Camping puts you in touch with the raw earth in a way that few other pastimes are able to. That’s why an estimated 46.95 million people in the United States said that they had been camping in the past 12 months, as measured by Statista in spring 2017. Are you one of them, or are you soon to make yourself part of the statistic by going on a camping trip for the first time? Here are some practical tips to make your camping experience memorable.
Check the weather forecast
Always check the weather forecast before you plan your camping trip. The weather forecast tells you what type of temperature you should pack for, and if you should expect sun, clouds or rain for the duration of your trip. It can save you a lot of time, and it can save your life if you manage to steer clear of a full-on storm. Accuweather is one of the best.
Know the local wildlife
Guidebooks, apps and websites can be a great help when you’re planning your camping trip: You always want to have at least a basic idea of the local wildlife in the area. This includes areas where you might find bears or snakes, and places where you’ll encounter people hunting – yes, campers have been accidentally shot by hunters before, so don’t set up tent when it’s hunting season.
Research the camping terrain ahead of time
Take a walk-through of the camping terrain before you decide which supplies to pack and get at least a rough idea of the terrain you will be facing. Pay attention to details like where you will be setting up your tent and how close it is to trees. What kind of coverage are you facing? Is this an open field or a rocky area? Are you in the way of the local wildlife, or will your camping be unobtrusive? This can save you a huge headache. Topography can be searched through Google Maps.
Prepare for bugs along the way
Where there are campers, there are bugs. You can prepare for bugs by taking along an assortment of bug sprays, though the simplest for getting rid of (most) bugs are mint and citronella oil: They are available in sprays, candles and ointments, and bugs hate both of them. Lavender also works for some. For more virulent bugs, take along a mosquito net – and raise your sleeping area a little off the ground if you’re able to. Kinven makes a handy mosquito bracelet, or you can try OFF Deep Woods insect spray.
Take your first-aid kit
Anything can happen when you go camping or hiking. It’s easy to stumble over a rock and fall; it’s easy to sprain an ankle. It’s just as easy to run out of water, or to end up with a nasty sting, bite or burn. It is, after all, man and nature – and nature is often much better prepared. Take along a first-aid kit that’s stocked with as much as you can handle. The most common injuries are:
- Stretches and sprains
Sprains happen frequently; apply heat for the swelling and take pressure off the limb for as long as possible.
- Fractures and breaks
For breaks, immobilize the limb and seek medical attention as soon as you can.
Minor bleeding can be controlled with pressure; for major bleeding, apply constant pressure, keep the limb above the heart and apply a tourniquet until you can get to medical attention or stitch up the wound.
Infections can be deadly, though salt is strong enough to kill most infections.
- Snake bites and scorpion stings
Ensure you can identify snakes and scorpions, and make sure you know which hospitals within one phone call will carry the antidote. Do not panic, venom will only spread quicker.
- Poisonous Plants
Some poisons are deadly, others just give you a headache. Take along a guide of local plants: For skin reactions, topical creams often take care of it. Often, the antidote to a poison is another component of the same plant. Seek medical attention for serious poisoning.
Apply burn gel (usually made from aloe) to burns, or cold, sterile water. Never apply oils to burns – sometimes they can keep a burn going instead.