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The Complete Camping Guide Plus Printable Checklist

  • Things To Do
  • Silas Smith
  • 11 minutes

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Camping is a simple yet one of the most effective ways to disconnect from problems and connect with nature. You can go camping with your friends, family or all by yourself to get away from it all. It is a tradition that has been passed on for generations. Spending time in nature will cleanse your mind, and the physical effort it demands is a perfect workout for the body.

If you are a first-timer or a camping veteran, having a clear plan for your camping trip is necessary for having fun without any stress. There are many stages to planning your camping trip, which raises many questions.

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Are you looking for a camping guide for the camping season?

A proper camping guide can answer some of these, including choosing your camping destination, the best time to go camping, what to bring camping, and must-have camping gear. This guide aims to prepare you for all things camping and offers you a free printable camping checklist to organize your next trip outdoors.

What is camping?

Best time to go camping

Camping is an outdoor recreational activity during which the participants stay outdoors in temporary shelters like tents or specially designed vehicles like caravans and RVs. The place where you camp, referred to as the “Campsite,” will be far from developed areas.

There are different types of camping, namely Tent camping, RV and Van camping, Dispersed camping, etc. You can choose the one that suits your time and money. With this camping guide, we aim to help you understand the process of planning a trip to nature.

Why should you go camping?

This pastime has been around for generations. Many of your fathers and grandfathers will have their share of camping stories and experiences. Why do people still go camping? Here are four reasons why it is still relevant.

  • Learn Life Skills

From assembling a tent to making fire from scratch, camping helps you learn valuable lessons about surviving in the wild. Apart from these, you will learn techniques to purify water and survive the elements. These are skills that will build your confidence and make you strong in the face of adversities.

  • Explore outdoors

Camping opens the door to nature and its wonders. You can indulge in activities like bird-watching or go on a trek in the nearby mountain. If you are lucky enough, you might see wildlife. These are the experiences of a lifetime, and you can completely enjoy these without worrying about the world.

  • Digital Detox

In this age of technology, we are busy with our phones and other gadgets. Camping provides you with the opportunity to put down those phones and enjoy nature. You cannot do this at work or even at home these days. Put those gadgets away and live in the moment.

  • Build Relationships

If you are camping with friends or family, it is the best time to get to know each other. Busy parents can know what their kids and spouses are going through, couples can learn more about their better half, and friends can bond like never before.

Best time to go camping

Broadly speaking, summer is the best time to go camping. However, if you plan to go camping in a place that has very hot summers, make camping plans between December and April. Similarly, for places that are extremely cold, the best time to go camping is between May and October.

Choosing your camping destination

You must decide on the camping location based on your goals and the accessibility of the destination. This camping guide helps you choose between designated campsites or be more adventurous by taking up wild camping, Dispersed camping, etc.

  • Campsite it is!

There are designated campsites all over the country. Here you can rent out pre-assembled tents and find RV parking near you. Some of these locations will not be too far from cities. But during the camping season, most of these will be crowded. This is a better choice if you are a beginner and looking to gain some camping experience.

  • Dispersed camping or wild camping

Dispersed camping is just camping outside of non-designated areas, including remote locations and national parks. This can be a part of activities like backpacking and trekking in which you will camp at a remote location at night. This is not for the uninitiated and has many more risks than campsites.

  • Dry camping

Boondocking or Dry camping is camping outside a designated campground with no hookups like electricity or water. In short, it is getting off the grid and away from the crowd. You will camp in an RV, van, or motorhome far from development, which is much cheaper than most other forms of camping.

  • Primitive camping

Primitive campsites are in remote areas with no amenities like running water, electricity, or bathhouses like a reserved campsite. These spots can be found in state and national parks and usually are devoid of cellphone reception.

What are the different types of camping?

camping with kids

You can choose from multiple kinds of camping outdoors. For instance, let us see what camping choices you have, taking the location and shelter into account. Your needs, experience, and the weather are the three main factors influencing your choice.

  • Tent Camping

After considering the above factors, you can go for tents or other lodgings for shelter. Tent camping is not suitable for first-timers and elders. For beginners, the task of building a tent can be overwhelming. Similarly, sleeping on the floor can be hard for the elderly and kids.

  • Cabin Camping

Cabins have more protection and durability than tents and have private bathrooms, beds, and electricity. This option can cost you more in rent than tent camping.

  • RV Camping

People have been using camping vehicles like vans, caravans, and RVs for a long time. You need to plan for fuel and parking in this case, and some campsite allows you to park the vehicle overnight. If not, you can use a parking app like Way.com to locate accessible and affordable parking spots.

Even though there are cabins and RVs, tent camping is the OG form.

What is the best time to go camping?

Most people go camping in the months of summer. You can see a lot of campers and camping vehicles at popular camping destinations during summer. If you are planning to go, make sure you do ample research into the weather at the campsite. Nobody wants to stay in a tent all day because the sun is blazing outside.

must have camping gear

You can plan your trip for September and October as well. During this period, the weather may not be too extreme, which is a perfect scenario for outdoor activities associated with camping like trekking. Even if you face unfortunate weather conditions, this camping guide will help you take the necessary precautions.

