Camping in Utah
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Plan a Camping Trip – Camping for Beginners Tips

Are you looking to plan a camping trip and don’t know where to start?  I know how you feel!  We were beginners once as well. This camping for beginner’s guide will help you know everything you need to have a successful camping trip.

To plan a camping trip takes a lot of work.  This camping for beginners guide will start with the necessary basics such as equipment you will need to tent camp, supplies, and the basic information you will need to plan a first-time camping trip. These tips for beginner campers have helped us as we have planned many camping trips! 

Let’s create a camping for beginners guide with lots of tips for camping for first-timers! 

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Guide to Camping pin for Pinterest

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1. Choose a Camping Destination

Spring Break in Utah Arches National Park

The first thing you need to do when planning a camping trip is decide where you are going to camp at.  Location is key!  

I would start locally at a state park.  Many parks will have tent campsites with firepits.  Usually, these are low-cost.  US National Parks also have campsites located all around them.  Since this is your first-time camping, I would not recommend stomping into the wild and finding a spot in the woods. (This is for diehards.) 

Type of Camping

In this camping for beginners guide, we need to start with what type of camping trip you want to experience.  Maybe you want to rent an RV or sleep in your car so you can explore a few different areas without setting up and taking down equipment.  Maybe you would like a unique experience in a yurt, cabin, or even covered wagon.  Or maybe you want to have a traditional tent camp experience.    

You will need to make these two decisions before you do anything else. Just a re-cap:

  • RV
  • Car
  • Glamping
  • Tent Camping

Camping for First-Timers – Camping on Glamping?

Glamping instead of Camping

Since this is a camping for beginner guide we need to discuss the best option for first-time campers, Glamping or Camping?  For your first time camping, you might want to consider glamping. 

Glamping

What is glamping you ask? Well, glamping is staying in a cabin, yurt, or other shelters that are already in place.  No need to worry about putting a tent together. 

Glamping gives you everything you would want on a camping trip.  You get to experience the great outdoors and use a sleeping bag!   You also can still make a campfire and have smores.  It is a great way to get your feet in the water without jumping in and swimming! 

Rent an RV

An RV is a great way to get the camping experience without roughing it.  Most RVs are really nice.  They usually have kitchens, bathrooms, and access to all electronic pleasure you could ever need.  I would consider RV camping as glamping.  

Cabins, Yurts, or Covered Wagons

Many campsites rent cabins or yurts.  I have even seen covered wagons that you can sleep in.  There are some really fun options for first-time campers to experience.   

But, for those of you who want to go all-in let’s explore tent camping a little more. You need to know the essentials for first-time campers.

 

2. Book Your Campsite

camping for beginners site

No matter where you decide to camp or what type of camping you want to experience, you will still need to reserve your campsite

Camping for Beginner Tips

Book Early!  Places like Yellowstone, require you to book 6-12 months in advance to get a good spot.  One of my favorite camping sites is KOA.  I like that they have clean bathroom facilities and usually have a pool. 

 I would also look up glamping and unique camping spots near the area you want to visit.   

 

3. Camping for Beginners Guide - Supplies

Guide to Camping -Basic Supplies

If you decided that you are glamping then your camping packing list will not be as intense.  If you want to have a first-time camping experience in a tent you will need to be prepared. 

There are a few important items that you are going to need before you plan a camping trip.  

  • Tent
  • Sleeping Bag
  • Sleeping Pad
  • Cot
  • Flash Light
  • Ice Chest

Let’s explore some of your options and why you need them. 

Getting the Right Tent

Guide to Camping -Campsite

If this is your first camping trip, you are probably going to have to buy a tent.  There are a few things to consider when getting ready to buy a tent.

How Much Space Do I Need?

This is a great question.  I have a family of six so I thought if I purchased a six-person tent it would be perfect.  I was wrong, there is barely enough room for us to lay down and sleep.  There isn’t a lot of room to hang out.

I recommend getting something a little larger than what you need.  It is nice to have a little more space.

What Type of Camping Trip am I Going on? 

The downside of getting something larger is that it is going to weigh more.  If you are planning a camping trip where you will have your car right next to the campsite then it’s no big deal.  But if you are planning on hiking into a campsite, carrying a huge tent would not be convenient.

How Much Money Do you Want to Spend?

Tents come in all prices!  Since this is your first camping trip, I would recommend getting something that is of good quality and has good reviews.  I wouldn’t spend a ton of money on my first tent.

If I decide I love camping so much and I want to do it every weekend then is the time to invest in a more expensive and better quality tent.

Are Pop Up Tents a Good Idea?

