First-time campers are a bit wary about heading outdoors and leaving behind life’s simple luxuries (a.k.a a bath and a bed). As campers ourselves, we suggest car camping.
Car camping is enjoyable and easy for both beginner and seasoned campers. When planned right, it can serve as a stepping stone to the backcountry and all its hikes and hidden treasures. If this sounds good, then read on.
If you’re new to camping, take the time to sit down and plan your trip. Here is a quick guide that you can use to help you plan your first car camping trip.
Choose a date. Avoid holiday weekends when a huge crowd will descend upon the camping grounds. Or book way in advance so you can select from among the best camping spots. Also think about which season you want to camp in - spring or fall are ideal for cool weather and less bugs.
Decide where to camp. Depending on your preferences, you can find a campsite close to a lake, mountain, hiking trails, forest, desert, etc. Check if you need a reservation (you likely do). Once you’ve made your reservation, you can start researching the area and planning your itinerary.
Select a campsite. Choosing a suitable campsite depends on your vehicle, where you’re going, and your amenity preference. If you prefer access to showers and toilets, choose paid campsites. These areas are maintained and managed by public lands agencies, the state, or a private owner, so a fee is likely involved.
However, if you’re willing to go bare, explore dispersed campsites. These sites are located on public lands where people have camped before. There are no toilets, picnic tables, or other amenities here, so make sure to come fully prepared.
Prepare your camping checklist. By doing so, you are less likely to forget essentials. It also helps plan how many supplies you can squeeze in your vehicle and remove unnecessary items.
Also, since you’re camping with your car, you can bring comfort items with you, such as an inflatable mattress, camp chairs, umbrella, and pillows.
Plan your meals. Make sure to prepare ahead and plan your meals ahead of time. This will help you know what to buy at the store and what utensils to bring. It will also spare you from extra trips to buy missing ingredients.
When planning your meals, think about alternatives and easy to prepare dishes.
Pack proper clothing and gear. Depending on the weather and season, you need to bring comfortable activewear. Choose moisture-wicking clothes and ditch cotton shirts. Cotton retains moisture and can make you feel clammy.
It’s also advisable to bring warm clothing like an insulating jacket, pair of socks, a hat, and gloves. When the temperature drops after sunset, you can layer up and feel more comfortable. Don’t forget to check the forecast before heading out so you can pack the right clothes when the weather changes.
Bring garbage bags. Remember that you’re responsible for the trash you bring into the backcountry, so make sure to pack it out properly. Also, familiarize yourself with the seven principles of Leave No Trace. It will help you reduce your impact on the environment while enjoying your backcountry escapade.
Where are you planning to head out next? Share your next destination in the comment section below.