1. Pre-make at least one meal. Make a chilli con carne or similar so that you have something that can be simply heated up on the first night whilst you’re still trying to find that really safe place you hid the sharp knives.
2. Use a tool-box to store all your camping bits (including the sharp knives). With lots of compartments and normally some kind of screw tray, it has lots of handy spaces to stow things that you need to find in a hurry. The beauty is that it can also double up as a seat or table too!
3. Instant light bags of charcoal. You will need to eat and there is nothing more frustrating when it’s near dark and looking like it’s about to rain to not have instant fire. A saviour if you’re not a budding Bear Grylls and don’t know the difference between kindling and small twigs (they may well be the same thing, this is why I use the cheat’s method)
4. Shop like a student. You don’t have to invest in lots of camping kit (plastic cups, collapsible bowls - the list goes on), until you’ve got the bug but you will absolutely need to bring with you the basic foods: tea bags, the little salt and pepper packets you get from the local fast food chain, the ketchup from your local fast food chain whist you’re at it! Pasta, sausages and milk, nobody will judge you for eating pasta for breakfast when you’ve eaten all the sausages on the first night. You will survive.
5. Before arriving, look on a map to locate the nearest pub, in fact, do this before you even book your campsite. If there isn’t a pub that is within an hour’s walk I suggest you book somewhere else. This also helps when you’ve eaten all your sausages on the first night.
6. Invest in a blow up mattress. I cannot begin to tell you how much more comfortable it is to sleep on a blow up mattress than a ground mat that you roll out. It is warmer and is a lot more forgiving to stony ground.
7. Don’t forget the pump for said blow up mattress otherwise you will be back on the floor anyway! You can get handy ones that plug into your car that make it even quicker and if you don’t have a car, there are also ones that you can pre-charge before leaving home.
8. Take flip flops and a host of 20p for the shower, mainly for when you need to warm up as no-one showers to keep clean whilst camping. Lots of campsites now have free showers but you don’t want to find out when it’s too late and you are nowhere near a cash point.
9. Pack at least double the amount of socks for the days you are going to be away. The only things I ever get my friends to admit they don’t like about camping is about being cold and wet, we do live in England so this is a high possibility but by ensuring you have plenty of dry clothes, especially socks, this reduces this right down and means you will at least start off dry and warm.
10. Write a list of all the things you took (and forgot), so you’ve got a handy list for next time. You will forget things but campers are friendly, look out for the tent with welly pegs outside, they will definitely have what you’ve forgotten and they will take pity on you and lend you things.