Yes, if this is your first camping trip, make it easy on yourself!   A pop-up tent is easy to put together.  Our first tent was an old-fashioned do-it-yourself tent and it was hard to put together.

If you put tents together all the time you become a pro but if it is your first time it takes so much time.  Often, we would arrive at our campsite right before sunset and be rushed to get the tent up while we still had light.  I highly recommend a pop-up tent for beginners.

Have you heard of SUV Camping?

Yes, this is a new thing!  You can actually attach a tent to your SUV.   There are lots of great options for SUV camping!




Sleeping BagsSleeping Bag for Camping

There is a difference in sleeping bags.  One beginner mistake we made was thinking that the cute character sleeping bags for kids you can get at Walmart are good for camping.  They are not!  They are good for sleep-overs.

When you camp you want to make sure that you have the correct temperature range.  Some bags will get you warm in single-digit temps while others will be a 40 degree or above sleeping bag.

Think about what time of year you are planning on going and buy a sleeping bag that will be comfortable for the weather you will be in.



I hate sleeping on the ground!  I guess I am just too old!  Another beginner’s mistake we made was not realizing we needed a sleeping pad under the sleeping bag.  We sent our daughter to a girl’s camp with just a sleeping bag because we didn’t know that you needed a sleeping pad.

A sleeping pad is essential.  It will give you comfort from rocks and sticks that may be under the tent.  Finding a nice foam pad is essential unless you decide to do what we did and just buy an air mattress.

Air Mattress

The air mattress makes camping so much more enjoyable.  You know you are going to get a good night’s sleep if you purchase a good air mattress.  The only problem is it takes up a lot of room in your tent.   I still think it is worth it!

Another option

We have also used an egg crate mattress topper.  This works really well. It fits nicely at the bottom of the tent.



Cots

We did not get cots for our first camping trips but I realized I would enjoy camping so much more if I slept better.  The air mattress is nice for the kids but the cots are better for adults.

We were able to grab some great quality cots at Sams Club. You can also check out Amazon for some great options.  We purchased the Coleman Pack-Away Camping Cot and it was very comfortable.

Ice Chest

You probably already have an ice chest, but I highly recommend bringing it on your camping trip.  We usually keep our drinks cold as well as food that we are planning on preparing during the camping trip in the ice chest.

Since this is a beginner’s guide to camping, we will recommend a few ice chest options.  We started with an Igloo ice chest.  This brand has been around for a long time.  It does the trick.   Coleman is also a great choice.

Now, if you are going to be camping for a long period of time.  It might be worth investing in a Yeti Cooler Yeti can keep ice frozen up to 7-10 days or 3-5 with regular use.

Flash Lights

You will need a flashlight.  Another option is a lantern but you will need something to see at night.  You can always use the flashlight on your phone but I think it is better to purchase a bigger one. 

We love using the flashlight for ghost stories and passing it around the circle. 

Shop Lanterns


4. Camping for Beginners Guide - Camping Food List for Tent Camping

guide to camping

As I plan a camping trip, food is always a big concern.  I want to make sure I purchase enough groceries before we hit the road.  Since this is a camping for beginner’s guide, I am going to share with you some basic EASY food to make.  Keep in mind cooking at the campsite can take more time than if you were in your kitchen.  Here is a camping food list for tent camping. 

Breakfast for Camping 

  • Eggs
  • Bacon
  • Sausage
  • Bread
  • Butter

With these ingredients, you can make egg sandwiches, French toast, or just eat them a la carte. Bring a skillet and you should be all set!

Lunch for Camping 

  • Bread
  • Lunch Meat
  • Peanut Butter
  • Jelly
  • Chips
  • Fruit

We always like to keep lunch simple and just have a picnic.  A lot of times we are hiking or exploring the area nearby so this makes sense. 

Dinner for Camping

  • Chicken, Steak, or Hamburger
  • Potatoes
  • Carrots
  • Peppers 
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Corn on the Cob

Foil dinners are the best! With the ingredients above you can have a wonderful meal. 

Desserts for Camping

  • Graham Crackers
  • Marshmallows
  • Hershey Bars
  • Yellow Cake Mix
  • Big Can of Peaches, Apples, or Cherries
  • Cinnamon

The ingredients are perfect for Smores and a Dutch Oven CobblerThese are easy desserts for your first camping trip. 

Snacks for Camping

  • Granola Bars
  • Chips
  • Beef Jerky
  • Cookies
  • Candy
  • Camping Popcorn
  • String Cheese

I like to have a few high proteins snacks that I can stick into my hiking backpack while we explore.  I also like to have some fun sugary snacks for when we are hanging out in the tent.  

