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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1. Choose a Camping Destination
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:
- Tent Camping
Camping for First-Timers – Camping on Glamping?
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.
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
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
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.
- Sleeping Bag
- Sleeping Pad
- Flash Light
- Ice Chest
Let’s explore some of your options and why you need them.
Getting the Right Tent
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!
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.
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!
We have also used an egg crate mattress topper. This works really well. It fits nicely at the bottom of the tent.
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.
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.
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.
4. Camping for Beginners Guide - Camping Food List for Tent 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
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
- Lunch Meat
- Peanut Butter
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
- 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
- Hershey Bars
- Yellow Cake Mix
- Big Can of Peaches, Apples, or Cherries
The ingredients are perfect for Smores and a Dutch Oven Cobbler. These are easy desserts for your first camping trip.
Snacks for Camping
- Granola Bars
- Beef Jerky
- 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 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.
- Dutch Oven
- Large Spatula
- Large Stirring Spoon
- Smore Sticks
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
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!
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!
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.
This is a great resource, for beginning or experienced campers! I hope to camp this summer.
Camping is a lot of fun!
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!
My kids really like it!
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!
Camping does have an initial start up fee but hopefully you can use the equipment many times over!
This is such a great guide for first-time campers and glampers. I’m actually considering van camping this summer.
That will be fun!
Great list of camping supplies for the beginner camper. I can’t wait to go camping this summer.
We already booked our first trip!
Love camping and glamping!
I like both too mostly glamping though!
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!
Glamping is fun! There are some cool sites out there.
Thank you so much for the great tips and advice and ideas for camping so much easier and fun!
It is good to have a camping plan, makes it so much easier!
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.
WE love getting a lot of food snacks too!
Great advice! I am not a camper but there is certainly plenty here to keep someone comfortable.
It takes so much work to camp!
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!
That sounds awesome!
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.
Oh good! Hopefully it is helpful!
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!
We do it for our kids because they love otherwise a luxury hotel sounds nice!
The sleeping bag pad! I had no idea either. Great tip!!
That was a bad mistake!
Getting the right sleeping bag can make or break the trip. Sucks if you can’t sleep because you are too 🥶
I agree 100%!
These are such great beginner’s guide to camping! I would definitely want one of those sleeping cots.
You’ve got some great suggestions here!
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.
It is a lot of learning by experience.
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!
Cots are better for sure!
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!
That sounds fun! We are planning ours too!
We just did our first camping trip with the kids and loved having a bigger tent and a mat under our sleeping bags.
I agree having a bigger tent and sleeping pads make it so much better.
Some of our greatest family memories can be found from around the campfire circle while camping!!
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.
We felt that way too.
Great info! I’m a completely inexperience camper myself, lol.
Cabin camping is the way to go for the first time!
We’ve done all levels of camping, and love it! Great resource for the beginner camper.
Thanks, we are ready to do our first camping trip of the season!
This is really great information for people new to camping.
Camping for the first time is a lot of work!