I never went camping as a child. The first time I ever camped was after I met my husband, who was more exposed to the camping culture than I was when he grew up. A while after my husband and I started dating, he suggested we go camping and my first feeling was anxiety and fear. I don’t consider myself a “girly girl” but I just didn’t see how sleeping on the ground in the middle of nowhere sounded like fun. After a while, I caved and we had our first camping experience together. We bought a tent and some sleeping bags and booked a three night stay in a state park in upstate NY. A year or so later, we took a trip to the Washington State area, and we rented a car and camped as we moved from place to place. Last year, we bought a pop-up camper, so moving up in the camping world! Reflecting on my experiences, I have created a list for first time campers, who know nothing about the lifestyle and are maybe trying camping for the first time.
- Invest in an inflatable sleeping pad for under your sleeping bag. No getting around it, sleeping on the ground sucks. But you can make the experience much more comfortable by purchasing a inflatable sleeping pad to put on the ground under you while you sleep. We got the self inflating kind, where you just turn the valve, and it inflates automatically. I have also read you can use a cheap piece of foam, but have not tried that one.
- Get a portable, propane grill. The first time we tried to cook on a campfire, we tried to bake some potatoes. Two hours later, we had potatoes that were hard on the inside and black on the outside. Not good. Getting our Coleman propane grill was such a lifesaver! You don’t need an electric hook-up to use it. I recommend using a cast iron pan and it’s just like cooking at home!
- Bring a good flashlight or propane lantern. This is a must for finding your way around the campground at night.
- It’s important to stay organized during a camping trip, especially on trips to the campground bathroom to shower/get ready for the day ahead. I would suggest bringing a medium sized bag with a lot of pockets/compartments (maybe a diaper bag) where you can throw your towel / shampoo / conditioner / soaps / makeup / clothes for the day, ect. Make sure to bring cheap flip flops for the shower!
- Get a small portable mirror, you can use in your tent / camper for hair / makeup. Sometimes the bathrooms in the campgrounds can get crowded, so you may not want to use the mirrors in the bathroom if there is too much traffic. The one I bought folds up and has a stand right on it.