4 Golden Rules for First Time Campers

nimbus 12 tent


nimbus 12 tent

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.



Do you have any camping tips you would like to share with us? We really would appreciate them!



2 thoughts on “4 Golden Rules for First Time Campers

  1. Get some decent pegs, you’ll need a variety for different ground conditions but I can highly recommend Delta pegs for windy conditions, plastic pegs for soft or sandy ground, and rock pegs will be a must for hard ground. V pegs, which have a V profile, are also good for wind and soft ground. The pegs that came with your tent are only good for spares.

    If you are really stuck in a windy day pitch your tent in the lee of a wall, building, hedge (not under a tree, a loose branch could fall down and damage your tent or worse) or even a caravan. If you have nothing else park your car on the windward side. Always pitch a tent bum into the wind. Never have your door facing the wind.

    If you are using airbeds, put some insulation under them as you will never get warm if you sleep on a bag of cold air that is sitting pretty much on cold ground. To insulate under the airbed you can use cardboard free from a local shop. Or bring foam mats for putting underneath. Putting an old sleeping bag on top of the airbed, held down with a fitted sheet, will also improve comfort and warmth.

    If using a Self Inflating Mat (SIM) it doesn’t need any additional insulation but it is bulkier to pack.

  2. Hi, we are looking to travel through Europe for a month next year. We will camp but there will be 3 adults and 6 children. Do you know the best website for finding cheap camping sites? Plus most sites will only allow 6 people per pitch…are there campsites that allow more? My sister and her two children are coming and they will just share our tent to make it cheap for all of us. We don’t have room for two tents and equipment in the 9 seater minibus. Any advice would be much appreciated. Thanks!

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