all the time. However, out of consideration for the rest of your group, and to make this trip more memorable, plan a few campsite activities, such as singing with a guitar or playing a game.
- Limit technology (but keep it with you). To get the most out of your camping trip, you should limit your use of technology. Burying your face in a smartphone is one of the fastest ways to ruin a trip. Still, you don’t want to be left without a way of navigating or calling someone in case of emergency, so make sure you keep some devices (and extra batteries with charging cables) accessible.
Learning From the Past
If you plan on going camping in the future, pay close attention to everyone’s reactions during the trip. If something goes wrong, ask yourself what you could have done differently to make it go better. If there’s something that brought everyone together, make a note to try and replicate it next time. The more you camp, the more you’ll learn about your personal preferences, and the preparations most likely to maximize your enjoyment.
Image credit: Camping Trip via anatoliy_gleb/Shutterstock