10 Common Camping Errors Families Make
The sleeping bags are rolled up – the hot dogs and marshmallows are packed, and you’re off on your weekend camping adventure. Beware of these 10 common camping errors. Preparedness makes the difference between a miserable trip or a marvelous one!
Just like the book says above, “No Worries.” Yes, no worries if you read these most common mistakes families make while planning their camping trips. Don’t make them!
“I forgot the bug spray.”
Forgetting an essential item can be horrible, and believe it or not is one of the most significant common camping errors anyone makes! Some of the worst things to forget on a camping trip are bug spray, toilet paper, tent pegs, first aid supplies, compass, matches or lighter, a tarp, rope, a knife, a flashlight, food supplies, pillows, and warm blankets/clothing.
Make lists. What-to-bring lists are a camper’s best friend.
“We arrived in paradise—but the campground is full.”
Reserve ahead! Even on less busy weekends, take time to make reservations. Nothing’s worse than driving up to the camp office, with your car jam-packed full of gear and squealing kids, and being told by the park warden: “We’re sorry, there are no spots left.”
“Did you bring a map? Our campsite’s around here – somewhere.”
Getting lost is another common error, especially if you’re camping in the backcountry or off the beaten track. Don’t make the assumption you know where you’re going, even if you’ve been to the location before. Directions, a good map, and a compass should be the first items packed in your car. GPS can be handy as well.
“Could you have picked a nastier place to pitch a tent?”
Pick your site carefully! Whenever possible, go scout out your campsite in advance of your trip. Choosing a site that is level, dry, and not too rocky, will make the job of setting up your campsite much more comfortable. If you must pick a site by online reservations, read the site descriptions carefully, and avoid campsites with descriptions like “sloped,” “rocky,” or “seasonally wet.”
“Hey— where’s the nearest drinking water?”
Always check where your nearest water source is. Also, don’t forget to bring adequate containers for carrying and storing water at your campsite, unless you have the luxury of camping beside a tap. A campsite with no water is not a place you will enjoy staying at, period. Portable sinks or tap water jugs work perfectly for setting up on picnic tables.
“Ah… my tent leaks.”
When you go camping, your tent essentially becomes your castle. Or, if you’re lucky enough to be camping in an RV—your trailer becomes your castle. Treat it, royally! Before leaving on your trip, take a day to set up your all-important abode and check it for leaks, tears, and general cleanliness. Also, check your air-mattresses or air-beds for punctures. Pack a patch kit and a tube of air-stop.
“I’m bored, and it’s raining.”
Bring LOTS of rainy-day activities, especially if you’re camping with kids. Make specific plans for bad weather days—don’t assume you’ll be hiking and having campfires every day. A soggy tent can become an extremely claustrophobic, dreary place when the weather turns sour. Those games, puzzles, and books you brought for the road trip get them out, it can save the day.
“Why is that dog squatting beside our tent?”
If you camp with pets, please don’t allow your dogs, cats, ferrets, or guinea pigs (-yes, I’ve seen people go camping with some pretty weird animals) to become a nuisance in the campground. Know the leash rules, and always find out where you can –and can not—take your pet when camping or hiking. Please pick up doo-doo, even in the woods or tall grass. Don’t ruin it for the responsible pet campers.
“My fellow campers don’t appreciate my guitar playing at night.”
Most campgrounds have noise rules, and some have park officers who patrol the grounds after 11 pm. A campground is like a neighborhood. What’s music to your ears -even if it’s those classic songs to sing around the campfire may be annoying to a fellow camper. After all, many people go camping to seek out peace and solitude.
“Help! A grizzly bear is raiding our food!”
This last lesson is not one you want to learn by experience. Put all your food and garbage away where wildlife can’t reach it. On your campsite, any bags of waste should be stowed securely away in your vehicle’s trunk overnight. If you’re backcountry camping, learn to make a garbage pulley in a tree so you can hoist your garbage up out of bears’ reach, and safely away from your tent area. Above all- never leave food standing out as a lure to wildlife.
With proper planning, checking your ‘what-to-bring lists,’ and not making these 10 common camping errors, you’ll raise the odds of your family camping trip turning into a fun, relaxing time outdoors.