Don’t head out without knowing how to do this stuff

So, you’re getting ready for a big camping trip. You’ve got all of the gear and supplies you think you will need (including fixin’s for s’mores), you have the directions to your campsite, and you even know what songs you’ll sing around the campfire. But, do you even know how to start a fire? What about putting up a tent?

If you’re a first-time camper, the basic stuff may sound easy, but it’s probably trickier than you realize. This is why it pays to do a little research – and maybe even take the time for some practice – before you get to the campground and discover that you don’t know as much as you thought you did. To have a great trip, these are the things you should think about ahead of time.

Finding the right spot

When you take your RV to a campground, there will probably be designated places to set up camp. But that doesn’t mean you should just pick any of them. The best spot for camping is flat and even without any rocks or roots. If possible, choose an elevated area so that if it rains, you won’t have to worry about pooling water.

Putting up your tent

If you’ve never put up a tent before, you’ll definitely want to practice before you go. Newer models may seem pretty simple, but the set up can be a challenge. If you’re buying or renting from a store, feel free to ask for a demonstration. You can also find several videos online that will give you good tips and instructions.

Starting a fire

If you have matches or a lighter, starting a fire isn’t hard. However, keeping one going – and doing it safely – can be more difficult. If there isn’t a spot already intended for a fire, the first thing to do is clear the area of anything that could easily catch on fire. Then you’ll need to gather tinder materials like dry leaves and bark, kindling like small branches, and wood, and then lay them correctly. Before starting your fire, be sure to have a bucket of water nearby. This can be used in case things get out of hand or for putting it out for the night.

Cooking over your campfire

One of the best parts of bringing an RV to a campsite is that you get some of the luxuries of home. While you can always use your kitchen to cook, the fun of camping is to rough it, at least a little bit. Whether you intend to bring some canned food or perhaps fish for your dinner, there are many ways to use your campfire to create some tasty meals. Just be sure to bring along the right items, like cast iron cookware and a grill grate.

Purifying your water

While you may load up on bottled water before you take off, it’s always good to know what to do in case you run out. This may be especially important if you plan to do some hiking that will take you miles away from your RV. You basically have three choices when it comes to purifying water from a lake or stream: boil it, use iodine tablets, or run it through a filter. It’s important to remember that no matter how clear or clean water looks, it can contain contaminants, so it needs to be treated before you drink it.

While learning as you go can be fun while camping, you will have a more enjoyable time if you head to your campsite with these basic nuggets of knowledge. For much more information about camping and RVs, think about becoming a member of the RV Advisor community.