27 Things You Will Learn When You Go Camping For The First Time


27 lessons learned from camping for the first time - beginner camping tips



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.


27 lessons learned from camping for the first time - beginner camping tips




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.

Further reading:

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.


27 lessons learned from camping for the first time - beginner camping tips



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



27 lessons learned from camping for the first time - beginner camping tips



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



27 lessons learned from camping for the first time - beginner camping tips




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.


Further reading:

Beginner camping food and preparation tips



8.  It's very dark

 
27 lessons learned from camping for the first time - beginner camping tips




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


27 lessons learned from camping for the first time - beginner camping tips


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.

Further reading:

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.

Further reading:

How to choose a self inflating mattress
How to choose a camp stretcher 



12.   Coffee in the morning is the best


27 lessons learned from camping for the first time - beginner camping tips



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.

Further reading:

10 clever coffee makers
6 clever coffee makers - the sequel! 



13.   Good shoes should stay home

 

27 lessons learned from camping for the first time - beginner camping tips



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.


27 lessons learned from camping for the first time - beginner camping tips




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.


Further reading:

Tips to camping in a thunderstorm
Camping in the rain tips 



16.   Campfires are mesmerizing

 

27 lessons learned from camping for the first time - beginner camping tips



You can stare at the campfire for hours, transfixed by the flames.  No conversation necessary.


Further reading:

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

 

27 lessons learned from camping for the first time - beginner camping tips
Photo source:    http://www.octanecreative.com/ducttape/bodyshop/page5.html


Duct tape will fix nearly everything.    Enough said.

 

 

19.  You do more

 

27 lessons learned from camping for the first time - beginner camping tips



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!


Further reading:

Camping activities for kids



20.   There's always 1 camper.............


27 lessons learned from camping for the first time - beginner camping tips


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


27 lessons learned from camping for the first time - beginner camping tips


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).



Further reading:

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.

Very early.

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.


Further reading:

How not to look like a beginner camper

 

 

25.     Damn, it's cold

 

27 lessons learned from camping for the first time - beginner camping tips



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!


Further reading:

How to stay warm in winter when camping
How to choose a sleeping bag 




26.   Noisy nights

 
27 lessons learned from camping for the first time - beginner camping tips

 

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.





Further reading:

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.