First Time Camping Tips

first time camping guides

If you are a first-time camper, there are plenty of first-time camping tips that you should know before heading out.

Being fully prepared and knowing what to expect is the best way to ensure that you will have a good time.

first time camping guides
Where to Go Camping for the First Time?

If it is your first time camping, it is best to go to a campsite.

Many campsites have electricity and running water and a bathroom nearby. If this is too cushy for you, there are more rustic sites where you can camp that don’t have the amenities but are still safe for first-time campers.

It will take several camping trips before you are ready to take a solo camping trip off the grid.

As a first-timer, it is best to camp at a campground where there will be other people around. It is the safest way to camp if you are inexperienced.

camp at the campground for first time camping
20+ First Time Camping Tips

If you are new to camping, there are many things that you should know. If you follow these tips, your first camping experience should be a good one.

1. Keep your first trip short

This will give you a chance to get used to camping without getting overwhelmed. Also, if you forget something, it won’t be a big deal if you are only going camping for a night or two.

2. Camp close to home

It is best to camp close to home your first time out. If there is an emergency or if you forgot something very important, it won’t take long to get home.

3. Reserve a site

It is best to reserve a campsite rather than just showing up. If it is the busy time of year, there is no guarantee that there will be a site available.

4. Do your research

After booking the site, do some research to determine what amenities they offer and the rules. This will give you an idea of what to pack for your trip.

5. Buy the right tent

choose a proper camping tent

Tents tend to be smaller than they advertise. If you want to be sure there is room for everyone, buy a tent that sleeps two more people than are in your party.

For example, if you are going camping with one friend, buy a tent that sleeps four. This guide may help you choose your right camping tent.

6. Pitching the tent

When setting up your tent, you want to make sure that the area is level and that it is downwind from your fire pit. You don’t want your tent to fill with smoke during the night.

7. Buy an air mattress

Sleeping on an air mattress is much better than sleeping on the ground. Be sure to bring a pump because you won’t want to blow the mattress up manually.

bring air mattress if you are a first time camper

8. Bring enough blankets

If you are camping in the fall, you might need more than your sleeping bag to stay warm. It is best to bring extra blankets in case the nights are unseasonably cold.

9. Lights

You should bring LED battery-powered light ropes. They can be hung from your tent poles or inside the tent and will provide enough light to get around at night.

10. The campfire

You will need fire starters, matches, and firewood to build a campfire. If you bring 12 to 14 small or medium logs for each day, you should have plenty of wood. Many campsites sell wood, but you should call ahead and find out.

Before going to sleep at night, be sure to douse your fire completely before bed or before leaving the campsite. Wildfires are incredibly dangerous, and it is up to you to prevent them.

11. Water

You should bring several gallons of fresh water for drinking and cooking. If the campsite has running water or bathrooms, you can bring empty containers to fill with water.

12. Plan your meals

pack the cook utensile before camping

You should plan your meals in advance so that you know what type of cookware and cooking utensils you will need to bring.

13. Food storage

You should never leave your foot out. It is best to bring one locking cooler for perishables so that you can keep the food on ice. You should also bring a second locking cooler for dry foods that don’t need to be chilled.

It isn’t uncommon for wildlife to come to your campsite looking for food. If it is locked away, it will be safe. This is especially true if you are camping in an area where bears have been spotted.

14. Check the forecast

Before going camping, check the forecast so that you can pack your camping clothing accordingly.

15. Bring a clothesline

You should bring a long piece of rope to use as a clothesline. You can tie the rope between two trees and hang your wet clothes or towels on it.

This is a better option than lying wet clothes and towels on chairs, the picnic table, or over your tent.

bring clothesline for your first time camping

16. Sun and bug protection

Be sure to bring plenty of sunscreen and bug spray. Forgetting these things can make for a pretty miserable time.

17. Entertainment

There is only so much to do at a campsite, so you should bring fun things to keep you busy. A few great ideas include board games, cards, and books. Active games like cornhole, ladder ball, and bocce ball are also great fun while camping. You should also bring a radio.

18. Keep your valuables out of sight

It is best to keep your wallet, purse, phone, and keys out of sight from other campers. If you are at the campsite, keep them in your tent. If you leave the site, take your valuables with you or if you aren’t using your car, lock your valuables inside.

19. Bring s’mores ingredients

No camping trip is complete if you aren’t making s’mores by the fire. Be sure to pack the necessary ingredients and sticks. You can also find sticks in the woods at the campsite.

carry s'more when you camp for the first time

20. Strange noises

If you hear strange noises outside your tent in the middle of the night, don’t come out. There is a good chance that a wild animal has found its way to your campsite, and you are safest inside the tent, out of the animal’s sight.

