The first time we went camping as a family, our kids were two, four, six, and eight.
In a tent.
I think I got maybe one hour of sleep.
My husband and I grew up camping. But we hadn’t done any of it in our college, early marriage, or having-babies years. We had much learning to do.
Are you new to camping and wondering how to start? Here are some of my own tips to make things easier and more enjoyable.
1. Go for one night to start.
Maybe it’s your backyard, or maybe it’s somewhere close like Buffalo River State Park or even Fargo’s own Lindenwood Campground, but trying out tenting for one night close to home won’t make it feel so daunting. Plus, if you forget some of the essentials you only have one night to worry about it!
2. Try camper cabins/yurts.
I feel like camper cabins are a bit of a secret. One that’s almost too good to share. It’s like tent camping, but with walls and a roof and windows and screens and electricity. Some have AC, all usually have heat. Most have front porches. And there are bunk beds in all camper cabins and most yurts, usually with a table also.
You do all your cooking outside, and still bring all cooking equipment and coolers. You need to bring your own bedding as well. Do you want your family to like camping? Start with camper cabins.
Camper cabins/yurts range in cost from $70 to $90 per night (in comparison to tent camping which is $20 to $35 per night). And there is one downside: they are very challenging to reserve in the summer months. If you’re looking for a summer weekend at a particular park, I would be online the day reservations open. If you’re flexible and maybe want to try out a random week day, you might get lucky. Also, no pets are allowed inside camper cabins, which could be a downside for some families.
3. Go somewhere during the day.
You know, so you’re not just sitting around fighting bugs, wondering what all the camping hype is about. Go swimming, hiking, rent a canoe, or check out a nearby small town. Check out our guide to local camping spots or options for day trips or hiking.
4. Ask a friend who loves camping for help.
If you can, attempt to make reservations the same weekend as them at the same place. Just seeing how someone else sets things up is very helpful. For me, a weekend camping with our friends was a game-changer because of the simple task of seeing how they wash dishes.
Even if your friend has a camper and you’re in a tent or camper cabin, it can still be helpful and fun to have someone to sit around the campfire with. And trust me, the one thing camping-lovers love to do is teach others how to become camping-lovers, too. They’ll be so glad you asked!
5. Make sure you’re reserving the right type of site.
If you’re in a camper, you likely want electricity. If you’re in a tent, you might want to be away from the electricity.
Some like to tent camp in a drive-in, electric site, so they can keep supplies in their vehicle and plug in the coffee pot and a griddle. It’s a good way to camp for the first time or two. But be prepared: you might have to listen to the whir of your neighbor’s AC all night long through the tent walls.
If you are in a tent and want peace and quiet, the cart-in sites are the way to go. But the downside is then you don’t have your vehicle.
Camping is a great way to get outside and connect with not just nature, but also your own family! Hopefully these tips will help you get started and for more camping tips see, Camping for Beginners from the MN Department of National Resources.