Whether you are new to camping or already have some experience, this article will teach you things you didn’t know before. We offer a free and downloadable camping checklist with camping essentials for when camping with adults and/or children. Lastly, we show you where you can go camping followed with a list of fun things to do when camping.
Why you should go camping
There is a saying that goes, “There’s no accounting for taste”, which basically means that not everyone likes the same things. Thus, if you are reading this article then we’ll go ahead and assume that you are fond of camping or are at least eager to try it out. There are different reasons for justifying your love for camping and we would like to share our top three reasons as to why we think you should go camping.
Closer to nature
The number one reason why we love camping is being closer to nature. There’s nothing like unzipping your tent door early in the morning and being greeted with a sunrise over mountain peaks. On top of that, research has shown that spending time in nature makes you feel happier and lessen the effects of both physical and mental stress. It is an affordable and easy get away from your overbooked daily routine that gives you useful insights as to what really matters in life. If you happen to be camping in an area with little to no light pollution then you have found the ideal spot for stargazing. On a personal level, doing some stargazing while camping has often helped me to put my problems into perspective.
Develop life skills
The amount of life skills that you can develop while camping will ultimately depend on your comfort level when camping. If you have a high comfort level then you are most likely to bring most of your home equipment with you such as an iPad and camping oven. In this case, going camping will teach you about what you really need to get through the day with a smile. On the other hand, if you happen to just rely on a few basic camping equipment then fear not. This is the perfect situation to learn and develop new life skills such as how to purify water, build a fire and other survival skills. Learning these abilities will give you confidence and self-worth that will carry over into all other aspects of your life.
Quality time with family and friends
I once read the book “The five love languages”, that outlines five ways to express and experience love. One way to do this is by spending quality time with loved ones, which means giving your undivided attention to your family, friends or partner. The reasoning behind this is that it makes the person feel important since you intentionally set aside time just for them. Unfortunately, quality time is getting scarcer because technology is constantly interrupting every attempt. This is where camping is a great solution to this problem. Assuming you avoid bringing your electronics when camping, camping makes room for face-to-face conversations. In the end, it’s the stories and laughs you share with your loved ones that make up for life-long relationships.
What to bring camping
Are you going camping soon? Then a camping checklist is super handy. Personally, me and my family or friends used to always forget something during our camping holiday. As a result, we now have 100 meters of extension cord and four camping plugs. That’s why I decided to make a camping checklist to avoid this from happening in the future. Even if you are reasonably organized like me and store all camping gear in crates, a camping checklist is still quite useful.
Especially if you are going camping for the first time in the season. I always check once if everything is still there and that we have returned any camping equipment we borrowed for special occasions such as birthdays.
During the camping season, I use the camping checklist to indicate what needs to be replaced or cleaned once back home such as sleeping bags that need to be washed.
If you are going camping for the first time, I recommend borrowing as much camping gear as possible. Using the camping checklist below, you’ll have to assess for yourself whether you think you need all the camping gear since it differs per type of camping holiday and personal preference.
If you plan on camping with a baby or toddler then you’ll have to bring additional stuff with you as well. Thanks to some help from my parents and friends with children, here’s an additional checklist for camping with a baby:
Once your kids are walking and potty trained, the list of things you need to bring for them becomes a lot shorter. Here’s an additional checklist for camping with a kid:
Where to go camping
There are two types of campsites in North America, namely public and private campgrounds.
Public campgrounds are the most common and are managed by federal, state and local agencies. These campgrounds are invariably clean and provide amenities such as bathrooms with electrical lighting. The sites are well patrolled and campers must observe strict quiet hours (between 10:00 pm and 6:00 am). In some cases, park rangers lead nature walks and host evening campfire programs that are geared to both children and adults. The costs for use are generally less than for private campgrounds and can be found in areas such as:
Guidelines and fees to visit or use a campsite vary by location. Luckily, you can use recreation.gov to search for national camping spots and activities. You’ll get a summary of the campsite, maps and contact information to make a reservation. You typically must reserve campsites well in advance in order to stay in these destinations due to the high demand for accommodations.
