By Renee Wainwright
Fancy taking a break from the hustle and bustle of the city? There’s definitely no shortage of gorgeous destinations across NSW… and many of them are best enjoyed from the comfort of canvas. That’s right: Camping. It’s without a doubt one of the best ways to really enjoy Australia’s natural, rugged wilderness.
But what if you’ve never been camping before? Firstly, don’t panic! Every camper has to start somewhere. Secondly, check out our handy survival guide below that will cover all the basic essentials:
Give Yourself Less to Worry About
First thing’s first: You’re not going to be able to relax and enjoy the camping experience if you’re too busy worrying about what’s going on back home. So before you set off on your trip, spend a bit of time getting things sorted. Probably the most important thing to think about is your pets (if you have them, of course!). Make sure they’re in the hands of someone you trust so that you’re not worrying about them. Think about your plants, too. Have you arranged for someone to come in and water them regularly?
Another vital thing to think about is home security. If your property is going to be empty while you’re gone, it’s always a good idea to put your valuables in storage. While you might be taking your mobile phone and camera with you, you’ll probably want to leave laptops, tablet devices, and jewellery behind.
Know what to Expect
If you turn up at your campsite and it’s absolutely nothing like you expected, you might have a difficult time adjusting to the environment. So do a bit of research before you go so that you know what to expect. For example, does the campsite have power? Are there showers and toilets? Are there any activities or shops nearby, or are you pretty much in the middle of nowhere? Campsite websites are good for information, and National Park Authority websites may have some useful area info, too.
While we’re on this topic, for your first camping trip it’s really important to choose a campsite that you’re going to get on with. For example, if you really don’t feel that you’re a ‘camping person’, then you’ll probably have a better time at a more glamping-esque type site that’s got loads of facilities. Or if you’re worried about learning the ropes while all eyes are on you, you might be best at a smaller, more back-to-basics type of campsite that’s a little quieter and where you can find an out-of-the-way spot.
Choose the Right Tent
There’s a saying in the camping world: A two-man tent is a one-man tent. So if you’re picking up some new gear in preparation for your trip, remember that advertised tent berths are based on sleeping space. Not living space. Not socialising space. Just sleeping space. If you’re not used to living practically on top of another person, you’re probably not going to enjoy being squeezed into a tiny canvas shelter with your camping mates! For your first trip especially, it’s never a bad idea to get a tent that sleeps one more person than you actually need it to just to give you a bit of room to get accustomed to camping.
Pack the Right Things
Surviving your first camping trip means perfecting your overnight travel packing skills. You’re only going to have limited room in the car - and possibly even less room in your tent - so it’s not wise to pack everything including the kitchen sink. Try to just stick to the absolute essentials to keep things simple:
Suitable outdoor clothing that can be recycled the next day (and maybe even the next after that)
Layers - while daytimes can be hot, it can get pretty chilly in the wilderness at night
Toiletries in a small bag, including toothpaste, toothbrush, face wipes, and deodorant
Underwear and socks, socks, socks! If your feet get wet hiking, you’ll be glad of a spare pair
Suitable walking boots that are comfortable
A well-stocked first-aid kit
Food and drink supplies (including tons of water)
“What do you want to do?”.
“I don’t know, what do you want to do?”
By the time you’ve had a good few rounds of that with your camp buddies, you’ve lost half your day! Don’t waste time trying to think up activities to do each day. Instead, plan ahead and have a rough plan of what activities you want to do in the local area, and which days you could fit them into your schedule.
Another important thing to plan ahead is meals. Remember that, depending on whether your campsite has electricity points or not, you may not be able to keep foods refrigerated. And if you’re camping in a small tent, you might not have much storage space for supplies and cooking utensils, either. Do some meal planning before your trip, thinking up some easy campfire recipes that are easy to whip up in the great outdoors (handy hint: one-pot meals are amazing for camping as there’s a lot less cleaning up!).
Get to Grips with Camping Protocols
Don’t be ‘THAT’ camper. Don’t be the uniformed camper that breaks the rules. It’s definitely worth spending a little time getting to know the official - and unofficial - camping laws. There’s quite a few, but the two most important ones are noise and rubbish. Noise is pretty obvious: Canvas isn’t soundproof! A lot of campsites will have a listed curfew on noise, so try to keep things quiet after this time of night.
When it comes to rubbish, remember that kangaroos, foxes, and possums are all food stealers. If you leave your rubbish lying around overnight, you can guarantee it will be strewn across the entire campsite by morning. Think hanging it from a tree will protect it? Not a chance. These little guys are determined. The best thing you can do is to bag up all your rubbish and keep it locked in your car. You can dispose of it in the bin when you leave the campsite. It’s best to keep your food in sealable plastic tubs, too.
Most of all… Enjoy it!
Camping is supposed to be fun, so try to go with the flow and simply enjoy it! If it doesn’t quite go to plan - and let’s face it, you’re never going to get it 100% perfect on your first ever trip - remember that practice makes perfect. The more you venture out, the more you’ll begin to fall in love with camping.
Renee Wainwright is the gobox Mobile Storage Manager whose years of experience in the industry allow her to provide customised and tailored mobile storage solutions to suit residential, business and corporate customer’s storage and moving needs.