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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Prepare to Camp

Camping 101

Do you feel ready to pack your bags and head across the country by car, van, truck or trailer?  Let's outline a few things before you head on your way.  Face it, the more prepared you are, the more successful your camping trip will be. 


How much time are you planning on being away?  How far will you travel?  Plan your campsites so they aren't too far away from each other.  If not, you won't get the full camping experience, you'll have mostly road trip instead.  If you talk to the seasoned camper, they'll tell you the real experience is at the campground or campsite.  However, if you prefer to have tent free, camper free scenery, being on the open road longer may be worth it.


Pick up a few maps to take on the road with you, preferably ones that clearly depict the state and national grounds.  This way you wont have to rely on a cell phone, which given the locations of many campsites, service might be less than stellar.  Going camping should mean less electronic time, and more interacting in nature.


To ensure you don't have to drive the open road without cell service or a place to stay, it's a good idea to plan your sleeping sites ahead of time.  Call or make an online reservation well in advance.  Camping season, at the height of its peak, will leave you wishing you had.  If you're new to camping, you'll need to be aware of the fact that some of the roads leading to the campgrounds can be treacherous for larger vehicles or even your trailer or RV.


Before heading on the open road for a prolonged period of time, get a vehicle check-up to ensure it's in optimal operational health.  Make sure the spare tire is ready and be sure to have tire-changing equipment on hand.  Prepare an emergency kit with the essentials and a few other low cost,  key items that might not be needed daily. One can't be too prepared for the unpredictable.


Keep in mind that weather conditions can change in some regions rather quickly.  Making camp in a low lying area might mean a flooded tent or even a mudslide, depending on the conditions and topography of the camping area.  Obviously, camping in the winter, which some people do, will require a few extra essentials like a shovel, scraper, heater and snow chains on the tires.  Please exercise caution.


If you think the whole nation has gone to credit card, think again.  Some establishments are cash only, including gas stations.  Also, you may encounter toll roads that may require you to dig under the seat for change.  Avoid doing the dishes at the restaurant, digging for coins under the car floor mat, or being totally embarrassed at the gas station.  For this reason, and many others, you should carry a stash of cash.


For planning and information on what to pack for your camping trip, check out this article: Family Camping Trip.  Have a safe, fun, well-thought-out vacation.  Make memories.