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The Ultimate Guide to an Unforgettable Camping Summer

camping summer essentials list

There’s something truly magical about knowing it’s time to start planning your camping summer adventures. Planning something to look forward to and savour is as good for your mental health as actually taking your first road trip and *official research even agrees with that! Knowing that you’ll soon be escaping the chaos of everyday life and immersing yourself in a world of the sights, sounds and smells of nature is great for your sense of well-being with a bit of wilderness therapy. So whether you’re a seasoned camper or a newbie, this ultimate guide is your ticket to an unforgettable outdoor summer camping experience you’ll want to share on your socials.

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From choosing the perfect campsite to packing your essential camping gear, there are a few things to think through, but don’t worry as we’ll walk you through every step of the process and it will help you maximise the positive anticipation of your trip, which is great for your mental health. We’ll also be sharing how you can plan your campfire meals, set up camp, and stay safe at your campsite. This comprehensive guide will also introduce you to some of the most spectacular camping destinations to inspire you to look further afield than the local campsite as there are so many incredible places to explore this summer.

So grab your tent, lace up your hiking boots and get ready to start an adventure of a lifetime. This summer, let the call of the wild guide you to an unforgettable camping experience that will leave you with memories to keep you going through the fall and winter.

Choosing the Perfect Camping Summer Destination

When choosing the perfect camping destination, the options are endless. From majestic mountains to serene lakeshores, there is a camping spot for every type of adventurer. One important factor to consider is the type of landscape you prefer. Do you enjoy the ruggedness of mountains, the tranquillity of forests, the vastness of deserts or feel a call to the shore? Research different locations and read reviews to get a sense of what each destination you have in mind has to offer.

Another consideration is the activities that are available at each campsite and if they are a good fit for you and your family. For instance, are you interested in hiking, fishing, or simply relaxing by the campfire? Some campsites offer amenities such as swimming pools, playgrounds, and even Wi-Fi, while others provide a more rustic experience. Think about what’s important for you and how the campsite you have in mind might align with that.

Lastly, consider the distance and accessibility of the campsite. So, do you prefer a quick weekend getaway or are you happy to travel a few hours to reach your ideal destination? The time and effort it will take to get to your campsite destination, especially if you have limited days away or are camping with young children, is an important consideration.

The Ultimate Camping Checklist With A Glamping Packing Tick List Add-On

summer camping gear storage

Essential Camping Gear and Equipment

Packing the right gear and equipment is essential for a successful camping trip. Here are some must-haves to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable experience in the great outdoors.

  1. Tent: Choose a tent that suits your needs, whether it’s a lightweight backpacking tent, camping pop up tent, blow-up inflatable camping tent or a family-sized cabin tent. Look for one that is easy to set up and provides enough protection from the elements.
  2. Sleeping bag and sleeping pad: Invest in a quality sleeping bag that is appropriate for the season and climate of your camping destination. A sleeping pad will provide insulation and cushioning for a good night’s sleep. You can even consider an air bed if you have enough packing space.
  3. Cooking equipment: A portable stove or grill, cookware, utensils, and a cooler for perishable items are essential for preparing meals when camping. Opt for lightweight and durable options that are easy to move around.
  4. Lighting: Pack headlamps, flashlights, and lanterns to provide enough lighting during dusk and evening hours. Also, don’t forget to bring extra batteries or a portable charger.
  5. Clothing and footwear: Take enough layers of clothing with you to accommodate changing weather conditions, especially for spring and autumn. Pack sturdy hiking boots, comfortable walking shoes, rain gear and extra socks. Don’t forget a warm hat and gloves for chilly nights.

It is also wise to check the camping regulations and the campsite layout of your destination to make sure you have all the necessary equipment and gear. For example, you might need to take safety equipment in an area with certain types of wildlife, such as bears. Or maybe you won’t be allowed to use a naked flame so will need to cook your food another way. Something that caught us out before was not having enough cable length to connect to our campsite electricity output from our pitch. Finding out in advance helps with any last-minute panics.

