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Camping for the Beginner – The Ultimate Guide

Whether it’s for one night or a whole week, camping is a great way to get outdoors and experience the beauty of nature. It is suitable for the entire family, gives you the freedom to move around easily and offers more flexibility than generic hotels or holiday homes. If this is your first time camping, there are a few things that are essential to know. This guide from STC Stores runs over everything you’ll need to remember when planning a camping trip from the different types of camping available through to how on earth you’ll feed a family of four in the middle of a forest.

How do I Plan a Camping Trip?

Probably one of the first questions you’ll ask yourself is how – how do you go about planning a camping trip? When booking a hotel, it’s easy to just pop online, select your chosen room and pay. But with camping, it’s slightly different. Once of the first things you’ll need to consider is where you want to go. One of the reasons why so many of us opt for a camping holiday is the flexibility it offers. You can near on travel to anywhere in the UK or abroad easily with just your tent and those vital essentials. Use the Internet to its full advantage, research all the campsites in your chosen area and find out how suitable they are for your travelling group. Some campsites are situated right next to the sea so if it’s a relaxing beach holiday you’re looking for, they’ll be perfect. Alternatively, camping families may need to consider entertainment for the children so will want to look for those close to amusement parks or with clubhouses on site.

Top Tip: If this is your first camping holiday, consider staying closer to home. Even if this means you trial a long weekend before the main Summer holiday, this gives you a chance to test out all your equipment and means you’re not too far away, should you forget something important, or something goes wrong.

When Should I go Camping?

This falls down to personal preference. Obviously, consider the fact you will be sleeping closer to nature and the weather is sure to have an impact on your experience. Warmer Summer months such as July and August are popular choices. Keep in mind that most campsites will be busier as a result but you’re more likely to receive better weather. However, if you’re a family that like to brave the elements, opt for an Autumn or Winter date – just remember to bring your thermals and consider the strength of your tent before setting off.

How Much Should I Budget?

As with all holidays, this is entirely down to personal preference. Many find that camping is considerably cheaper than other forms of holiday – mostly because pitch sites are so cheap. Here in the UK, you can put deposits on pitches in advance from as little as £1 if you shop around. If it’s your first time, there may be an initial splurge needed to equip yourself with the right tent, portable catering equipment and sleeping resources but once these have been purchased, all you’ll have to focus on is travel and spending money.

What Equipment do I Need?

If you Google ‘camping equipment’, you’ll be met with a large and expansive list of possible choices. So, let’s take a look at some of the most vital items you will definitely need during your camping trip:

  • A tent suitable for the number of people on the camping trip
  • Sleeping resources – this could be sleeping bags, blow up beds etc
  • Cooking apparatus
  • Portable furniture (optional)

The Tent

Obviously, the first thing you’ll need to consider is your shelter – in this case, your tent. Initially, it is a good idea to establish the maximum number of people who will need to share – including animals. Although tents can come in 10-berth, there is no need to cram everyone in one. Consider whether you need to purchase numerous tents to accommodate for everyone’s privacy and comfort. Some of the main types of tent include:

  • Family tents – As the name suggests, these are ideal for families. They have a large living space in the centre with bedrooms leading off from the middle. In many designs, added extras include porches or additional living spaces.
  • Pop Up Tents – These are better suited to 2 people maximum and are an ideal choice for festivals or use in the garden.
  • Pup Tent – Small, military style tents, these normally have no side walls and are best for couples or individuals.
  • Backpacker tent – Again, as the name suggests, these are best suited to backpackers. They can fold up small, are incredibly lightweight and offer heightened weather protection.

Do your research thoroughly – the right tent will have a significant impact on how much you and your family enjoy camping.

Sleeping

We all know how much a good night’s sleep can impact our mood. That’s why it is so important to really consider how and where you want to sleep. Many people are met with horror images of soaking wet sleeping bags draped across ice cold floors when anyone mentions the term ‘camping’ but it doesn’t have to be like that. Self-inflating camping mats or air beds are an inexpensive choice. Both raise you above ground level and some can even offer the same heightened protection as your double bed at home.

Top tip: The best way to keep warm during the night when camping is insulation. Make sure there are as many layers between you and the ground as possible. Layer as many blankets as possible below your airbed and underneath your sheet. Consider taking your own duvet and pillows for those home comforts and don’t forget the slippers next to the bed – no one likes frozen toes in the morning!

Cooking

Cooking outdoors can be a load of fun – especially when you get the whole family involved. And, it is one of the key reasons why people enjoy the rural nature of camping so much. There is nothing more rewarding than sitting under the stars, wrapped up cosy in a blanket and tucking into a meal you’ve prepared yourself. It’s important that you bring along the right cooking equipment to make sure this dream becomes a reality.

Consider purchasing a portable stove before your trip. There are so many available on the market so set a budget and stick to it. Most of them are fueled by propane gas or natural fuels such as twigs and pellets so ensure caution is always taken during their transport and installation. It is also worth taking into account how many people you will be cooking for on a regular basis and therefore, how many stoves you’ll need. Some campsites will have food facilities available so take into account what impact you want this to have on your holiday budget.

You also need to consider pans and utensils to cook with. Something like our NGT 3 Piece Kettle and Pot Set is perfect, coming in a mesh bag for easy transportation and made from lightweight aluminium. You want to reduce bulk here as much as possible so make sure you choose wisely.

Top Tip: Avoid complex meals – the simpler the better. After all, you’ve just spent the entire day hiking, swimming or enjoying the views around your campsite. The last thing you’ll want to do is start sauteing potatoes or whipping up complicated cuisine just to quench rumbling tummies.

Remember to always cool away from your tent in a well ventilated area. And keep your food stored safety whether this is in zip lock bags, plastic containers or a portable cool box.

Portable Furniture

This last point is a bit of a luxury but something you definitely want to consider if you plan to spend time at your campsite. Consider inflatable arm chairs, bean bags or deck chairs so you won’t have to sit on the floor 24/7. It never hurts to pack a tonne of blankets and cushions – these can easily be thrown around the tent to create cosy little hovels for people to relax in. Also, consider where you’ll eat in the evening. Some families prefer to purchase small fold away tables and chairs to improve meal times.

Other things to consider

Lighting – Whether you’re camping on site or in the wilderness, lighting is essential. Otherwise you’ll be completely dependant on natural light and, depending on what time of year you go, could find your days being cut down considerably. Lanterns and torches are two popular options with many different styles available to suit your budget and available storage needs.

Electricity – In this modern age, few of us can live without our phones or cameras. So an electrical source for charging is essential. Many people find that portable power chargers are more than sufficient – especially those with solar panels. Alternatively, there are many devices that connect to your car or vehicle and channel electricity through there. Other sites come with an EHU or electric hook-up, allowing you to go all out with your accessories – some people bring fridges, freezers and full-size TV’s! You’d be surprised at what we’ve seen…

Tools – It helps to have a few small ‘campers essentials’ on your person. These include a pen knife, good multi-tool and a length of string. You never know when these smaller items may come in handy.

First Aid Kit – Essential to any active holiday, pack plasters, antibacterial cleaning wipes and bandages – just in case anyone needs them. You’ll be spending a lot of time outdoors, so being prepared to deal with scratches and bruises are a sensible option.

So, get planning!

Camping is a great way to bring the entire family together. We have a wide range of Outdoor essentials available online here at STC Stores including Gas Stoves and Sleeping Bags. Find everything you need for your first or next camping trip right here or get in touch for advice on how to make the most of your rural holiday today.

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