I didn't grow up camping. It was sort of forced upon me when I was a bit older. It was either go camping or not go on a holiday. The idea of being stuck home every weekend didn't appeal much, so I chose the camping option. And as they say, the rest is history.
It's been a big learning curve.
I think every trip, I learn something new. Pretty sure, there is still a lot left to learn.
But enough about me! What did you learn on a camping trip when you were new to camping?
If you are a regular camper, you might need to think back to your first trip. Does any one memory jump out at you as something you didn't know about beforehand? I remember how dirt just gets everywhere, and how grotty I felt by the end of the trip!
For the new campers (or those just thinking about heading outdoors as a beginner) reading this story, well, there is a lot you are about to discover.
We give you a heads up on what could await you. And some further reading advice if you need guidance.
We have a list of 27 things you will learn on your camping trip. It might not all happen on the first trip, though, it just might!! Be prepared.
You will learn:
1. The closer you get to nature, the further you are from idiots.
Getting away from it all, going bush camping, is a great way to experience camping. Finding a quiet spot, chilling out around the campfire with no-one nearby is relaxing and typifies the Australian camping experiences for many.
You may still have some people nearby, but if you have chosen your campsite with a bit of care, you might not have even noticed them!
Now, if you have chosen your local caravan park down the road, then I can't guarantee that you will be free from idiots. You have to travel further and more remotely to secure an idiot-free zone.
How to choose a campsite - 7 beginner tips
Camping Etiquette - How not to be the camper everyone hates
2. You don't need a lot of gear to enjoy yourself.
It's easy to think you need every gadget and bit of camping gear in the shop to have a happy and successful trip. You can just get by with the basics and still have a great time.
Remember to not go crazy with shopping for gear when new to camping (it's also one of our 10 mistakes beginner campers make).
Further reading to help:
10 items beginners should take camping
3. Your car fills up fast
Despite point 2 above, it's amazing how fast your car fills up with "stuff".
By the time you get all the gear laid out before you, it seems like half the house is there. Travelling light might be the idea, but it doesn't always work out that way.
Apart from food, there isn't much difference between camping for 1 night and camping for 7 nights - you need pretty much the same amount of gear.
Further reading to help with packing your food for a trip:
Beginner camping food and preparation tips
4. Going to the toilet takes planning
When at home you take your nearby toilet for granted.
Camping means planning ahead, especially if you have children. If you have no toilet, then finding a suitable spot might need some forethought.
A drop toilet might be some distance away, so last-minute dashes aren't recommended (and at night, well, that's a whole another story!)
From what we have found, lack of toilets is a big reason why people don't camp.
Further reading on toilets:
How to Wee Outdoors (for females)
31 portable toilets for camping
Going to the toilet when camping (its not that scary)
5. How you look becomes less important
Makeup, hairstyles, and skin care are sadly neglected for the trip. Too much effort to maintain. But it's a little liberating too.
Showering, hair washing and just being clean are not easy tasks when camping (less hassle of course if you are in a caravan park). Don't worry about it too much, especially if it's only one night.
Further reading to help:
Camping Makeup - 11 things you should bring
Beginner Camping tips on how to stay clean
6. Your comfort zone is changed
Nothing is like your home.
It's not meant to be.
You will probably do things out of your comfort zone, and that can be a good thing. Enjoy it.
7. It's more work than expected
Setting up camp and packing up at the end of the trip can be a bit of work. If the weather has turned bad, it's also more of a challenge. All that gear you brought along with you, now needs to be returned to your car.
And until you find your rhythm, then working out your food and preparing meals can be a bit labour intensive at a campsite. It does get easier.
Beginner camping food and preparation tips
8. It's very dark
Living in the city, we get used to lots of lights around us. In the bush, it's incredibly dark, and just walking around needs you to have good lighting at all times otherwise you fall over everything. You appreciate good lighting far more.
9. The night time sky is amazing
The beauty of the night sky is something you won't be prepared for. You may have seen lots of stars at home, but nothing like the night sky far away from cities and towns.
10. Food tastes better outdoors
The food you have when camping seems more delicious. A toasted sandwich at home is so-so. When camping, it's a gourmet delight.
Not sure why, but it does.
