10 Common Camping Mistakes Beginners Make
Updated: Mar 26
Will this be the first time you are going camping? Are you going with a seasoned camper or will you be going with friends who have no prior camping experience? Before you get going on this adventure, read this article.
Camping can be a lot of fun. But a small disaster can be traumatizing. It’s better to avoid the common camping mistakes and have a good time! We enjoy camping so much because it is a good opportunity to shut off from the noise of society and focus on the essentials – food, clothing, shelter, and good company. Here’s our top 10 list of mistakes beginners make:
1. You don’t check where you are going.
If you are going camping, ensure one person in your group knows where to go and how to get there. Bring the necessities – a map and a compass could come in handy. Sometimes phone signal may be unreliable, so you have to be with someone who knows where they are going. Aside from getting to the destination on time, you will know what footwear to wear based on the terrains you will be passing. In most camping destinations in the Philippines, you can hire a local tour guide to take you to the campsite.
2. You under-pack or overpack.
If you overpack, you will be carrying unnecessary weight and fatigue faster. If you under pack, you may not be bringing the necessities such as a first aid kit, or enough liquids to keep you hydrated and enough food for the duration of your stay. It’s impolite to be constantly begging for food and water from your fellow campers as they had to carry that weight.
3. Leaving when it’s too late.
The best time to set-up the tent is before it gets too hot or before it gets too dark. Estimate your arrival time to be before lunch or before sundown. When it’s too hot, you’ll get too sweaty and you will need to be hydrating more than normal. If there is no water source nearby, you may not have enough for your whole trip.
If it’s too dark, you may run into some problems while pitching the tent with a limited light source. It will be easy to lose things in the dark, especially all the tent pegs required to keep your tent down.
Before you go on this trip, you can research the average duration of a hike towards a campsite. Most popular camping destinations tell you the average time a fit person, intermediately fit person and an unfit person would take to reach the campsite.
4. Wearing fabrics that don’t wick the sweat.
It’s a noob thing to wear anything cotton to a camping trip that requires a hike. Any material that doesn’t wick sweat will either keep you wet and you may end up getting sick because you stay wet and humid the whole time. Avoid clothing such as cotton and denim, these materials get heavy when wet and take the whole day to dry.
Materials that you should be wearing can include: breathable nylon, polyester, polypropylene, spandex, tencel and wool.
5. Not leaving your schedule with someone who is not on the trip.
It is important that someone else out of your group knows your itinerary. There’s always a potential for injuries when you’re out in the woods, so it’s best if you are easily located if ever you need to be medically evacuated or rescued. Some areas in the Philippines are also known to be quite high-risk with the extremists (Abu-Sayyaf, Moro Islamic Liberation Front, and other militant groups), so it is good to have a planned itinerary ready and reviewed by peers or hiking experts before any planned camping trips.
For extra safety, some people opt to get special security insurance which covers helicopter evacuation and kidnap-for-ransom charges.
6. Leaving your food out after eating.
When you are out in the wild, your closest neighbor is most likely going to be a wild animal. In the Philippines, you can feel slightly safer as you don’t have any neighboring bears or cheetahs, but you still have the iguanas and snakes, and they are probably eyeing your food from a distance waiting for you to fall asleep.
Once you’ve finished eating, make sure you leave no trace of food outside. Even your garbage bags need to be kept inside the tent to avoid animals rummaging and tearing through these bags in the middle of the night. It happened to me once, and trust me, it’s so scary hearing some movements just outside your tent and not knowing exactly what it is!
7. Forgetting to bring the first aid basics.
There are many things that you may need to add to your protection kit – it’s not just sunblock to protect yourself from the sun but also the mosquitos, bugs, and spiders. Make sure your bug spray has DEET, and your sunscreen is water resistant so it doesn’t get washed off from your sweat. Band-aids can come in handy for blisters or accidental wounds, and also pain relievers, allergy medicines and medicine for lose-bowel or constipation.
8. Not preparing enough survival gear.
Aside from a first aid kit, there are a few handy tools that can help you when camping. Just remember, you are back to basics and you don’t have the comfort of carrying everything from your home with you on the trip, so you have to select useful types of equipment that can act as multi-purpose tools. Swiss army knives, high-beam flashlights, ropes, a power bank and a satellite phone are a few of the essentials.
For a complete list, check out our Comprehensive Travel Check List When Preparing for a Trip article and 10 Travel Essentials You Should Bring When Backpacking Solo.
9. Not reading the weather forecast beforehand.
The weather is a little more unpredictable in the mountains than it is closer to the shorelines. There is always a bigger possibility of getting a few raindrops anytime of the year when you are up on the mountains, so even if you prepare your basic rain gear for your hike, it’s always safer to know the weather forecast for the days you are planning to be out camping.
The Philippines gets hit with an average of 20 tropical cyclones annually, and approximately 5 of which are destructive. Even if you are travelling during summer, it doesn’t hurt to check the weather forecast in the areas you plan to go camping.
One of my favorite apps is AccuWeather, it almost accurately tells you the exact times of rain, clouds, snow, etc.
10. Forgetting hygiene basics.
People always seem to leave their hygiene at home and think that it is okay to be unhygienic when camping. Just because you have a lower probability of being able to take a full body shower, doesn’t mean you should just forget the basics of being hygienic. I’m sure you have all heard the saying “Cleanliness is next to godliness“. You don’t need to be a spiritual or religious person just to adhere to that, but if you don’t take care of your hygiene, you will be a discomfort to the other people you surround yourself with. Bring a toothbrush, deodorant and enough change of clothes. Alcohol and a wipe cloth if you really smell that bad.
Lastly, enjoy the view!
Leaving sanitary waste behind is also a big NO-NO when camping. Leave nothing but footprints. Kill nothing but time. Take nothing but photographs. You are out in nature and you should leave the place better than how you saw it.
If you want more tips on how to be a sustainable and responsible camper or hiker, check out our vlog about: Little Changes You Can Do To Help Save The Environment.
To check out more of Natalie Tarin’s travels, visit: @coco.natty
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