Private campgrounds offer an alternative option to those run by federal, state and local agencies. Some of these private campsites, such as the KOA chain, offer a resort atmosphere. Their campgrounds include showers, putting greens, laundry facilities, a general store and other amenities that urbanize the experience. Other private campsites, such as the Nolichucky Gorge, offer fewer amenities but have the added benefit of being closer to outdoor activities. Also, the lack of so much comfort allows you to really break free from the daily routine and interact with nature in a profound way.
When choosing a campground, make sure your decisions are based on the type of experience that you are seeking. For instance, if you and your children love fishing then consider camping near a pond that is dimpled with the rings of rising trout.
In case you are planning a road trip where you’ll be camping in different campgrounds throughout the trip, then have a look at the following road trip planner.
Fun things to do during camping
One of the greatest advantages of going camping is being closer to nature. Hence, we’ll highlight some fun activities for exploring nature when out camping.
Kayaking is a fun activity to do if you happen to be camping near a lake, river or ocean. Depending on the type of water and how intense you plan on paddling, kayaking can be peaceful and meditative. Also, you mostly rely on your upper body strength when kayaking, so it’s a great alternative if you have a leg injury or happen to dislike hiking. There are some campgrounds that offer kayak and boat rentals. However, in case you are thinking of purchasing one for yourself then have a look at our kayak section. Here, we’ll share useful information regarding what to look for in a kayak along with some recommendations.
Fishing is another fun activity to do in case you’re camping near a lake or river. It’s an activity that brings you out of your daily routine and helps you think about the beauty of nature. It also offers an opportunity for bonding with your family since kids will love to join you and will be super excited to try something new plus catching a fish ensures a one time meal. If you are interested in learning more about this activity, then check out our fishing section. Here, we’ll discuss the gear you need for fishing such as a fishing pole, tackle box and fish finder.
Hiking is probably the most accessible activity to do when out camping. Depending on where you are camping, going on a hike will result in nice perks such as nice views, fresh air and the sound and smell of nature. On top of that, hiking poses a lot of health benefits like improving your cardiovascular fitness and natural stress relief. If you are looking for places to go hiking near you then check out the American Hiking Society website or download their app.
Mountain Biking is one of those thrilling activities that is tailor made for adrenaline junkies. If you plan on camping near mountains then going mountain biking will definitely get your blood pumping. If you are interested in finding mountain bike trails then have a look at the following article. If there are no mountains near you then cycling is also a great option.
Rock climbing is another activity that you can do when camping. The only requirement here is that you are certified to be climbing, have the proper equipment and that you have no fear of heights. It’s an energy demanding activity which is why it can also be seen as a full body workout.
Nature photography is another fun and accessible activity to do when out camping. Gone are the days when you needed a professional camera (eg.: DSLR camera) to take stunning pictures of landscapes, wildlife, plants and close-ups of natural scenes and textures. Nowadays, smartphones pack a powerful camera that sometimes even surpasses a professional camera. Thus, you no longer need to invest in an expensive camera that you’ll only use a couple of times in a year. Instead, simply whip out your phone and start taking stunning pictures so that you have something to look back on once your trip is over.
Stargazing is a fun activity and perhaps even a great bedtime story when camping in an area with little to no light pollution. According to a study, stargazing can also be seen as a good stress reliever but seeing a sky filled with stars should be enough to convince you of this activity. For some, this might be the first time but astronomy doesn’t have to be hard. If you simply want to make some sense of what’s overhead, learn a few new constellations, see the rings of Saturn through your telescope, and maybe track down a galaxy or two, no formal training is required. To get started, download this Let’s Go Stargazing starter kit, which includes some stargazing basics.
Birdwatching is another fun outdoors activity that not only gets you closer to nature but also hones your patience skill. If you’ve done this before then you are probably aware that you’ll need binoculars and a camera with a decent zoom lens. If you’re a beginner however then consider reading the following Bird Watching Guide that is tailored to beginners.
Geocaching is an outdoor activity in which you use a GPS receiver such as your mobile device and other navigational techniques to hide and seek containers, called ‘geocaches’ or ‘caches’ at specific locations. If you are interested in learning how to get started Geocaching then check out the following article.
For more fun things to do while camping, check out the image below.
P.S.: If you really want to spend more time outdoors, make sure to attend this off-grid expo. This expo showcases the most innovative products that allow you to achieve that off-grid lifestyle.