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OK. So you have decided where you want to camp; the weather is fine and warm; and you are looking forward to a relaxing and interesting time at your chosen spot. However, without some careful thought and planning, your expectations can be dashed into a nightmare at worst or an unpleasant experience at the least. The following tips are provided from personal experience and some from observations of others and common sense really. It doesn’t matter whether you are tenting, caravanning or RVing, some of the following may be of help, and they are mostly appropriate for wherever you are in the world.
- First, don’t trust the weather – nor the forecasts! Yes it is fine and sunny right now but we all know how fickle the weather can be. In a tent you don’t want to wake up floating in a lake. In a caravan or RV you generally spend a lot of time outside the vehicle so it would be nice to have dry surroundings; so check your selected site for any depressions or evidence of water logging; and when you do set up, do so with a change in the weather in mind – be prepared. Remember, if it is going to be cool then higher ground will be warmer. If there is a chance of rain don’t camp in what could become a floodway. So though you might get some shelter from the wind at the base of a hill, a waterfall is not a good spot to be in!
- If you are in a caravan or RV select a spot as flat and level as possible. If you do this you won’t need to do much to make your rig level for the fridge to work efficiently, and when you lay things down on the table inside they won’t be continually rolling off the end!
- Check your site for rocks and sharp objects. In the fun times you will often run around barefoot. You don’t want to be hobbling around with bandaged feet for the duration of your stay. In tents, you want to ensure your groundsheet stays intact and your inflatable mattress stays inflated, so make your site inspection for offending sharp objects a thorough one.
- It should go without saying that you should always try to have your head above your feet when lying down, so in a tent it is good if your site slopes a little – with good drainage as a value add. Don’t select too steep a slope though. You don’t want to be continually waking up in the middle of the night climbing back on to your mattress!
- Don’t forget to check for insect nests. Overhanging tree branches may be good for shade but if the leaves touch your tent or camper, before you know it you could be crawling with ants. This goes for other pests too. Check beforehand, preferably with locals, if there are any other seasonal insect pests around. Is it mating season for snakes – are they on the move? Are there bears or other endemic dangerous creatures around? Though it is good to have water nearby, camping too close to water could put you in the proximity of mosquitoes, wildlife going to drink, or fellow campers tramping though your site to fill up their water containers – all potential inconveniences to say the least!
- Look for shade but bear in mind the season. The sun is at its fiercest between 10am and 3pm, so some shade in summer during these times will be good. However, some early morning sun will help any overnight condensation or dew evaporate quickly. But do not overdo the shade thing. It is also nice to have as much light as you can during the day, and some bright winter sun can make your holiday much more enjoyable than a cold dark environment.
- Select a site that is far enough away from fellow campers to allow you both to enjoy the experience of the outdoors. Existing fire-rings will give you an idea of where former campsites have been. If you are camping on a site with power and water, look where the connections are, and if they are not local to your site then make sure you have enough hose and cable to reach them without laying them straight through a neighbouring camper’s site.
- Check out where the toilet and shower facilities are. Select a site not too far away from them in case you have to stagger around in the middle of the night. On the other hand, don’t get too close because of the constant to and fro foot traffic, and for some reason the facility blocks always seem to attract a lot of boisterous children. If you don’t mind that, fine, but if you want a little peace, choose your site with that in mind.
There are many things to consider when selecting a campsite and I am sure I have missed some and you will be able to come up with some others. If so, share them by dropping them into a comment following this post.
Filed under: Camp Site Tips
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