Everyone should camp at least once in their lives. Camping allows you to commune with nature, relax, spend time with family and friends away from the distractions of everyday life, and it is just plain fun, but it also takes a lot more planning than glamping does. With this being said, if you’ve never been camping before, it can be difficult to choose a campsite for your needs. Taking the time to consider a few different things will help you to find the perfect campsite so you can get ready and start camping.
What We'll Cover
RV and Car Camping
RVs are a great way to camp if you are not particularly keen on the idea of camping in a tent under the stars. There are some factors you should think about when choosing your perfect RV campsite, or a campsite allowing you to bring your car. Keep the following factors in mind to help you find the perfect campsite to work for any RV.
Research the Campsite
We cannot stress how important it is to check the campsite and do your research prior to setting out. You may notice that some campgrounds do not allow RVs, cars or any other form of motorized vehicle, which is common at national parks. It is always best to figure this out before you go and try to take your car or RV. You can do your research in a few different ways. While online reviews and websites are a great way to do a bit of quick research, you do have to keep in mind that unless it is a website fully dedicated to the campsite, the information may not be totally accurate.
Reviews can give you information about the experience of other campers, but a company site can give you a list of rules for you to follow at the campground. If the campground you are looking at does not have a website, you can always call the manager or associated office and get the information directly from the source. Make sure you get the name of the person you speak with, as well as a contact number in case you have more questions after you get to the campground.
Reservations Are Important
Some campgrounds do require a reservation in advance. This does a few things. For starters, it helps to make sure each person on the campsite at any given time is fully accounted for. In the case of an emergency, such as a bad storm, a flood, or other difficult conditions, it is always best to have a written record of who should be on the site at the time the event occurs. Reservations also work to give everyone a fair shot at getting a spot at the campground and it helps alleviate the stress and tension, should you arrive at the campground and there is no space for you.
Reservations help in keeping the campground at a comfortable capacity as well. If everyone was allowed to show up without having any sort of reservation, there would be times in which there isn’t enough space for everyone, or the campground is too crowded. Reservations help you have peace of mind for your arrival: there is going to be a place for you to stay.
Amenities Can Make a Big Difference
Still another thing to consider is what there is to do or what extra amenities are around the campground you choose. You need to look at amenities on the campsite like toilets, showers, or even vending machines, as well as what there is to do around the campsite, should you want to sightsee or find some fun. You also want to look for things like indoor space. Does the campground have indoor bathrooms you can use? Do they have vending machines, eating areas, or showers? Some campgrounds do even have washing machines and eating areas, and some may even have areas to play games, areas that are air conditioned, and more.
In terms of the amenities at your campsite, you want to look for ones to fit your interests. If you like to fish, you may want to look for a campsite located near a fishing lake. If you like hiking, you may want to look for a campground with hiking trails, or if you want to go caving, look for one that offers expiditions. You can look up things located close to the campground and see what interests you, or what you might like to do when you are not sleeping at the campground. Taking the time to consider what is around the campsite or what you can do while you are camping is going to help you find the perfect campground. For example, if the site does not have electricity, you may need to bring a camping generator. And if you want to bring your dog camping, make sure Fido is allowed first.
Tent Camping and Finding the Right Tent Spot
Tent camping is a great way to go if you do not have an RV or you do not want to take your car. Taking the time to find a great tent campsite can make a huge difference. Tent camping is a bit different, and there are a few things to keep in mind.
Choosing the High Ground
When you are tent camping, the ground that you choose does make a huge difference. The first thing you want to do is find hard enough ground so you can drive your tent stakes securely into it. The last thing you want is your tent coming loose and blowing away while you are sleeping. While you want the ground to be firm and hard, you also don’t want it to be rock solid either. Rock is not going to allow you to drive your stakes far enough, but a firm soil will. Depending on the site you choose, there may be pre-driven tent stakes.
You also want to consider the high ground at your campsite. Most people do not plan to go camping if there is a huge chance of rain, but Mother Nature rarely waits for you to complete your perfect camping trip. Finding the high ground is going to ensure no water will pool around your tent or camping spot. High ground will also keep you up and away from smells and water, which might pool from other campsites as well.
Shade for Your Campsite
You also want to find shade when camping. In times when it is very hot outside, shade can help to make your campsite bearable and more comfortable overall. Shade can also help keep you dry if it starts to rain. In colder weather, it’s best to bring a camping heater or other means to protect yourself from the elements.
Water and Your Campsite
For those camping near water or in a campsite with a water feature, you want to make sure you are not camping too close to the water. In the case of a flash flood, you need to make sure you are not near the water. Though you are going to avoid camping if there is a great deal of flooding predicted, you cannot be too sure if there is going to be flash flooding. Erring on the side of caution is always best when it comes to camping near water. In addition, other campers may distract you if you camp near a fishing lake. Or, if the water is not moving, you may have to deal with bugs.
When camping, you also want to consider where you are going to dispose of your waste and dirty water. With any water source, you want to stay at least 200 feet away when either dumping your waste water or relieving yourself. Water is a big factor in your campsite, and taking the time to find the right place to dispose of your waste water will keep you, other campers, and the water source clean and safe.
Avoid Dead Trees
Even though that big old oak tree looks like a great place to camp under, avoiding dead trees or trees with dead branches can literally save your life. Camping near or under dead or dying trees put you and your family or friends in immediate danger. When a tree dies, its roots also die and they begin to shrink, making the tree far more likely to fall over in high wind and lose its branches. This is dangerous overall in terms of falling pieces and the tree itself falling.
Dead trees are dangerous and most campgrounds try to remove them. However, if you do notice a dead tree upon arrival at your campsite, you need to move away from the tree and avoid it entirely. With dead trees, there isn’t a way of knowing when it might fall over, when the wind might be enough to uproot it, or when it might lose branches that can fall on your tent or on you or your fellow campers. Taking the time to camp away from dead trees can save your life and can prevent major injury.
Privacy and Nearby Campers
When camping, you do want some measure of privacy. You may not want to be completely secluded, but you do want to make sure you are not right on top of other campers. You may want to build a fire and make s’mores late at night and might not want to bother the other campers, or vice versa. It is always best to take the time to find a private enough campsite for your own needs.
The truth is other campers are always going to be around. Taking the time to make sure your campsite is as private as you want it to be can truly make a difference in your overall camping experience.
The last thing you want to keep in mind is how much space you will need. If you are going to be sleeping in a tent and don’t plan on coming out, or don’t feel like you’ll need a ton of space, you don’t have to worry too much about how much space you’ll have.
When you camp, you do tend to spread out further than you might think. Finding a large-enough space for both your tent and entire family is going to make a big difference in your experience. Space is a big factor that can make you feel crowded or closed in, and it can make your camping trip less than desirable.
Camping is a fun experience, and finding the perfect campground for your camping trip is just as important as the rest of the preparation. If you take the time to search out the right campground and the right campsite within that campground, or the right campsite not on a campground, it will make a huge difference. These are a few tips that are meant to help you find the best campsite for your needs and for your particular camping trip and what you hope to achieve. Camping is fun, but camping at the perfect campsite is even better and can be truly life changing.