Camping Terrains and Climates 

Many want to enjoy the outdoors during the spring when the sun is not too hot. But others want to experience the outdoors as naturally as it could be. Choosing your camping destination is entirely your choice and here are a few things for every climate and terrain. 

Camping in the Mountains 

The mountains pose many challenges for any camper, even a camping veteran. Mountain Camping is always associated with trekking, which means you have to plan the trek and when you will stop and build a campsite. 

Most mountain terrain can be unforgiving. Things change very fast, especially the weather. The weather forecast in the valley will be very different from the mountain peaks. Make sure you have clothes planned for sudden climate changes. Setting up tents on the leeward side is important for staying away from heavy winds, falling rocks, and avalanches. 

Desert Camping 

First of all, this is not for the uninitiated. Camping in the desert or any other arid region will test your knowledge and patience. If it is your first time it is always better to go as a group and it is always good to have someone close to help. Make sure you have knowledge about the terrain if you are planning to go deeper into the desert. 

Managing your drinking water is important as dehydration can set in fast in high temperatures. Always cover your head and wear something that can keep the heat out. If you are in a vehicle, make sure it is in the best condition and also has fuel reserves and a toolbox. 

But once you have completed a successful camping trip to the desert, you will feel like you can face anything in life. It will definitely teach you a lot about life in the desert and make you appreciate the luxuries of your home. But the best is yet to come. 

Winter Camping 

Now you will be delivered from under the burning sun to the raging snowstorms. Winter Camping is yet another challenging camping trip that you will ever go on. A whole new set of tents and clothing is a must for this chilly climate. 

Knowledge of the terrain is necessary just like on any other camping trip. If you had to look out for flash floods in the desert, in the snow it is avalanches and Blizzards. Keep an eye out for sudden drops in temperature and stay away from steep mountain slopes. 

Hypothermia is the main villain in this type of terrain. Make sure you have multiple layers of clothing to battle the cold and keep medicines handy for immediate use. Make sure the tents are not in low-lying areas and not under trees with dead branches. 

Camping in Forests 

Are you a fan of Bear Grylls? Forests are at the top of every survival camper’s checklist. But even the experienced ones will have a hard time if things don’t go according to plan. In the US there are many reserved forests and national parks where you can camp at a designated space with other fellow campers.¬†

Unless you are as experienced and resourceful as Bear Grylls (you know who you are!), these campsites are the best for you. If you are going further into the forest, plan the hike and study the terrain you will pass through. Remote forest campers are not only camping in most cases, as there will be hiking involved. 

A good idea about the wildlife in the area will help you stay out of their way. Apart from looking out for the bears, wolves, and cougars, you can enjoy watching deer, bison, elk, and some rare birds. Building your camp near a water source can also be an added advantage. 

A Guide for choosing Camping Gear

Even experienced campers make mistakes in choosing their camping gear. The major resources and gear can be divided into four broad sections: Campsite, Cooking, Clothing, First Aid, Toiletries, and Tools.

A tent is the first thing you need at the campsite. Make sure you pick up a tent large enough for your needs. Then pick up sleeping bags or pads, pillows, and other stuff that goes with it. If you have an accident at your camp, a fire extinguisher can always come in handy.

Carry different types of clothes when you are camping. Some destinations will have warm mornings and chilly nights. So, add both lightweight clothes and jackets to tackle the cold evenings. Don’t forget your sunglasses and hat as well.

First Aid is mandatory for any trips or outdoor activities. Apart from basics like bandages, gauze, and other injury-related medicine, grab bug repellents to help you get a good night’s sleep.

Cooking resources include utensils, jugs, and pans. A cooler can help you keep your perishable food and beverages fresh. Avoid using non-biodegradable materials, which will negatively affect the environment.

Apart from this, grab hold of your toiletries to maintain hygiene. If you are camping as a group, add a book or board game to enjoy the evenings.

Printable camping checklist

You can download the Printable camping checklist by Way.com given below, for planning your camping trip.

Click on the image below to download your printable camping checklist for free.

Way.com Printable Camping Checklist

Camping Guide for Camper Vans and RVs

RVs and vans allow you to easily carry your camping gear and other resources around. But if you are camping in a vehicle, there is a whole new set of challenges to face, which starts before you even hit the road in your RV.

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Make sure the vehicle is in prime condition. Start from the exterior and check for leaks in the roof. Monitor tire pressure and tighten the tire nuts. Check the brakes and batteries of the vehicle. The wastewater system should be in good condition and finally change the oil. For longer trips, make sure you have enough fuel in the tank and have a repair kit handy, especially for the vehicle.

Parking can be a headache at certain camping sites. You must check beforehand whether the destination allows overnight RVs and other camping vehicles overnight. Use a good parking app to reserve RV parking nearby in advance for a tension-free camping experience.


Read more blogs on affordable airport parking, the best insurance for your car, and top-rated car washes near you. 


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