If your planned summer holiday abroad is on hold as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak, you may be thinking about taking a camping trip in the UK for the first time once restrictions are lifted from July 4.
Across the Winfields Outdoors blog pages you’ll find hundreds of helpful articles all designed to help you get the most from your trip, but if you’re a novice to the world of camping then there are some key things to consider before setting off.
We'd love to help you make sure you get the maximum enjoyment from your first trip into the great outdoors.
Read on for 10 top tips for first-time campers….
Be fully prepared
You’ll definitely be excited ahead of your first camping trip (and with good reason), but you also need to be prepared. Don’t look back on your first experience as a camper as a miserable one because you failed to do your research beforehand.
Camping is great fun, but it can also be unpredictable. Of course, you’ll be well aware you’ll need to prepare for all kinds of weathers (more on that later), but it also important to maintain a positive spirit and attitude throughout.
Pack yourself a box of extras with things like extra batteries, a first aid kit, cable ties – those sorts of things. You may never need them (hopefully your first aid kit never sees the light of day), but you never know when accidents might happen.
Read more about what you need to include in your camping checklist
Don’t bank on the weather
The UK is an amazing place to set up camp for hundreds of reasons – from the scenery to the hiking trails to the sheer volume of amazing sites with first-class facilities, you have an endless list of reasons to enjoy what our country has to offer.
But, of course, you can never depend on the weather.
Even in the height of summer season, the weather can be wet and cold – not exactly ideal conditions for camping, but if you’re camping in the UK then you just have to be ready for whatever the elements throw at you.
You will have prepared yourself for not sleeping in your own bed and no doubt will accept it might not be as comfortable a night’s sleep as you are used to at home, but you can make yourself as warm as you’re accustomed to if you pack extra blankets and use layers to avoid lying shivering in the depths of night. Even after a hot day, temperatures can drop in the early hours.
Choose your destination wisely
Do you want a coast or a countryside break? Near a bustling centre or out in the wild? The type of person you are and the sort of holiday you have in mind will dictate the choice of your location – and then your campsite.
Most sites have a basic level of on-site facilities but there are definitely ‘tiers’ of places to visit, ranging from largely open fields to family-oriented sites packed full of activity centres, arcades and restaurants. These sites will naturally be much busier – and noisier.
It goes without saying that the campsite you choose will dictate how much you enjoy your holiday – but the great news is that here in the UK we have so many campsites that whatever your preferred option, there will be something to suit your taste.
Read more about the best campsites to stay at in 2020
Plan your days out
If you’re camping with kids then you’ll know they can get bored quickly. Even if you like sitting around for hours chatting and admiring the views, it may not be the same for the little ones.
Most campsites will have parks and play areas for them to safely amuse themselves, but if that’s not going to be enough then you’re going to need to make sure you have additional plans and ideas.
It’s possible you’re hoping for a digital detox on your break (and don’t we all need one of those from time to time?), so pack a kite or a football, or maybe some arts and crafts and books to help guard against boredom setting in.
Read more about your essential guide to camping with kids
Your choice of tent will understandably largely depend on your budget, but a key recommendation would be not to take a small one.
Pop-up tents may be cheap and convenient, but they aren’t likely to provide the comfort you want for your first outdoors adventure – and if the weather is particularly bad then your tent may struggle to cope.
If your budget can stretch to it, then it will definitely pay dividends to buy as big a tent as you possibly can.
Read more about the best family tents to buy in 2020
Practice pitching your tent
Once you have chosen your tent, you definitely need to practice putting it up before you head off on your travels. Don’t make the mistake of arriving at your campsite and then facing into the experience of trying to put it up for the first time.
If you have a garden, then it’s definitely worth getting used to how the tent goes up – and then, importantly, how to safely pack it away again afterwards.
This will also give you an opportunity to check for any tears or missing parts. Best to resolve any issues before you go away than have your first day ruined trying to sort out issues and problems.
Read more about how to pitch a tent like a pro
Plan your meals
You may not have access to all of your favourite kitchen appliances while away camping, but with a bit of planning there’s no reason why good food shouldn’t remain part of your camping experience.
Camping stoves are not expensive while cool boxes are probably also an essential item for outdoors adventures, ensuring food you take with you can remain chilled and fresh.
Many campsites have small shops selling basic food types, enabling you to make salads, omelettes and pasta dishes. You can be as creative as you wish – just because you’re away from home shouldn’t stop you eating good, nutritious meals.
Understand your equipment
We have already discussed the importance of knowing how your tent goes up before you set off, but you should also take time to understand the rest of your camping equipment and gear before you leave.
If you’ve never slept in a sleeping bag before then why not try it out for one night before you go? Ok, it won’t completely replicate the experience of sleeping in a tent, but you’ll get some understanding of what to expect.
Also, check you know how the lantern lights work if you are taking them with you and definitely learn how to connect your gas cylinder to your camping stove.
You will learn as you go during your camping life, but all the preparation you put in before your first trip will help ensure you get off to a flying start.
Follow the rules
One element of camping life you may be surprised by is the relative lack of privacy you enjoy.
Noise travels and even the most normal of conversations can often be heard by campers in the tent pitched next to yours. It’s therefore important to be mindful of this at all times and respectful of your holiday neighbours. Certainly, loud music and a party type atmosphere late at night or into the early hours is a definite no-no, unless you want to incur the wrath of fellow campers – and the site’s security team!
You will find a real camaraderie and friendliness among your fellow campers – you are all doing the same thing and looking for the same type of holiday, so you can all play your part in ensuring a successful trip.
This is the most important piece of advice – just enjoy yourself!
Things may go wrong, the weather may be awful – just roll with it. Camping outdoors is, in our opinion, the best kind of holiday you can imagine. There are so many sites to camp at and so many great places to see in our country – we truly believe that once you’ve packed-up at the end of your first trip you’ll already be counting the days until you can book your next adventure.
Take a look at our full range of tent accessories or entire tents collection including:
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Read more from the Winfields Blog to set you up for 2020...
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