If there’s anything a seasoned camper can offer, it’s advice to first timers.
In this special 3-part series, I help to walk you through a typical camping excursion. From packing to building a campfire, and even making sure the kids are having fun, you’ll look like a pro, even if you aren’t.
In Part One, I cover menu-planning, packing for the trip and camp supplies for first-timers.
Part Two will cover setting up your campsite, building a fire and cooking, while Part Three will tackle fun for the kids, finding time to relax and coming home.
Ready? Let’s take you from a first timer to a pro!
Planning Your Menu
I offer various blog posts about this very topic, but in short, it boils down to three things that first-timers should know:
- What you (and your significant other or family) like to eat
- Making it portable
- Cooking it outdoors, easily
To start, you need to do a bit of homework and write a list of meals that meet these criteria for YOU. I can offer recipes until the cows come home, but if you hate chili or meatloaf, how can that help you, right?
Take your list of meals, and break them down into ingredients. From THIS, make your shopping list, and be as specific as you can. Make sure to include snacks and treats, and marshmallows!
It’s time to go shopping. If you’re a store flyer kind of person, see what deals you can score by using the weekly flyers to get the best deals. You should definitely be as economical as you can.
Prepare as much of your meals as you can before you leave the house, this will save you a lot of trouble. If you purchased a lot of non-perishable goods, that’s great! You can even stop at a market on the way to your campground and pick up some fresh fruit and veggies to complete your meals.
If you’re using a propane camp stove, you should buy at least two propane canisters. You should always have one as a back-up, in case you run out halfway through cooking.
Again… I offer a lot of various advice on packing for your trip. Once again, the basic points are:
- pack light
- bring only the necessities
- pack smart
How can you accomplish this if you’ve never been camping before?
Well, it all begins with checking the weather forecast for your destination (yes, really). I know, the weatherman is never right… I get it. But, if you pay close attention to the weather forecast about a week or two in advance of your trip, you should know whether to pack light, summer clothes, or heavier clothing (or even both).
Stick with the bare minimum. An outfit a day is probably all you need, with a pair or two of PJs (or sweats!) and a couple of extra pairs of socks. Laundry facilities can help minimize the list too.
Packing smart is easier than you think. Start with finding the smallest tote or bag to pack your clothing in. The same goes for your food and camping supplies. You get bonus points if it all fits into your vehicle with room to spare!
For extra help with packing, check out this blog post.
Probably the bulkiest items you’ll be bringing are the actual camping supplies.
For your first time, stick with the basics, and build your collection (if you want to) as time goes on. Start with your tent, sleeping bags and air mattresses. You can use tarps to protect the picnic table, tents, and firewood. Add a camp stove, a foldable container for water, and a mess kit, and you’ll be in good hands. Tuck in some waterproof matches, a First Aid kit and bug repellent, and you’re pretty much set.
You can download my free camp supplies list, it’s found at the top of this page. (It looks like this:)
Less is definitely more when you’re starting out! Relax, you got this!
Stay tuned for Part Two, where we’ll be covering how to set up camp, building a fire and cooking outdoors.
Have I missed anything? What would you add?