Cooking Essentialscooking at the campsite

Cooking at the campsite is really fun!  You really have to plan ahead of time so you do not forget anything! Obviously, different cooking tools will be needed for different meals you are preparing. Here are a few items we bring every time.

You would probably die if you saw our car on the way to a camping trip.  We have it loaded so full that you can’t get out!  

Tips for Beginner Campers

camping-for-beginners -

I have some tips for beginner campers that will help you on your first-time camping trip.

1. Stay for More than One Night

Camping takes a lot of work! the process of putting up your tent and getting settled can take time.  You might want to camp for more than one night to make your efforts worth it.  

2. Be Prepared

Be prepared for your first camping trip.  Make sure you have the first-time family camping essentials.  You really don’t want to have to run to the store after you set up camp.    Sometimes camping resorts will have supplies in their stores but not always.  

3. Check the Weather

Before going on your first time camping trip make sure to check the weather.  If bad storms or wind are coming you might want to consider glamping.  We camped on an extremely windy night and we could not sleep at all! 

4. Plan your Meals

Hopefully, my camping food list for tent camping makes it easier for you to plan your meals.  It is extremely helpful to have a meal plan for camping.  Try to make simple meals. 

5. Create a Packing List

It helps to create a packing list for camping so you do not forget anything.  Just write everything out! Don’t overpack! 

6. Setting up your Tent

Practice setting up your tent before your first time camping trip.  (You may need to watch YouTube.) Arrive at your campsite early while the sun is shining.  It is much easier to set up your tent in daylight.  

When setting up your tent make sure you set it up on a flat spot of land with no jagged rocks.  Also, keep your tent a good distance away from the campfire

7. Respect Other Campers

Remember you are not the only one camping! Respect others so everyone can have an enjoyable experience. 

Camping for Beginners Guide Complete!

Beginners Guide to Camping

Hopefully, this camping for beginner’s guide will help you decide what you need to purchase before you hit the road. 

We have had some amazing camping trips and a lot of fun being in the outdoors.  Camping is an experience everyone needs to try at least once.  Here is to creating a wonderful experience your family will not forget! 

I hope this first-time camping guide helps! If you have any more questions just ask in the Facebook Group! 

Facebook Group

If you have any questions when planning your trip come join me in my private Facebook Group.  

This group is a place where you can ask any question about your upcoming trip and help others plan their trips.  It is also a place where I put travel deals.

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52 Comments

  1. We haven’t really given camping a real shot yet! Thanks for all the great tips! We would like to do a real camping trip at least once. We did a one night trip last summer, and it seemed to go ok!

  2. Oh wow! I didn’t realize how much preparations and expenses camping involves.

    We have a tent and the biggest thing we do as camping on my inlaws’ back yard:)). Kids love it!

  3. This is such a great guide for first-time campers and glampers. I’m actually considering van camping this summer.

  4. I’ve always just done tent-camping, but I think I could TOTALLY get on board with glamping! That seems more my style these days!

  5. Wow – this is a really comprehensive guide for anyone interested in getting into camping. You gave a lot of options depending on family size and preference. We also bring a lot of food and cooking equipment when we can – it adds to the fun! Thanks for the resources.

  6. We went camping with friends last summer and they brought some solar-powered garden lights. We used them to make a path between tents to reduce the need for flashlights – worked great!

  7. Great Tips. Glamping is more my style. I shared this link with my nephew who is planning a camping trip with his family. Thanks for the useful information.

  8. What a great beginner’s guide to planning a camping trip. I am definitely a beginner camper – and maybe more a glamper really! I love being outside, eating outside, hiking, etc. but I like comfort when it comes to sleeping!

  9. Getting the right sleeping bag can make or break the trip. Sucks if you can’t sleep because you are too 🥶

  10. Great tips for beginning campers. I remember our first camping trip in the wild 3 1/2 years ago. We have come so far since then and learned so much. Every time we take a trip we figure out a better, faster, more efficient way to do or pack something or we figure out what to put on the wish list to make our experience even better.

  11. My family used to go camping when I was a kid. We had air mattresses our first couple of trips. I remember them deflating during the night and my parents waking up sore. It wasn’t too long before we had cots!

  12. We love camping and I know it can be overwhelming for new campers. This post is so helpful!! Can’t wait for camping season! It’s coming soon–we have our first trip planned in a couple of weeks and then it’s all summer long!

  13. We just did our first camping trip with the kids and loved having a bigger tent and a mat under our sleeping bags.

  14. Excellent suggestions! I’m not a beginner camper. However, it’s been a couple of years since I got to enjoy camping, so it feels like I’m a newbie again. I hope to camp this summer.

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