If you’re planning a camping trip this summer, chances are you dream of enjoying spectacular scenery, hiking through the woods and sleeping under the stars. Don’t let the unexpected turn your dream vacation into a camping disaster. Keep the good times rolling during your next camping trip with these helpful tips from Mike E. Middleton, lifelong outdoorsman and leader of the Hiking Hampton Roads Meetup group.
Brace for Bad Weather
Not knowing if your tent can withstand a passing shower could keep you up at night and put a damper on your vacation fun. Middleton recommends putting your tent and gear through its paces well before the trip. “Put up your tent and any other outside gear you will be using in the backyard and then spray it with the hose for a good five or ten minutes,” he says. “That way, even if it doesn’t rain during your trip, you will have peace of mind knowing your tent and gear are watertight.”
Get Good Gear
No one wants to be in the dark with a dead flashlight. While you should check all your gear before the trip, you also want to make sure you have spares on hand. “It’s about redundancy,” Middleton says. “If something fails, you want to have another to rely on. Also, don’t buy cheap gear. I once bought a six-person tent for $300 and knew as soon as I looked at the seams that it would leak. I took it back and exchanged it for a two-person tent for the same price. It’s definitely worth it to buy the best gear you can afford.”
Ward Off Wildlife
Spotting an eagle during your camping trip would be awe-inspiring, but being chased by a mosquito the size of an eagle would ruin anybody’s day. While there is no magic solution for dealing with all wildlife encounters, including run-ins with insects, you can prepare yourself ahead of time.
“Timing is so important when it comes to handling wildlife,” Middleton says. “Having knowledge of when certain bugs come out or when animals come to a river to drink can save everyone a lot of aggravation.” If you can, travel with a guide who knows the terrain and the creatures that call it home. Otherwise, park rangers and campground staff are invaluable sources of knowledge and can tell you all about the animals and bugs you are most likely to encounter, as well as how to handle those chance meetings.
Tempers can flare when people are tired and hungry at the end of the day, which is why Middleton recommends laying out the ground rules well before the trip gets underway. “Set everyone down beforehand and talk about how disagreements will be handled,” he says. “Make sure all the campers know they will have to compromise on some things for the safety of the group.
Treat Tummy Aches
When it comes to aches, pains and other illnesses, Middleton likes to be prepared. He packs a variety of pain relievers for every trip, as well as liquid bandages and Ace bandages. “In addition to a first-aid kit, you should also check out the facilities that are available at your camping spot,” he says. “Know what kind of access you will have to emergency help.” If you opt for camping in the deep wilderness, Middleton recommends purchasing an emergency position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB). This handy device can send a message to emergency crews to quickly summon help and possibly save lives.