Planning Your Camping Summer Itinerary

A well-planned camping itinerary can make all the difference when trying to make the most of your outdoor adventure. Here are some tips to help:

  1. Research the area: Before your trip, familiarize yourself with the geography and attractions of your chosen camping destination. Then make a list of nearby hiking trails, lakes, viewpoints, and other points of interest. If there’s patchy wifi where. you’re going, this is really helpful to do in advance.
  2. Prioritize activities: Decide which activities are most important to you and plan your days to cover everything you most want to do. If you’re an avid hiker, schedule longer hikes on days with predicted good weather. If you enjoy fishing, plan to spend time at the lake during peak fishing hours.
  3. Allow for downtime: While it’s tempting to fill every moment, it’s important to allow for relaxation and downtime. Leave room in your activity program for lounging by the campfire, reading a book, or simply enjoying the serenity of nature.
  4. Be flexible: Keep in mind that weather conditions and unexpected circumstances can impact your plans so have backup activities in mind just in case your original plans need to change at the last minute. Stay open to new experiences and embrace the spontaneity of camping.

By planning ahead and considering your likes and dislikes, you can create an itinerary that can help you make the most of your campsite adventure.

Camping Safety Tips and Precautions

We all want a worry-free camping experience so safety should always be something you pay attention to. Here are some safety tips and precautions to keep in mind for a worry-free campsite experience.

  1. Know the rules and regulations: As we’ve already mentioned, familiarising yourself with the rules and regulations of the campsite you will be staying at is important, especially if the area is new to you. Respect any fire restrictions, wildlife guidelines, and designated camping areas and always leave no trace.
  2. Check the weather forecast: Stay informed about the weather conditions before and during your camping trip. Be prepared for changes in temperature, storms, or other weather-related events. These can sneak up on you if you aren’t paying attention, especially the ‘rain gods’!
  3. Set up camp away from hazards: Choose a campsite that’s away from hazards such as dead trees, cliffs, or unstable ground. Be aware of your surroundings and avoid setting up camp near water that may flood during heavy rain. We have woken to find campers on lower ground in the middle of a flood after a major overnight rain storm. Thankfully we were on higher ground, but it’s a reminder to pay attention to what’s near your pitch.
  4. Practice campfire safety: If campfires are allowed, follow proper campfire safety protocols. Clear a safe area around the fire, never leave it unattended, and fully extinguish the fire before leaving or going to sleep. This also means checking the area under the fire to make sure there isn’t any smouldering ash that’s likely to take hold while no one’s looking.
  5. Stay hydrated and nourished: Drink plenty of water and eat a balanced diet to stay energised and hydrated during your camping trip. We always let the healthy diet go a bit when on vacation but don’t go man. Being sure to pack enough non-perishable snacks and meals that are easy to prepare and store can help you from getting caught out with extreme hunger and then overdoing it when you finally get to the store.
  6. Wildlife awareness: Respect wildlife and maintain a safe distance, especially from large animals like bears. Store food and other scented items in bear-resistant containers or hang them from a tree branch some way from your tent to avoid attracting animals to your campsite.

By following these safety tips and precautions, you can be happy you will have a safe and enjoyable camping experience that you’ll remember for all the right reasons.

Fun activities for memorable camping summer experiences

Camping isn’t just about setting up a tent and sleeping under the stars; it’s also about doing out-of-the-ordinary things embracing the great outdoors and immersing yourself in nature’s wonders. To make your camping adventure truly unforgettable, it’s essential to plan some fun activities that will create lasting memories, especially if you are camping with kids.

  1. Hiking and Nature Walks: One of the best ways to explore the beauty of your camping destination is by going on a hike or nature walk. Research the trails in the area and choose one that suits your fitness level and interests. Whether it’s a stroll through a scenic forest or a challenging climb up a mountain, hiking allows you to connect with nature on a deeper level, stay active and enjoy breathtaking views along the way.
  2. Campfire Stories and Stargazing: After a day filled with outdoor adventures, there’s nothing quite like gathering around a campfire and sharing stories with fellow campers while stargazing. Roast marshmallows, make s’mores, and let the warmth of the fire create an atmosphere of camaraderie and relaxation. Once the fire dies down, lay back and gaze at the starry night sky, while you spot the Milky Way or the North Star. Camping away from city lights will give you a perfect stargazing opportunity to see the awe-inspiring beauty of the universe, which is so often invisible.
  3. Water Activities: If your campsite is near a lake, river, or beach, take advantage of the water and enjoy a variety of activities. Go swimming, kayaking, canoeing, or fishing. These water activities not only provide a refreshing break from the summer heat but also offer opportunities for adventure and fun.

Camping with kids and family-friendly activities

Camping is an excellent opportunity to bond with your family and create cherished memories that last a lifetime throughout generations. However, when planning a camping trip with kids, it’s important to consider their needs and interests to ensure an enjoyable experience for everyone.

