10/10/2014 10 Common Mistakes to Avoid when Camping
Camping is getting back to the simple life, enjoying nature, yet campers often make mistakes,
Camping should be the simplest and most relaxing of holidays, a chance to bond with loved ones, commune with the splendour of the natural world and sleep out under the stars. Yet things always seem to go awry, the idea of simple pleasures quickly turns into whining about being too-hot or too-cold, starving hungry and uncomfortable that spoil a holiday and put you off camping for life. Holidaying under canvas doesn’t need to be that way. Most errors are avoidable with just a little advance planning. Here are ten simple tips if you want to be a happy camper:
1. You're going to need a bigger tent
What strange teeny tiny world do tent designers and manufacturers live in? One thing’s for sure, never trust their advice on sizing when buying your tent, especially if doing so online. For a "three man" tent, read one man and his kit or, at a push, a happy couple prepared to spoon; for a "two man" read one cramped man and half his kit. Unless you carry your tent on your back, always go two or three people higher than the actual number sleeping in it.
2. Pitch your tent in the garden
Yes you may feel a bit silly, but the time you don’t want to discover missing tent pegs, broken poles, or a hole in your roof is not when you’re a few hours drive away from any means of sorting out the problem. Before you leave, pitch your tent somewhere and pour water over to check it is still weatherproof. Likewise get to know the rest of your gear by putting it through its paces, especially if it’s new and untested.
3. Arrive at the campsite before dark
Anyone who’s ever pitched a tent in the dark will know the nightmare it can be. You can’t see to put the thing up, you invariably select a terrible spot and have woken up the neighbours by the time you have finished. Plan to arrive in good time so you can spend a while looking for a good pitch. Getting to know the park and its facilities – such as showers and water supplies - is also much easier in daylight.
4. Do not rely on a barbecue for cooking
Even the biggest burger fan will be sick of flame-charred meat after a few days. What’s more, lighting a barbecue every time you get peckish or want to boil up water will take a long time and leave you frustrated and hungry. As well as checking barbecues are allowed where you’re staying, always take insurance - pack a decent gas cooking stove and spare gas canisters too Don’t forget your matches!!
5. Pack well for bedtime
In a campsite that’s going to be home for a while, being too survivalist is a mistake. You won’t sleep well and you’ll hate going to bed. If you know you’ll long for pillows, pack them. Ensure sleeping bags are going to be warm enough for the weather forecasted and that you always have an air-filled layer between your bag and the ground. Thermarests are great for weight and warmth but for ultimate comfort an air mattress probably wins out. Earplugs and eyemasks are also a good idea should you want to sleep past 7am.
6. Keep it simple at dinner time
Well before you set off, sit down and plan out your daily meals. Beef wellington with fondant potato and a red wine reduction is probably pushing it when your work surface is a log. Cool boxes have come a long way but they won’t keep meat for four or five days. Sticking to "one pan" dishes is not a bad idea to lessen sink time. The same goes for breakfast. Peanut butter, bread and jam are easy foods that will fill you up until lunch. Remember to bring bags for your rubbish too.
7. Cooking in your tent is a BAD idea
At best, cooking inside causes condensation; at worst, death. There have been some tragic cases where people have asphyxiated themselves using a stove (sometimes even temporary barbecues) inside tents for cooking or warmth. Obviously there is the risk of fire, but carbon monoxide poisoning is a swift and silent killer in unventilated spaces. Never cook inside your tent.
8. Bringing insufficient lighting
The nights can get pretty long under the stars and unless you want to turn in as soon as it gets dark, battery-powered or solar lanterns are a good idea. At a minimum, a head torch is indispensable and leaves your hands free to do other things. Check it works before leaving and take extra batteries with you.
9. Take plenty of books and toys for the whole family
Crucial in bad weather, on long evenings and whenever you’re camping with the family are games, books, toys, pens and pencils – whatever you can fit in the car, really. These are the things that will keep sane if the heavens open for two days straight, confining your family to canvas. It pays to go quite old-school here – no one wants to hear Disney films blaring out from next door’s tent.
10. Enforce a rigorous "no footwear inside the tent" policy
It might be a pain to take off you shoes every time you enter the tent, but muddy or sandy trainers can turn your sleeping space into an unpleasant place. Mucky and wet kit is miserable and unnecessary and if sand finds its way into your sleeping bag – you will be dreaming of your bed at home. Make sure all footwear is removed before entering but remember to store it undercover in case of bad weather.
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