Beginner guide to foil pack cooking
Cooking with a stick - easy recipes
How to make Australian S'Mores
Gourmet Jaffle Recipes
Ultimate Camping Desserts
11. Good bedding is crucial
If you bring along crappy bedding, you will regret it. In fact, it could cast negative thoughts about camping for a long time. A bit of money needs to be spent on comfortable bedding (sleeping bag, stretchers or self-inflating mats) to give you the best chance of a good night sleeping.
How to choose a self inflating mattress
How to choose a camp stretcher
12. Coffee in the morning is the best
Sometimes, you may not have had the greatest sleep ever, especially when new to camping. Despite your bedding (see point 11).
Your morning coffee will never taste better than it does when you wake up when camping.
If you can, get someone to make it for you and bring it to you in bed (especially desirable on a cold morning). The coffee will taste even better if you don't have to move around to make it.
10 clever coffee makers
6 clever coffee makers - the sequel!
13. Good shoes should stay home
Love those new expensive Nike Jordans? Then don't bring them camping. Your good shoes won't stay good for long when camping.
14. Bugs are inevitable.
Mosquitoes, flies and bugs you may never have seen before are part of the experience. Be prepared (mentally and also with the Aerogard).
15. Rain on the tent is a great sound.
Hearing the rain on the tent at night is a great sound, though it's going to sound a lot louder than it actually is. Rain on the tent during the day isn't as great because its stopping you from doing a lot of things you may want to do.....
As it pours down, you might also be praying that your tent is waterproof.
Tips to camping in a thunderstorm
Camping in the rain tips
16. Campfires are mesmerizing
You can stare at the campfire for hours, transfixed by the flames. No conversation necessary.
How to put out a campfire properly
17. Campfire smell permeates everything
It's a great smell until you arrive home, and everything will smell of the fire, including you.
18. Duct tape is your friend
|Photo source: http://www.octanecreative.com/ducttape/bodyshop/page5.html|
Duct tape will fix nearly everything. Enough said.
19. You do more
There is more to do than sit around camp (though that is perfectly OK if you want to). Camping out in the bush means you can go hiking, exploring and seeing and doing things you just wouldn't do at home.
Plus there is always something to do around the campsite!
Camping activities for kids
20. There's always 1 camper.............
In your camping group, there will be at least one person with Obsessive Campfire Adjustment Syndrome (OCAS).
They will constantly adjust the fire with a large stick or shovel, decide when a new log must go on, not be happy when someone else attends to the fire (ie. prone to criticise their choice of wood added to the fire) and not just be able to sit there, relax and appreciate the fire.
Regular campers probably can name someone right away if you ask them who they know who has OCAS. I know who it is in my family.....
21. Unplugging feels good
Technology addiction is a real thing, and by going camping you might not have access to what's going on in the world for 48 hours or so. You will get through it and come out of your camping trip unscathed. Leave your devices at home (or just for emergencies).
Do you need wifi when camping?
22. Birds are loud
Those birds in the morning are LOUD. They always seem to begin their morning squawking or screeching right outside your tent.
Never that loud at home......
23. You learn to be grateful
You will appreciate this beautiful country and the experience you have had, but part of you will be grateful when you return home to hot showers and your own bed.
24. Camping gear can be tricky
Setting up your camping gear for the first time when on the camp trip itself is a dumb idea. Trying all your gear out before you leave home will make life a bit easier for you. Some tents are more complicated than they look.
How not to look like a beginner camper
25. Damn, it's cold
The nights can be very cold, and it's easy to be underprepared for this. A tent, in winter, can be a miserable experience if you aren't prepared for the conditions.
Sitting around outside as the night draws near, you really can feel the cold. Dress appropriately and layer and layer!
How to stay warm in winter when camping
How to choose a sleeping bag
26. Noisy nights
It's surprising that when you are in your bed on your camping trip, the noises you can hear. Insects and animals can keep you awake (or wake you up in the middle of the night).
Some sounds will make you bolt upright and say "what the hell was that?" (for us, it's normally been an inquisitive possum or kangaroo). Earplugs might be an investment.
How to get a good nights sleep in a tent
27. No zip is quiet
Zips on tents and sleeping bags are deafening in the middle of the night. You will try to be quiet, but it's futile. Everyone around you will hear you getting out of the sleeping bag, and tent, and then of course, you have to get back in the tent (which is after you fell over a few things outside the tent, and tripped over a guy rope or two).
That is just 27 things you can expect to find out on your first camping trip (or at least one of your early camping trips). Actually, some of these things will continue every time you camp!!
But what is missing from this list? We want you to share below.