  1. Nature Scavenger Hunt: Keep your little ones entertained and engaged by organising a nature scavenger hunt. Create a list of items they can find in the surrounding area, such as pinecones, different types of leaves, or specific wildlife. This activity not only encourages exploration but also helps children develop an appreciation for the world around them.
  2. Campfire Cooking: Involve the whole family in meal preparation by cooking over a campfire. Teach your kids how to safely roast hot dogs on sticks or make BBQ meals filled with their favourite ingredients. This hands-on experience will not only be fun but also teach valuable life skills and generate a sense of independence. As long as you give them easy campfire recipes and a bit of safety guidance, they can be left alone to enjoy making a meal for the whole family.
  3. Outdoor Games: Pack some outdoor games that the whole family can enjoy. Frisbee, badminton, or a simple game of catch can keep everyone entertained and active. These games promote physical activity and provide an opportunity to bond as a family while enjoying the beauty of the outdoors.

Leave no trace principles and eco-friendly camping

As outdoor enthusiasts, we need to protect and preserve the natural environment. By following the principles of “Leave No Trace,” we can minimise our impact on the wilderness and ensure its beauty remains for future generations to enjoy. But this can be fun too and the best way to do this is to get everyone engaged in a positive game that gives the winner a prize.

  1. Dispose of Waste Properly: Always pack out what you pack in. Make sure to bring garbage bags and dispose of all rubbish in designated bins or, if necessary, take them home with you. A 2-minute clean-up with the prize given to the winner who does the best job is a great way to get the kids involved.
  2. Respect Wildlife: Watching wildlife from a distance while camping is a great way to learn about the wildlife but be sure not to disturb them. Do not feed the animals either as it can disrupt their natural diet and cause dependency. It is also wise to keep your food securely stored to prevent wildlife from being attracted to your campsite. Remember, it’s their home, and we are just the visitors.
  3. Minimise Campfire Impact: Campfires can be a highlight of any camping trip, but it’s essential to use them responsibly. Before starting a fire, check if there are any fire restrictions in place. Use established fire rings or pits whenever possible and be mindful of the surrounding vegetation. Never leave a campfire unattended and ensure it is completely extinguished before leaving the site.

Want to go camping summer long?

If you’re anything like us, going camping for an entire summer is on your bucket list but it’s not something you can jump into without first planning and preparing for your experience. Although you might want to follow your nose and drift along all summer without making firm campsite bookings, you will need to choose a variety of camping locations to keep your adventure fresh and exciting throughout the summer.

Our advice is to research a number of campsites that offer different landscapes, facilities, and activities to suit you and your travel companion. Also, be sure to pack the right camping gear. This means investing in high-quality items that can cope with extended use in the climate of your location. This includes a durable tent, sleeping bags, cooking equipment, and outdoor furniture you can relax in. Take a look at our glamping and camping checklist for more inspiration.

Temperatures will vary throughout the day, even in the summer, so consider packing clothing layers for different weather conditions and temperatures. It is also worth planning for the worst, especially if you are in Europe. Plan your meals for the first few days in advance so you don’t need to think about supplies, and stock up on kitchen essentials non-perishable items and fresh produce when possible. Dried or tinned food is particularly helpful here.

Be mindful of safety precautions, including proper food storage to prevent attracting wildlife (especially in bear country) and ALWAYS practice ‘Leave No Trace’ principles to minimize your impact in the wild. Stay flexible and adaptable to changing situations, such as weather or unexpected challenges, and be prepared to adjust your plans accordingly. Keeping an eye on your local weather app is also very useful when planning your route or next campsite location. Finally, realise how amazing it is to fully immerse yourself in the beauty of nature while camping summer long and what a privilege that really is. For more inspiration, take a look at our detailed article below.

Camping for the Whole Summer? Yes You Can! Here’s How…

Embracing the Great Outdoors

Camping in the summer offers an incredible opportunity to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life and reconnect with nature. By following this ultimate guide, you’ll be prepared to embark on unforgettable camping adventures. From fun activities that create lasting memories to family-friendly ideas and eco-friendly practices, these tips will ensure an enjoyable and responsible camping experience.

So, pack your camping gear, leave behind your technology, and immerse yourself in the beauty of the great outdoors. Let the sounds of nature be your lullaby as you fall asleep under a starlit sky after an evening of stargazing with friends and family. Embrace the tranquillity, rejuvenate your spirit, and create memories that will last a lifetime. Happy camping!

Inspired Camping

*Fred Bryant (2003) Savoring Beliefs Inventory (SBI): A scale for measuring beliefs about savouring, Journal of Mental Health, 12:2, 175-196, DOI: 10.1080/0963823031000103489

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