There is no Wi-fi in the forest, but I promise you will find a better connection
There is nothing quite like being in nature and fending for yourself. Leaving the Wi-Fi behind and reconnecting with yourself and your camping buddy/buddies. Recently Mr 11 and I went camping at Vinegar Hill in the Manawatu Region of our wee country. We took our togs (swimwear), armed ourselves with board games and off we set. The peace and tranquillity of the campsite that we had nearly all to ourselves was pure bliss. But more about Vinegar Hill in another post. Today's post is some Camping Tips + Tricks to help make your camping experience ace. Next week I will post about the camping essentials you should pack.
Camping Tips + Tricks: Before you go
Test your gear
Especially if you haven't camped for a while or are borrowing someone elses gear, it always pays to check it. Make sure that all the bits and bobs are still with the tent (put it up just to make sure) and that way you can practice folding it up again. 'coz let's face it. Tents are a bitch to pack away. Make sure your stove still works. You don't want to get all the way into the middle o' nowhere only to discover your stove it rusted over. That kinda thing can ruin a good holiday. And leave you feelin' hungry.
Familiarize yourself with what the poisonous plants look like
This is fairly obvious why. You don't really want to end up in the hospital or worse case scenario, 6 feet under all because you decided to taste the local delicacies. Or sit in some poison ivy. That can't be comfortable. Also, it pays to check before you go what dangers the area holds such as plants, insects and animals.
Check the weather
Also be familiar with the weather forecast but also keep in mind that it can change suddenly and dramatically. Even if the weather is looking to be lovely and sunny, pack wet weather gear and warm clothes. Just in case.
Research your campsite
Look into whether you will have showers, barbeques, running loos etc. That will determine what you need to pack. It also pays to check if there is clean and safe drinking water available. You don't want to turn up sans water if there is no clean water.
Do you really need 7 t-shirts for a 3-day trip? Do you really need several rainjackets? Do you really need that overpriced super specialised fancy piece of equipment that you will use only once on the whole trip? Space is limited when camping so you are gonna want to be super smart and ruthless when it comes to packing. Only pack what you really need to take.
Tell someone where you are going and how long you are going for
You know, just in case. Anything can happen in the Great Outdoors so always make sure you tell at least a couple of people where you are going and when you expect to be back by. This is a Very Important Point (hence the capitalisation).
Make sure you are going to have enough lighting
It may seem romantic relying candles and a couple of torches. But in reality, tripping over guide ropes, cutting up food and making your way to the loo is decidedly less fun with a weak beam struggling out of a cheap torch (plus how do you place the torch when cutting up your meal so you can actually see?). And it's totally not romantic at all. Invest in some good quality lanterns as well as head torches (for late night loo runs) and an array of other useful light producing equipment.
If you are camping peak season, book well in advance
Always book well in advance if you are camping peak season to avoid disappointment. A lot of remote camping spots operate on a first come, first served basis so a bit of research comes in handy if you are going to a popular spot.
Camping Tips + Tricks: When you get there
Arrive at the campsite with plenty of light left in the day
Especially if you haven't mastered the art of tent putting up yet. It's quite difficult to pitch a tent in the dark. Not impossible, but significantly more pain in the ass like.
Hide your food and garbage, especially overnight
We made the mistake of not doing this at our last camp. As the campsite was empty bar one or two other tents we just left our bread on top of the chilly bin (cooler to those non-kiwis) inside the door. We woke up the next morning to discover some furry little thief had stolen our lunch. So learn from our mistake and always put your food in containers. Furry thieves don't have opposable thumbs and can't work out container lids.
Be fire safe
Make sure you set up your fire properly and away from trees, roots and leaves. Check to make sure there isn't a fire ban in the area and the weather conditions. A trip to the hospital or a visit from the fire brigade doesn't make for a happy camping experience.
Clear the ground
Sleeping on hard rocks and tree roots is incredibly uncomfortable. Move aside those pesky rocks and maybe don't set up a tent where the tree roots are protruding out of the ground.
Bring a good book, some board games or other activities
For those rainy days when you are stuck in the tent, for some evening bonding or downtime or simply for when you are chilling in the shade. We always brought board games, a deck of cards, a couple of books and a crossword/word game book for evenings spent around the fire or in the tent. Travel board games take up less space than their original counterparts if you are lacking space. A ball and bat are always good to throw in the back of the car as well.
Be generous when applying sunscreen and insect repellent
Bugs have no mercy so show them none back with a good ole spray of insect repellent. And be sun savvy with a good quality, high SPF sunscreen. Sunburn hurts, sleeping on an airbed is often hard and can aggravate it.
Camping Tips + Tricks: Ready To Leave
Make sure your tent is dry
If it isn't you will have to unpack it and dry it when you get home. A damp tent rolled away in a tent bag will create mould, smell and weaken the fabric.
Take only photographs, leave only footprints
Take all your rubbish and gear away with you.
Clean as you go
Try and clean all your gear as you are packing it away. There will be less work to do once you get home unpacking, cleaning and re-packing again.
Camping Tips + Tricks: Hacks
Freeze milk jugs of water and place them in your cooler
The frozen water will keep your food cool and as it melts, you will have plenty o' fresh water to drink. Killing two birds with one stone is very efficient.
Keep your clothes warm
When camping in cooler temperatures you can keep your clothes warm and cosy for the next day by rolling them up and popping them in the bottom of your sleeping bag.
Protect your matches
Throw your matches in a waterproof container and glue some sandpaper to the inside of the lid. Ta-da! Dry matches each and every time. Unless your container breaks.
Get comfy with padding
If you have space, a yoga mat underneath your airbed will make it that little bit comfier.
Create a camping box
Grab a storage box (one that is durable, you don't want to pick it up one day and find that it has fallen apart) and throw in all your camping bits and bobs such as utensils, matches, torches, batteries, sunscreen, insect repellant, crockery, spare tent pegs, long life foodstuff, coffee, tea, cling wrap, foil etc. Then next time the need for camping fills you, all you need to do is throw it in the car and you're almost away. Boom!
There you have it, some essential camping tips + tricks. I hope you found them useful. If you can think of any other camping tips + tricks or a hack I may have missed please chuck a reply in the comments. It would be mucho appreciated