Tips and Tricks for the first time camper
So you’re going to go camping!
You’ve chosen your tent, you’ve rented that caravan and now you want some tips and tricks to help make your first experience go a little more smoothly. Or maybe that first experience didn’t go as well you had hoped and looking for some hacks to make the next one more successful.
Never fear! I have some tips and tricks for you! (Of course I do!)
Collected over the course of years of camping— I’ll give you jewels from our trips in a rented VW Bus, rented bungalows, and caravan trips. You’ll also benefit from the practical ideas of my husband who gained crucial camping skills from his time in the Swiss military.
(I also regularly do “research” when I camp by walking around of an evening taking a nosey into what other campers bring along. But don’t tell anyone!)
Mesh chairs are much more weather tolerant than ones made out of fabric. They will dry much quicker after that rain storm.
Consider investing in chairs that lean back, as well. If you are on the campground for a couple of days you will appreciate having something to lounge back in and they also reduce the necessary of bringing a sun lounger. Pop your cool box under your feet with a cushy towel and you are ready to enjoy the summer sun with a good book.
Consider using packing cubes. We have one for each family member. It helps keep our clothes to a minimum, keeps them all together and are easy to store in awkward places like caravan cupboards. In the VW bus we kept our cubes in our plastic box that we stored in our Outwell Awning. A cube allows each family member a definitive space and really cuts down on me having to say “no” to too many clothes.
For tents, consider plastic boxes with lids for your clothes. Not only does it make it easy to keep things together, it will keep your clothes dry if it rains. Depending on how minimalistic you are you could aim for one container for the entire family or perhaps more realistically one small box per person.
Is it really dirty? The campground isn’t a fashion show so I turn a blind eye to dirty clothes. If I can’t see a big dirty mark straight away I don’t go searching for it. Provided also that it doesn’t stink, It can be worn another day and helps keeps the amount of clothes we bring along to a minimum.
Keep a box at the front of the caravan or tent for all the shoes. It keeps the area looking tidy, easy to find and if it rains easy to quickly bring inside or in our case pushed underneath the caravan
Check minimum temperatures and consider bringing thermals to sleep in. They take up next to no space and you will be thankful if the temperatures drop during the night. This is especially true when camping in the mountains.
Don't forget enough socks and a hoodie for the evenings - even in summer.
Bring along shoes for the showers.
Consider bringing some rope to make a makeshift washing line to hang your towels.
Create a shower bag: inside the bag have your toiletries, clean clothes and a towel. That way you only have one thing to hang in the shower and you are less likely to have something fall on the floor. Plus, it keeps everything in one place.
Bring towels that dry quickly
Consider having one toiletries bag per person. We usually travel with one for the kids and one for the adults but at campgrounds that doesn’t always work. The boys go into their bathroom and the girls into theirs so they need to have their own and also we all go at different times.
Are showers included in the price of your site? If not make sure you have coins ready to use the shower. Showers at the Eienwäldli Campground cost 1chf for 4 minutes, if memory serves me. You could turn the shower on and off during that time to make the most of your 1chf.
Have small containers of shampoo, conditioner and shower gel instead of one big one for the whole family to minimize further shampoo coordinations and handoffs.
Bring a good quality citronella candles and matches to keep away the mosquitos.
Bring a fly swatter just in case your site is full of pesky flies
A mat outside the van or tent will help keep inside a little cleaner
Fairy lights may seem a little overkill but they are so pretty and create a great mood and festive atmosphere. So if you have electricity why not use it?
Sun shade on the side of your van? Consider these special anchors to help keep the shade in place during storms.
Bring either scooters or bikes for the kids. If you want to pop into the next village or just explore the campground, having at least a scooter for the kids will make it all the more exciting and quicker.
Bring a big bucket to carry your dirty dishes to and from the campground washing area
Take a shopping bag or 2 for those purchases at the campground store
Note down a couple of simple meals that you can cook with minimal equipment during the weeks leading up to the trip
Can’t live without good coffee? Why not bring your Nespresso machine along? I also saw people bringing their Thermomix with them, and certainly Instantpot pressure cookers also work.
Don’t have water on your site? Considering bringing a large plastic canister so you don’t need to keep walking back and forth collecting water.
Cable ties are a campers best friend and useful to bring along. You would be surprised all the times they can come in handy.
Don’t have mosquito screens on your camper van doors? Consider buying cheap netting from the local DIY store and attaching over an open window with magnets from the outside.
We saw lots of people using over the door organisers to keep things at reach but organised when outside
Don’t forget a hammer to get those tent pegs into the ground and pliers to get them out again!
Bring a small broom or at least a dustpan and brush to clean out the tent/awning during and at the end of your stay
Consider bringing a woven mat to place at the opening of your tent or caravan. It will help keep the inside of either of those spaces clean and is easy to sweep clean at the end of the day.
Practicing putting up your awning or tent before you get to the site. It will help reduce the stress of knowing how to do it.
What would you add to the list?
Happy Camping Season!