Camping for Newbies Part I: The Ultimate To-Bring List

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Camping for Newbies Part I: The Ultimate To-Bring List

Why camp? There are many reasons to pack your bags and head to nature’s playground. Some people camp to feel like a kid again. They enjoy reliving childhood memories through the eyes of their own children. Others might appreciate an affordable getaway. It won’t cost a fortune to grab a tent and some marshmallows and visit a local campground. Plus, camping allows you to turn off your phone and finally read that paperback. It is the ultimate escape!

But what if you’re new? Everyone starts somewhere! As a former first-time camper, I had many, “I should have brought…” and “Next time, I’ll be sure to…” moments. Therefore, I decided to write the blog I wish I had prior to camping! Region Adventures is the perfect spot for this series, Camping for Newbies. There are so many wonderful opportunities to camp across the Region!  

What should you bring? What should you leave at home? I’ve learned that camping takes a lot more strategy than a regular hotel vacation. Yes, you are “roughing it” but you don’t have to be uncomfortable. On the other hand, you won’t want to overpack. Most vehicles have limited space, so only pack what you need and a few fun activities. Get creative with your packing!

Below is my ultimate camping check list for newbies! Of course, each campsite is different. Some have electric while others don’t. Some may have a grill top for the fire ring while other don’t. Check out the specifics to know what you’re working with and tweak this list to fit your own campsite. Also, many of these tips are aimed at tent-users, although, readers with campers can benefit from this list.    


Tent/Camper: If you are buying a tent, make sure to get the “pop-up” kind. They are so much easier and set up in mere minutes! Check out the Walmart brand for an affordable option. Psst…they are cheaper on Walmart’s website than Amazon. You can also rent RVs and campers before you make that big purchase. Did you know you can rent campers on AirBNB?


Bedding: Self-inflating mattresses are handy. Grab your pillow, a fitted sheet, a heavy blanket and a lighter blanket. An eye mask is also nice if you want to sleep in.


Toiletries: Bring mini sized shampoos to save space. A shower caddy also works well and bring flipflops to wear in the shower. You can almost count on the fact that the showers will be in the “roughing it” category, so bring a spray bottle of disinfectant. Store your toothbrush & paste in Ziplock bags. Bring more feminine supplies and diapers/wipes than you think you’ll need. Of course, you will need deodorant and toothbrush/paste.


Clothing line & Clips: If your campsite has a lake or river, bring a clothing line to hang from trees.


Tablecloth: For the picnic bench.


Large Cooler & Smaller Cooler: If you grab a big bag of ice, it will last for days. But it won’t leave you much room for food! Check with your campground and replenish ice with small bags. At night, put firewood on top of the cooler so wildlife doesn’t steal from you!


Drinks: Bring gallons of water and refillable water bottles. Gatorade is great to keep hydrated.  The Coffee Cup Snuggler is a great way to keep your beverages cold/hot and prevent help to prevent spillage. Check them out HERE.


Food: Pack a lot of snacks. Peanut butter and jelly, nuts, hotdogs, popcorn, s’more stuff, oatmeal, carrots, cereal, and milk are all good ideas. Decide what you will use, disposable plates and utensils or reusable. The environment thanks you for reusable option, but be sure to bring a wash bucket, sponge, dish soap, and towel. For meals, you can cook some things over the fire, like hot dogs and soup. Plan meals ahead of time to cut out the guesswork. Here is a list of ideas so you don’t get burnt out on campfire hotdogs. However, keep it simple for your first few times camping. You should also have a Plan B in case in rains. Crock pots work great for easy meals. Also, a tea kettle for the fire is a must for hot water for instant coffee and tea. Don’t forget oven mitts! Depending on your meals, don’t forget the bakeware needed for open-flame cooking. (Look for nearby restaurants in advance for a plan C ??)


Fan: Bring a fan or two, especially in hot weather. You will want to run a fan on your electronics you bring during the day because the tents trap heat.


Activities: You might not have reception or Wi-Fi access. Bring a deck of cards, UNO, dice, and other small, tech-free games. Children might like to bring their bikes (if you have a car rack), balls, jumping rope, bubbles, chalk, etc.. Don’t leave their special comfort toy or blanket behind!


Flashlights & lanterns: Each person should have their own, and then a few extra. Some families like to camp in style or “glamp” and string lights around their area. It does create a serene ambiance.


Hammock: Bring extra rope in case the trees are far apart.


Books: Since you might be without Wi-Fi either because of your location or because you are choosing to log off, bring that book you’ve been itching to read! If you have kids have them bring some books you can offer them if they are complaining of boredom.


Paper & Pen: Your creativity will be at its peak in nature. Go old fashioned and bring a pen and paper to jot down ideas. Adult beverages


Instruments: Do you play any instruments? Bring them along for songs around the campfire. You may not be able to stream anything due to lack of connection.


Meds/First Aid: Your prescription medication, extra pairs of contact lens, and a first aid kit are essentials. You also might grad a few over the counter medications like Benadryl, Asprin, Pepto-Bismol, and Imodium AD.


Insect Repellant/Sunscreen: Put these on your list of must-haves! You might also bring their counterparts, after burn lotion and afterbite ointment. 


Garbage Bags


Paper Towels


Hair Ties & Brush: Bring extra hair ties in case you lose some! You might find other uses for them, as well.


Doormat or large outdoor rug: Shoes off before entering the tent/camper! Your welcome mat will remind your campers (and you!) to abide by this sacred rule.


Extra Clothing: When camping, everything gets dirty. Fast. Unless you are renting/borrowing/buying a top-of-the-line camper equipped with a washer and dryer, or your campground has coin machine, you will need extra changes of clothes. This is where creativity comes in!


Bathing Suits & Beach Towels


Camping Chairs: Get a camping chair for each camper to recline around the fire.  


Firewood: Check for restrictions on the kind of wood you can bring.


Lighter: Bring a backup, too! If you are unfamiliar with building fires, research online and watch how-to videos. Fires can be tricky!

Are you ready to camp? Stay tuned for part II in this series, Camping for Newbies: Where to Camp? Be sure to check out  our partners at Coffee Cup Snuggler for a customized Coffee Cup Snuggler, or can koozie. If you found this blog helpful, be sure to share it with friends. We love shout outs! 


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