There are just six weeks left before we pack up and head off on our travels once again. We will be camping our way through Europe, stopping in Germany, Italy, Croatia, Montenegro and Albania before settling in a villa in Greece for five weeks. Then we will be camping our way back up again.
Sounds good, except that we have never camped before. To say we’re a little anxious would be an understatement but we felt it was time to step out of our comfort zone and try something a little different. We’ve got the tent thanks to Max Trader, a Skandika Nimbus 12 man tent which is absolutely huge, along with a couple of sleeping bags. With a few more supplies left to buy I’m starting to wonder what we’ve set ourselves up for. Having said that, we felt the same way before we took off on our first ever two month road trip. It was the best thing we did and gave us the confidence to travel more. What’s the worst that can happen, right?!
Luckily my brother is a seasoned camper and was all too happy to share some of his words of wisdom from his hospital room, so I thought I’d share them with you too:
4 Golden Rules for First Time Campers
I am certainly no candidate for 10,000 BC. I’m not lazy, angry or hungry enough. What I have done is run many expeditions with young people who have never been camping before. There are many excellent blogs that go into detail on these topics and specialist shops also have expert staff that can help. These are the best lessons I have learnt from my mini adventurers:
1) Your sleeping bag is your best friend
When you go camping, you are likely to spend one third of the day in your sleeping bag. There are lots of ways you can save money on camping gear but the sleeping bag should be considered as an investment for the future. If you are only going to camp in the summer and at festivals, a decent 2 season will get you through and be inexpensive. Being able to survive at minus 20 is not really necessary. If you have more adventure in mind, buy the best you can afford.
2) Cook quickly and simply
I’ve seen some strange meals on camps. Attempts at cooking frozen nuggets, paella and beer can chicken have all ended in failure. Many a night, the sun has gone down whilst students have sat in the dark insisting the beef stew is almost ready. Pasta, good quality sauce, pre cooked meat, tinned veg, 15 minutes, delicious dinner done. As for breakfast on a cold morning, boiled eggs double up as brilliant hand warmers. Avoid fry ups. Cleaning the pan doubles cooking time.
3) Don’t break the tent poles
That is the easiest way to get frustrated putting up the tent. As you feed them through, either when decamping or correcting a mistake, be patient with the tent poles. They are attached throughout with elastic which can snap. Once this happens, you can repair with some good gaffer tape (a standard standby in your first aid kit) but prevention is better than cure. Test your tent out before you leave home, check you have all the pieces and put it away keeping in mind you may need to put the tent up in a hurry. Don’t just do your best to fit it into the bag.
4) Keep dry
The joys of camping mean being in the elements. Many of my first time adventurers brought suitcases full of clothes that all ended up soaked. When travelling light, the standard rule is to have a wet set of clothes that you wear during the day and a dry set to wear when under cover. The simple mistake is to keep wearing dry sets in wet weather. Good waterproofs will sustain your wet set and layers will keep you warm. Keeping your feet dry with talc is super important if travelling. The simplest way to keep dry is to pitch your tent properly. These can end up leaking, giving you a lovely water feature inside your tent.
If you are not confident with any of these, seek advice. If you are confident, enjoy the adventure.