RVers, start your engines! Campers, ready your tents! Glampers, well, depending on your destination, you may just have to grab a change of clothes. June is both Great Outdoors Month and National Camping Month, and the open road beckons.
Whether you want to explore the Rocky Mountains or lounge on the Gulf Coast, we’ve compiled five things you’ll need to think about to get started on your adventure.
1. Choose a location.
First, you’ll need a destination more specific than “Out there somewhere (gestures vaguely).” Fortunately, the National Park Service has you covered with detailed information about America’s 400+ national parks. You could also look up campsites at local and state parks if you want to stay closer to home. Keep in mind that many parks require reservations in advance, while some can be on a first-come, first-served basis. Be sure to read up on the details, rules, and fees of each campsite. Here’s a helpful guide about finding and setting up your campsite.
2. Equip yourself.
If you’re tent camping, you’ll need a tent (obviously). Choose one that has enough sleeping capacity for your group and that is suited to the climate you’re camping in. Additionally, some tents come with interior pockets and loops to hang lanterns and gear, extra ventilation panels (ideal for hot climates), and multiple entrances (to minimize the need to climb over your tentmates). Don’t want to invest in a tent until you know whether camping will be a regular activity? Some stores and even parks will rent you tents, along with other gear like sleeping bags, hiking gear, camp stoves, and more.
3. Think safety first!
The thing about the wilds is that they’re … well, wild. You’ll need to be prepared for things that sting and bite, as well as the usual bumps, bruises, and sprains that can come from outdoor life. Sunscreen and bug spray are a must, and you’ll want a well-stocked first aid kit. Include items like over-the-counter pain relievers, antacids, and allergy and cold medicines. Don’t forget other items like flashlights and fire-starters. Depending on your activities, you might need additional safety gear, so do some research before you hit the road.
4. Plan your campfire cuisine.
One cardinal rule of camping is this: Only Yogi Bear is allowed to steal picnic baskets. Be sure to pack more food than you think you’ll need, because outdoor activities, and sometimes just being in the outdoors, tends to ramp up appetites. If it’s your first time cooking outdoors, don’t try to play “Top Chef: The Campfire Edition.” Choose easy meals like sandwiches, canned soups or pasta, and that old classic: hot dogs (vegan, if you prefer). Finally, pack food that doesn’t need to be cooked in case you can’t get your stove or campfire lit. We’ve provided a list of foods to get you started.
Top 10 Campfire Cuisine Essentials
Don’t forget the kitchen gear, like plates, utensils, and a cooler. Here’s a handy kitchen gear checklist to get you started.
5. Pack your sense of humor.
Camping is a wonderful life experience, and one that everyone should probably experience at least once. But of all vacation options, it holds the most possibility for some level of disaster. Weather forecasts of sunshine turn to unrelenting rain. The vagaries of campfire or camp stove cooking lead to burnt beans or raw chicken. Ask any seasoned camper about their experiences, and they will likely lead with a hilarious story of disaster that in no way deterred them from setting out again. Hedge your bets by packing some playing cards, board games, or books to wait out a rainstorm, and if your freshly caught trout turns to charcoal over the campfire, break out the marshmallows and find out who can tell the best ghost story.