A back-to-basics guide for planning your next outdoor trip

If you’re a newcomer to camping, or only take a trip once every few years, here are some tips to ensure it’s a smooth adventure.

Decide what’s important

What do you want to do on your trip? This will dictate where you should go, and what you’ll look for in a campsite.

Think about the activities you want to do – hiking, rafting, biking, fishing – and go from there. Look for locations that have easy access to your favourite outdoor activities. If travelling with your family, look for playgrounds and kid-friendly places nearby.

Once you have a general idea of where you want to go, search for the available campsites in that area. Things to consider include:

Tent or van: Do you have a caravan or RV or will you be using a tent? Find a campground that has the right space for your vehicle as well as the amenities you’ll need, particularly for young families.

Rough it or glamping: You cannot get all the comforts of home when you go bush, but depending on your location you can have access to bathrooms, electricity and running water. But you’ll have to check what amenities each campsite offers.

When you find a campsite that seems good, you’ll want to double check it has everything you want and need:

  • Ask friends who camp for their recommendations.
  • Check out reviews online.
  • Call the campground directly for more details, or to address questions or concerns.

Reserve your campsite

If you don’t book in advance, particularly during school holidays or on long weekends, you might be disappointed when you arrive at your destination. Remember to ask for a receipt when you book, whether you book by phone or online.

Plan your menu

You don’t want to miss out on a day’s worth of meals because you didn’t plan ahead. With a little planning and food preparation before you leave, you’ll ensure everyone is well fed, even any visitors to your campsite. For example, you can chop fruit and veggies and marinate meat at home.

Don’t forget to pack the basics such as salt, pepper, oil or cooking spray, and any additional seasonings you like to use.

Your menu will likely require foods that need to be kept chilled. Be sure to place food in smaller containers to create more room in the eskies. Plan to arrive with ice-filled coolers, but talk with the campground beforehand about the easiest way to replenish your supply.

More often than not the fire pit comes with an attached grate, which allows you to cook over an open flame. However, consider bringing a camping stove with propane as a backup, or for cooking items that don’t fare as well over a fire. Other important kitchen items include knives, tongs, utensils, spatula, sealable containers, tinfoil, pots, pans, dishes and cups.

Use a checklist when packing

It’s always good to have a camping checklist on hand so you don’t leave any essentials behind. It’s easy to forget items such as rubbish bags, toothbrushes, toothpaste, first aid kit, warm clothes, waterproof matches, water bottles, paper towels, soap, or a tub to wash dishes in.

Be sure to tell someone where you’ll be and when you plan to be back. It’s important that someone knows where to find you should anything out of the ordinary happen. Here are some tips to secure your home while you’re away.