Breathing in fresh air. Gazing through leafy branches that touch the stars. Hearing the crackle of the logs as you drift into a daydream. It’s official: you’ve caught camping fever. But where is the best place to rendezvous with Mother Nature?
Welcome back to our Camping for Newbies series! If you missed our first installment, CLICK HERE to read our Ultimate To-Bring List. Today we will work through where to camp with some simple tips I’ve picked up as a newbie camper.
There are plenty of lists available with specific campground names and phone numbers. This list is different. Below are 5 things to think about before you hit that “reserve” button or recite your credit card numbers over the phone.
- Ask friends and family for recommendations. Do you know any campers? Ask them about their favorite campgrounds and which ones to avoid. Friends and family will likely give you the real scoop; much more than the website. You can ask them questions like: “Is there reception?” “Which lot is the best?” “How are the owners/staff?” “What’s the gift shop like?” If you aren’t sure who to ask, make a posting on Facebook or other social media for recommendations. People usually love to help.
- Camp close to home. For your first time, opt for a campground nearby. That way, if you forget something you can easily retrieve it. This is also a good tip for parents with little children. There is a chance they will refuse to sleep without their own beds. When you camp close to home, one parent can return at night with the child to sleep. It is a nice safety net to be near to home when you are a camping newbie.
- Research your campsite. Learn as much as you can about your campsite. Read through the reviews on Google and Facebook. If you can’t find all your answers online, make sure to clarify things with the owners before arrival. Questions like, “What is your dog policy?” “Do you have a camp store?” “Is there Wi-Fi access?” are good to know.
- Research the area around campsite. Look at what is around the campground. It is important information to know what else there is to do and eat in the area. If you are going for a weekend, you will likely be fine to stay put. However, if you are staying a week or more, check to see if there are any attractions. You also might look for restaurants, grocery stores, and urgent care clinics. When you have a plan, it makes things go smoothly. For example, if you are staying at a state park, check to see if they have any special programs during your stay and pencil in things for the other days. Maybe on Saturday you’d like to go hiking and on Sunday, you will check out horseback riding.
- Manage Expectations: Keep an open mind and be flexible. There probably isn’t a perfect campground. Even if you find a campground that checks all of your boxes, things might not go as planned. It might rain. A baby in the next lot might cry all night. You might find a spider in your tent. The hike to the beach might be grueling in the summer sun. Prepare for the unexpected and don’t let a few hiccups ruin your time. Camping is about building your bond with nature and your family. Sometimes little snags in the plan make for fond memories! Or at least, a good story.
Stay tuned for part III in this series, Camping for Newbies: Things No One Tells You About Camping. Be sure to check out our partners at Coffee Cup Snuggler for a customized Coffee Cup Snuggler or can koozie for your upcoming camping trip. This awesome invention keeps your beverages warm or cold and stabilizes your drink for less spills. You can also customize your Snuggler!
A big shout out to Dunes State Park for their amazing campground facility. If you love the beach and the challenge of hiking in the sand dunes, book your stay at Dunes State Park.
For more places to camp near Chicago, check out this helpful list by CLICKING HERE.
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We aren’t affiliated or paid to mention any of the links or brands included in this blog, unless we recognize them as our partners. As always, our opinions are our own! To learn more about Region Adventures CLICK HERE. To find out how to advertise with us, CLICK HERE.