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The weather outside is slowly starting to resemble something that could be described as nice and summery and those of us who want to get in touch with their more adventurous side might start planning their next trips. And what might be better for becoming one with nature than going out into the wild for a camping adventure? So, find your old sleeping bag and enjoy our tips for the perfect camping experience!
First of all, camping isn’t just camping. It comes in many varieties: car camping, van camping, wild camping, glamping, and, of course, good old tent camping, the main focus of this article. While there seems to be a range of options, the basics apply to almost all types of accommodations.
Whether you try wild camping or use a campsite, good equipment is the key to a pleasurable experience. Starting with the tent, good quality should never be neglected. No matter what the weather forecast might predict, a tent without a water-proof layer and proper insect protection is basically always a no-go. Even if you purchased the perfect tent, try to avoid an unpleasant surprise when you arrive at your final destination; this might mean noticing that some pegs are missing, your tent is damaged, or there isn’t actually enough space for everyone. Always build your tent before taking it on a trip, so you can fix damage early and learn where to put all the poles.
The essential equipment includes sleeping bags and sleeping mats. If you want to have a slightly more fancy experience, consider taking an inflatable mattress, a pillow, and some blankets. For backpack campers, that might not be an option. When choosing a sleeping bag, always pay attention to the temperature range. You don’t want to spend a sleepless sweaty night or turn into a human icicle. Don’t let yourself be deceived by a warm day, a cold night might still follow, so it’s also crucial to take proper clothes with you. Go for different layers. When walking or hiking, some waterproof goods are always great and quality footwear is key.
Those are all very obvious, but then there are also small things that are easily forgotten. For example, campsites and wild nature can differ greatly. While there are usually bathroom facilities available at a campsite suitable for showering and brushing teeth, a night in the wilderness holds challenges. With no amenities available, getting eco-friendly shampoo, toothpaste, and even toilet paper can be important. While ordinary chargers usually suffice at most public campgrounds, a fully loaded power bank might still prevent unexpected trouble. A first aid kit, tick tweezers, and insect repellent can help protect you from the wild beasts lurking in the wild.
Lighting is also quite often forgotten. Simply relying on your smartphone is often insufficient. You can brighten your way by wearing headlights, but inside your tent a hanging lantern or battery-powered fairy lights might be useful. Especially during the summer, make sure that you never leave the lights on and the tent open because midges might enter. Many also consider a camping experience incomplete without a campfire. While you must find your own wood and choose a safe spot, a lighter is necessary to get the spark going and firelighters might help keep it alive.
While such a fire is certainly nice to look at there is also a more useful side to it. With the right equipment, you can cook almost every dish over it. A simpler alternative, especially suitable for backpackers, is a camping stove. While a campfire BBQ is certainly fun, meal prepping prepares you for the worst-case scenarios and saves a lot of time and effort later. If you’re hungry between meals, protein bars or apples can survive a crammed backpack relatively undamaged.
Now our backpack is almost full; we’ve got our food options, our basic equipment, good clothes, and lights. Quickly adding some plastic bags for unexpected waste and some card games for entertainment purposes, we are ready to go. But where are we actually heading? Booking a campsite in advance saves you some trouble later and, even if you are simply going wild, have an idea of where you’re going and what rules apply. For those who already see themselves watching the sun go down over the sea from their tents standing at the Dutch shore, I have disappointing news. Wild camping in the Netherlands is strictly illegal so there is the choice between public campsites and going to another country. Ideal places for wild campers are Scandinavia and Scotland, excluding the rest of the UK, but even France and some parts of Spain.
Choosing a country is one thing, but choosing the perfect spot is another. When erecting your tent, check the ground first and remove stones or annoying waste. Don’t choose a spot on a slope for obvious reasons, but also consider the wind direction and avoid sleeping underneath trees in order to protect yourself from falling branches. Also try to arrive during daylight hours; building a tent in the dark is not fun. And while detailed planning might not sound amusing, it is definitely worthwhile once you start your camping adventure.