I’m new to this camping game. I’ve been camping a total of 5 times in my adult life – with all of those being in the last 6 months. And I’ve camped a total of 14 nights. So, I’m no pro at telling you what to do instead I’m giving you a camping checklist of things not to do.
These are the camping essentials that you really should try to avoid when camping.
The most popular time to camp in Australia is the Easter holidays and with the Easter school holidays just around the corner, I thought it’s timely to share this camping list of no-no’s.
If you’re a camper you may nod your head in agreement and think yep, I’ve done that. Or you’re thinking that’s a pretty dumb thing to do. If you’re not a camper, then have a little laugh at my expense at some of the things that we did that really are obviously the wrong thing to do.
7 Things Not To Do When Camping
Think no one can see through the fly net and sleep naked with your butt against the fly net.
This one I actually did on my very first camping trip. The fly net is a dark colour and I thought there’s no way anyone could see in. I like to sleep naked and we were camping at an event. We went to sleep when it was pitch black and we camped right at race HQ.
The next morning people started arriving early for the race. Quite a few people would have arrived before I woke up and put some clothes on. I was still pretty certain that I couldn’t be seen. It wasn’t until later on that day that I looked at the tent and realised you could see right in. Oops.
Drive your sedan thinking you’re a 4WD and be too busy looking out at the view of the camping ground and not see the sandy ground you pull up in.
We pulled up along the banks of a weir. It was pretty. It was shady. It was exactly what we were looking for. We got out and then decided to move the car a little further along. Put it in drive and … all that happens is the wheels spin. Try and go backwards. That didn’t work. Try to go forwards again … nope. Nothing. Another guy came down to us and helped us out. Luckily we weren’t in too deep and just needed to scoop out some of the sand behind the wheel and back out slowly. Note to self: we have a sedan, not a 4WD.
Forget your bikes are on a rack on the back of your car and reverse into a table and chairs
Okay, so this happened straight after getting stuck in the sand above. Our bikes are on an amazing Yakima rack that we bought recently and we admire it just about every time we go to the boot, or walk past the car. We were in such a rush to get out of being stuck that we didn’t realise that there was a permanent camp table and benches behind us and reversed straight into it.
Luckily my Specialized Shiv is a tough little bike and didn’t sustain any damage. But remember how long your car is if you’ve got things on the tow ball at the back.
Set up camp in a beautiful shady spot under the gum trees. Those buggers drop their branches
This was the same day as above. Remember I said we found the perfect, pretty spot? We were in North Queensland. It was hot afternoon sun but we found a lovely shady spot. We set up our tent and fly, put the mattress in, along with the pillows and quilt and set up our tables and chairs.
Then we looked up. Up at majestic gum trees that have a nasty habit of dropping great big branches. We could have actually looked down too and seen those branches on the ground. Surely that would’ve been a good hint about where not to set up tent.
Luckily we have a little 2 man tent and we hadn’t pegged it down. So we stood at each end, lifted it up and carried our little house for the night to a much safer area.
Miscalculate the distance to the next town and the amount of fuel you have in the car
We’ve been pretty careful driving in outback Queensland. It’s a long way between towns. We calculated where each town was, what direction we were going to travel, where we’d stop and camp and where we’d get food if we needed it.
What we didn’t think about was how much fuel we’d used before we left home. We’d filled up at home but then had travelled around 300km before leaving for our trip. So when our first stop was 600km from home, we were only thinking of those 600km and not the 300km we had already done. The fuel gods were with us that day and we limped slowly into a town with just 9km left in the tank. Phew! We haven’t made that mistake again.
Use a cheap mattress
Like I said we were new to this camping thing. My partner had all the camping gear, even though he had only ever camped twice before. We ‘invested’ in a new mattress. A $20 job from a cheap store. We thought we’d give it a go, try it out and if it got a hole we’d just buy a new one. Simple!
Except that the mattress went flat during the night, and with the air slowly leaking out we slowly got closer and closer to the ground until we could feel every twig and stone beneath us. Next morning we couldn’t get to a good camping store quick enough. We are now the proud owners of a velour topped mattress that stays pumped up.
Put your car key in the pocket of the camping chair and fold up the chair and pack it away in the car at the bottom of the boot
After our 6th night on the trot of camping we were feeling pretty chuffed with ourselves. We had this camping thing down pat. We could set up quickly and pack up almost as quickly. Tent and fly away. Table and chairs away. Mattress let down (because it doesn’t let itself down anymore). Sheet, quilt and pillows packed away. Food and cooking tubs all securely and neatly packed into the boot.
All we need to do is jump in the car, start it and go. Except you need a key. And we couldn’t find it. Food and cooking tubs unpacked, tent unpacked, table and chairs unpacked and all searched for the missing key.
And there it was, safely in the little pocket of the chair. Exactly where I had put it to keep it safe. And now we know to check those pockets and locate the key before packing everything away. Maybe it’s best to have a safe spot to always keep the key so you never lose it again.
So that’s it. Seven top tips to save you some embarrassment and time and frustration.
And as bonus tip don’t forget to zip up your tent. Otherwise, after the flies and the mossies and the Gidgee bugs (don’t even get me started on these) there won’t be any room for you in there.
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