21. Other campsites

When camping, you should never enter anyone else’s campsite unless you have been invited.

22. Follow the rules

All campgrounds have rules. Before going camping, you should find out the rules regarding setting up your camp, your fire, the noise level, and when quiet time begins.

If you fail to follow the rules set by the campground, you could be asked to leave, cutting your first camping trip short.

23. Personal hygiene

If you are camping for just one night, you won’t need to worry about showering. You can take a shower when you get home. If you are staying more than one night, you should find out if the campground has bathrooms with showers.

keep your body clean during your first time camping

If not, you can take a dip in the lake to clean up. You should also bring a hand sanitizer. Hand sanitizer is more efficient than running to the lake or the bathroom every time you need to wash your hands.

24. Keep your campsite clean

It is important that you keep your campsite clean. Don’t leave plates of uneaten food out all day because it will attract bugs and wildlife. Be sure to throw any uneaten food away and tie up the trash bag.

Before leaving the campsite, be sure to clean everything up and take your trash with you. If you don’t leave the campsite clean, you won’t be welcome at the campground again.

25. Be aware and alert

It is important that you remain aware and alert while camping. This will protect you from wildlife as well as other campers at the campground.

It will also allow you to keep an eye on your fire, so it doesn’t get out of control. If you are going to drink during your camping trip, drink responsibly.


What to Bring When Camping for the First Time?

If it is your first time camping and you are going to a campground, you won’t need to bring as much camping equipment as you would need if you were going camping off the grid.

Before you start packing, you should find out what is included with your campsite. When reserving the site, find out if each site has a picnic table and a fire pit or grill. If not, you will need to pack a camp grill and a camp table.

The items you should pack for your first time camping trip include:

  • Tent
  • Sleeping bag
  • Pillows
  • Folding chairs
  • Lantern/flashlight
  • Firewood
  • Firestarters
  • Short sleeve and long sleeve shirts
  • Jacket
  • Sleepwear
  • Swimsuit
  • Boots or shoes for rough terrain
  • Sandals/flip flops
  • Extra socks
  • Sunscreen
  • Cook pot
  • Frying pan
  • Cooking utensils
  • Eating utensils
  • Sharp knife
  • Paper plates
  • Paper cups
  • Coffee cups
  • Kettle
  • Food
  • Drinks
  • Cooler
  • Ice
  • Pot scrubber
  • Bottle opener
  • Paper towels
  • Radio
  • Trash bags
  • Dry bags for storing items
  • Toilet paper
  • Toothpaste and toothbrush
  • Toiletry kit
  • Towel
  • Feminine products
  • First aid kit
  • Medication
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Cell phone and charger or car charger
  • Rope to create a clothesline


What to Wear When Camping?

What you should wear while camping will depend on the time of your that you are going camping.

If you are going  during the summer , you want to bring clothes to keep you cool, such as shorts, t-shirts, tank tops, and sandals. You should also bring sleepwear for warm and cool weather.

The temperature can drop at night, and you might need warm sleepwear. You should also bring a bathing suit if there is a body of water nearby.

prepare suitable clothes for your first time camping

If you are going camping  in the fall , you will need to dress warmly. Long sleeve shirts, sweatshirts, and long pants are necessary. You want to wear warm socks and boots or shoes with good traction.

The nights can get cold, so be sure to bring warm sleepwear. You should also bring a winter jacket, gloves and a hat just in case it gets very cold at night.

Before you leave for your trip, you should check the weather forecast. When you know what the weather will be like, it will keep you from overpacking or under-packing.


What Is the Best Approach to Cooking on a Camping Trip?

As mentioned earlier, before going to the campsite, you should find out what amenities are included with the campsite.

If the campground doesn’t provide grills, you should bring your own camping grill. You should also bring a pot and a skillet for anything that cannot be cooked on the grill.

cook simple meals during your first time camping

It is best to cook simple meals during your first camping trip. An example of some simple meals include:

  • Breakfast: Eggs and bacon or cereal
  • Lunch: Sandwiches (cold cuts or peanut butter and jelly)
  • Dinner: Burgers and dogs

If there is fishing available, you can catch your dinner, but be sure to bring an alternative meal just in case the fish aren’t biting.

It is best to plan your meals before leaving to go camping so that you will know exactly what to bring. The last thing you want is to have to find a store nearby to buy the things that you forgot.



Camping can be a really great experience as long as you are fully prepared. If this is your first camping trip, keep it short and camp at a campground close to home.

As you become more experienced, you can get more adventurous. After several trips to a campground, you can start camping off the grid if you choose.