Camping offers a way to experience the outdoors and disconnect from life as we know. For that, it shouldn’t be anything less than enjoyable not just for you but also for the environment and those around you.

But this doesn’t just happen. You have to plan for it and avoid some of the most common pitfalls that dull the experience for most campers. Lucky for you, you don’t have to run into these mistakes when out there.

Learn about them right below.

1. Leave Your Food Out

Out there in the woods, you’re among a thriving ecosystem with lots of animals – skunks, squirrels, bears, and chipmunks just to mention a few.

And guess what? They’re just as hungry for a bite as you – and curious too.

That means they wouldn’t hesitate to ravage through an unattended piece of a meal – you know where that leaves you as far as your hunger pangs are concerned.

Besides, it’s not like the animals will be as organized in their mealtime manners as you. They’ll tear through as quickly as possible leaving behind a huge mess that, of course, will need cleaning up.

So what should you do instead?

Your car is a perfect place for food storage. If not, you can bring along bear bags or bear canisters. These will allow you to leave the food outside and still be sure to find it if need be.

Also, ensure you hang the bags or canisters for enhanced security.

2. Set Up After Dark

Arriving at your campsite in the darkness is a bad idea especially for your safety. Naturally, visibility has significantly reduced and you might never know what you’re stepping on. And, that site might not cut it as far as your comfort goes – think of a rocky ground or roots running through it.

Yes, maybe you can shift the next day, but why don’t you arrive early enough to settle for once and for all?

Sure, having a source of light can help but the experience won’t be the same as settling when the sun is still up. So make a point of getting out there early enough to put up your tent before nightfall.

Additionally, you won’t be a bother to your new neighbors with all the commotion as you try to set up your tent.

3. Forget To Clean Up

This is something a good number of campers do, which is pretty unfortunate.

Remember, camping isn’t just about you. It’s about any other person who’ll come at that site after you and most importantly, appreciating the environment we live in.

Too much trash is going to leave that campsite unpleasant which takes away the joy that comes with camping. So be a lamb and make sure that anything requiring disposing of is handled appropriately.

Bring a trash bag with you and empty it in the campground dumpster or take it home with you.

4. Leave Fires Unattended

Fires are only natural when you’re out there in the woods. They’re essential as much as they’re a hazard so taking your eyes off one is something you should never do.

Because, if anything goes wrong, we’re talking about a large scale disaster, human-made at that. And, again, camping is all about making a connection with nature – something that’ll be impossible after you as a camper fails to keep an eye on those flames.

So be sure to put out any fires you don’t immediately need and, also, don’t start a fire if you think you cannot give it your maximum attention.

Read our guide to camping fire safety to get a better idea of handling camp flames.

5. Annoy Neighboring Campers

You go camping to at least catch a break from the bustle of everyday life. You want some peace and so do the other campers. Don’t be the reason your camping neighbors regret their decision to come out. You wouldn’t want that, right?

Basically, just being a decent human being by minding others will do. Here’s how you can do that with respect to a few things –

  • Pets – ensure your pets, especially dogs, are with you at all times. Don’t let them wander off to other people’s campsites. Consider putting yours on a leash if it’s the hyper kind.
  • Noise – no one likes noise in any setting so there is no need to be that noisy guy at a campsite. Know when to switch off that generator or call off the party if you’re a group.
  • Alcohol – downing a few bottles isn’t always a bad idea depending on the camp rules (some don’t allow). But be careful not to overdo it to the point where you become a bother to other campers.

6. Wear Cotton

For your own good, don’t do this. It doesn’t matter if you have this fancy cotton shirt that says “save trees”.

Cotton is a hydrophilic material which means it dries pretty slowly and absorbs moisture fast. That’s not something you want on your body at a time when you need as much heat as possible.

Cotton can keep you warm well when dry but once it becomes wet; you’ll be on your own. Synthetics, Cocona (from coconut husks), and merino wool are some of the better options.

For very extreme conditions, consider grabbing a heated jacket

At The End of The Day…

Camping is fun when you know what not to do. Mistakes make everyone’s experience unbearable – the above six are some of the most common.

Now that you know them, be sure to keep them in mind as you gear up for your next camping trip.

Kelvin Mwathi