First Time Camping Tips and Tricks

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The smell of fire, a feeling of calmness, breathing fresh air and beautiful scenery makes camping attractive, doesn't it? If you have never enjoyed a night under the open sky, but have been tempted then these first-time camping tips and tricks will help you experience it as a fun time.  

Camping really does provide a unique opportunity to enjoy being close to nature, but it can be slightly daunting when you are getting started.  There is so much information out there about what you need...

If you are a beginner or someone who wants to add camping to your skills list and fun family trip ideas then this post is specifically designed for you to learn all the first time camping tips and tricks you need.

first time camping hints and tips

How to make camping less work?

Since you are planning camping for the first time you may be a bit nervous and have heard countless  tales of how much work it can be.  It is true that camping can be a holiday or trip where there is stuff to be done after all you need to basically create your living space, but of course you are going camping to have some fun and a good time so don’t panic…  you can do certain things to make it less hectic.

Buy according to your budget 

For beginners, the number of essential camping items can be very overwhelming and it can be hard to decide what you need and what you don’t. 

The first thing to consider is can you borrow any of the camping equipment for the first time camping instead of spending a fortune on it. Once you have experienced one or two camping trips and know what you need and how you can use them, you can commit to a full purchase.  The last thing you want to do is order everything and either end up not using it or indeed spend the whole trip just setting up all this amazing kit. 

So, go as minimal as you can and make your first time camping less work.

Practice makes a man perfect

Even if you borrow or buy camping essentials, it would be best to test or check them before reaching your camping destination. It will save you time and energy and probably a family row… There is nothing that will cause your stress like trying to put up a tent you have never used before out in the middle of nowhere!  This is one of the first time camping tips that you do not want to ignore!  Try it out and make sure you know how to set up and use everything you have bought or borrowed.

Select and search camping destination

You can make camping less work by researching your camping destination before you head out. You should check out the weather and any restrictions in place as well as what items you can buy on site or nearby.  For example; can you have a campfire? If you can then do, they sell logs on site or will you need to bring them with you.

You might also want to think about what you need from your camping site as someone who is going camping for the first time.  So, think about what will make you the most comfortable and relaxed.  Perhaps for your first time camping you may want to go to a more equipped site so one with running hot water, high quality shower and toilet facilities and maybe an onsite shop.  Once you decide if you like camping you could try something a little ‘wilder’, but a first time camping trick is to break yourself in gently!

It would also be very wise to read up on the activities you can do at or near the site.  Camping with kids is great fun, but they will still need something to do… 

Some family focused camp sites run activities such as wilderness workshops, survival skills and fairy walk so a first time camping tip is maybe to look for a site that does offer some extra activities or that has a nearby hiking trail, farm you can visit or national trust building to go to.  Preparing in advance will allow you to plan your time and pack depending on what you are planning to do.  For example, if there is a beach just down the road you don’t want to forget the swim suits!

How can I be comfortable when camping? 

To make your camping trip comfortable and rejuvenating rather than feeling long and painful have a look at these vital first time camping tips and tricks

Keep warm

After a long day of hiking or exploring your camping destination's you need a good night’s sleep and that can be seriously hindered by being cold!  

Being cold at night can keep you wide awake and make you very uncomfortable so check the expected overnight temperature before you go camping and plan accordingly!

Don’t panic though this is a problem that is easily solved.

Think about your sleeping bag

Make sure you have a good quality sleeping bag that is suitable for the temperatures you will be camping in.  Each sleeping bag is different and is given a rating that will give you a great indication of how warm it will be and the conditions that it is suitable for.

Make sure your sleeping bag fits you - having a sleeping bag that has loads of extra space in it will not help to keep you warm.  This is especially important to consider when family camping.  Kids need a junior sleeping bag that fits them or they can get cold.

Think about what you are sleeping on

Air beds may seem like the best idea as you are raised up from the floor, but in fact they don’t keep you as warm or protect you from the cold floor as much as a Self-Inflating Mat.  

Air beds are much cheaper though so whilst you are starting out with family camping trips you might not want to go straight to a self inflating mat.  

Our first time camping tip is to insulate yourself from the airbed by putting blankets on the floor under the airbed and then another one under your sleeping bag so you are not directly lying on it.  This will make a huge difference to the level of warmth in your sleeping quarters.

Bring hot water bottles

Take a hot water bottle – fill it up and put it inside your sleeping bag to warm up the place before you snuggle in.   You can also get USB rechargeable electric blankets.   You can even get heaters for tents if you have electric hook up.

first time camping tips for staying warm

Snuggle Up

The great thing about family camping is that there is more body heat in the tent.  If your tent has separate sleeping quarters they quite often have removable dividers between the spaces.  If it is likely to be cold at night it can be a good idea to remove these and have the whole family sleeping in the same space as it will warm up quicker and you will stay warmer snuggled up together.

Layer it up

Wearing layers when you are sleeping in a tent is a great idea.  It is much easier to take off a layer if you are too hot than it is to warm up once you are already cold.

Top Tip

Wear your PJs under your clothes when sitting by the camp fire

When bed time comes you just take off the top layer and get into bed.  

That way you will already have warmed up your PJs with your body heat and you won’t lose loads of heat by getting undressed

Bring extra blankets – if you can fit them in it doesn’t hurt to take an extra blanket so that you have an additional layer if you need it

Portable lantern

Camping can be very attractive and fun, but many people don't get along with darkness in the countryside after the campfire is put out.   

You can buy loads of different camping lights for your tent, but how is this for a makeshift lantern that you can make without carrying any extra item:  

Bring a headtorch with you and simply tape it to your You need to fasten the headlamp to your translucent water container so that the bright side of the torch is facing inwards and hey presto you have a wonderful lamp.

Say yes to pillows

Pillows and sleep are linked eternally. Some people cannot sleep comfortably without them but bringing pillows does mean taking extra, bulky stuff. So, why not make one!

You can do that by just bringing a pillow case and stuffing it with folded extra clothes that you have brought along!  Alternatively there are plenty of blow up and self-inflating pillows that you can buy.


Camping is never complete without a campfire as apart from anything else it creates warmth.  Starting a fire can be a problem especially, for beginners.  

So here is a first time camping tip to save you from carrying extra stuff…  

Now that COVID is a factor you will no doubt be packing hand sanitizers, right?  

Well, these can also be helpful when starting a fire as they contain alcohol!  A pinch of it on some dry straws can make all the difference to starting that fire.

Lubricate your zip 

If you love candles bring them along not just to create a lovely light for the evening and a relaxed homely feeling around camp, but also as a natural bug deterrent (especially citronella ones). 

Remember not to have them lit inside your tent though…

Candles can also fulfil another important role. We know that zips can get stuck; it may be your jackets or your tent's zip that starts misbehaving. Worry not, and rub the candle you brought along as a light source to lubricate the zip's teeth to make it slide easily.  Genius!

Socks: the more the better

To feel comfortable, always pack an extra set of sacred socks. As you get set to get inside the sleeping bag, change your socks to keep your feet extra comfortable and warm.  There is nothing worse than cold feet!

Keep your shoes dry

If your shoes get wet due to any reason, stuff them with dry tee-shirts in the night. The dry shirts will absorb the moisture, and your shoes will get dry. 

Another pro first-time camping tip is to bring lightweight flip-flops for cleaning and showering purposes.

Water issues

Camping can feel like hard work and stuff like walking backwards and forwards to get water can create that feeling.  

An organized site will have drinking water and a place to wash your dishes, but you may have to walk a bit to get that water so definitely bring along a vessel for transporting and storing water so that you only have to fetch it once or twice a day.  

You can get simple collapsible water containers so that you have 5 litres of water in your tent.  This will make it so much more convenient and therefore comfortable

All about food

How can we forget food during camping? The first thing is to plan your meals. When you have decided on the menu, you can pack utensils and spices accordingly. Before you leave, it would be best to prepare whatever ingredients you can at home. Don't forget to bring snacks such as nuts or marshmallows.

first time camping tips

Some people think that all they can eat when camping is noodles as they are very easy to cook, but that is not the case. You don't have to eat noodles all the time.   

How about a quick curry:  Take a freezer bag, add tomato puree, curry paste, or spices and some cut veggies, and seal the bag.  Take a naan bread along too.  When you get to the camp site just put the freezer bag's contents into a pot to heat and bingo dinner!

You could even take frozen Bolognese sauce and as soon as it defrosts cook up the pasta and there you have it!  We have found that Bolognese that is frozen taken in a cool bag with ice blocks will last one full night before it defrosts, but if it is warm I would eat it on the first night as you arrive.

Top Breakfast Tip:  mix up your scrambled egg or pancake mix before you go and put into a ziplock bag or tupperware inside your cooler box - bingo easy, filling breakfast ready to cook.

Keep your rubbish sealed

If you don't want to get disturbed by more than the normal number of flies or bugs, keep a rubbish bag, put all your rubbish inside it, and seal it instantly. If rubbish is left unsealed, it can attract flies and bugs, which can ruin your trip.  Camp sites will typically have central rubbish disposal, composting or recycling systems

Pitch your tent in the right place

Another most important first-time camping tip is to set your tent in an appropriate location. You want a good view of nature and to be sheltered if possible, but never put your tent under a tree if you have a choice.

It seems very attractive as it becomes more private and more poetic when the sun rays come through the leaves, but in the morning, you will likely notice droplets of sticky sap coating your tent. This will make packing it up as well as cleaning it a nightmare.

What are the essential items to bring on that first time camping trip?

The list of camping essentials depends upon your needs and how well you can manage things wisely. Here is a list of camping must-haves for beginners:

- Fire starters

- A knife, headlamp

- Length of rope

- Tent, Sleeping Bag

- A pot, pan, disposable dishes, and cups

- Energy-rich, easily prepared foods (or the details of where you can get a good pub lunch!)

- Hand sanitizer, tissue pack, and soap

- Plenty of clothing, tee-shirts, socks

- Flip-flops

- Cooler for food items

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How can I improve my first time camping experience?

The answer is simple – think about what makes you comfortable and what is important for your family to be happy.  

Chose your campsite and pack your bags with this in mind oh and by the way if you are camping with kids then pack an extra set of clothes and then an extra set again as kids have a way of finding mess, water and mud!