Camping vacations are very trendy and rightly so! More flexible and independent travel, as close to nature as hardly any other vacation home allows. Dangle the soul and just drift according to desire and mood. That’s the idea. But especially for the first camping vacation, there are a few things to consider! We have summarized a few practical ideas and preparation tips for camping beginners.
At home on the road
One of the first questions that will come up when planning a camping vacation is where to stay, or the very basic type of camping. With a car and a tent? With a caravan or rather -mobile? What do mobile homes offer? Or maybe glamping is my preferred way of camping?
Each option has its pros and cons and will depend on a few factors. A few general considerations to make:
- How many people do I want to travel with?
- Do I want to visit many different places, or even do a round trip? Or do I have one main destination from where I want to explore the local area by the day?
- How mobile do I want to be at the vacation destination?
- Comfort or independence and flexibility – which has the higher priority for me?
Traveling by car and tent gives you flexibility: no new vehicle to get used to, the footprint is of manageable size and therefore more readily available, and while the sleeping space can stay put, the car is available for local exploration.
There are compromises in comfort and space, but you can get the most out of it by choosing the right tent. Here you should also consider the number of people sleeping in the tent, as well as the terrain on which the tent will ultimately stand. Technical finesse, but not least also consumer friendliness and the available budget, play an important role in the choice. Consultation with a professional is a good idea. In any case, it is also advisable to set up and dismantle the tent several times at home to check it for completeness and to familiarize yourself with its use. The appropriate utensils, such as a sleeping mat, sleeping bag, and (inflatable) pillow are also crucial for a restful sleep in the tent and should not be underestimated.
Caravan or motor home
Those who travel with a caravan, i.e. with a trailer, also have the advantage of being able to park their vacation home on site, while maintaining mobility through the uncoupled car. For this the driving with trailer wants to be learned – often also a separate driving license is needed.
With the motorhome, you always have everything you need around you and are more independent thanks to your own sanitary facilities. However, always around also means exactly that – the living & sleeping area can not be separated from the chassis here.
So the decision between motorhome and caravan depends very much on the plans at the vacation destination. Regardless of how this decision ultimately turns out for the first camping vacation, it is recommended in any case to rent the chosen vehicle before a purchase first. After a few days of use at the latest, you will be much more certain about your needs and can make a better-informed decision about a possible purchase.
For traveling in a motorhome and choosing the right one, the number of travelers also plays an important role, because here you have to pay attention to the number of seats approved by TÜV. This must not be exceeded. Likewise, the type of driver’s license of all persons driving should be considered. Regardless of this, driving with a motor home or trailer should be practiced before the vacation, since braking behavior and the position in curves are very different from driving with a normal car.
Camping Homes & Bungalows
Another form of camping offers accommodation in camping homes or bungalows. These promise higher comfort, more equipment, and a vacation that requires less planning in terms of what to bring along and catering. In exchange, one makes one or the other deduction in the flexibility, because the pre-booking times for camping homes should often not be underestimated. In any case, even with this option, you can enjoy the immediate proximity to nature and the down-to-earth “simple life” of the campsite.
Destination & Planning
For your first camping trip, it is best to choose a destination with a moderate climate – this makes planning, equipment and also living in a tent or motorhome easier. For the route, keep in mind that you will be traveling slower, especially with a trailer or motorhome, and prefer to plan shorter stages. This should not mean, however, that one fritters away valuable vacation time only with driving! Also include sights and experiences along the route in your travel planning. The journey is the destination, as the saying goes. Speaking of the way: find out in advance about highway tolls and corresponding toll booths.
It is also advisable to reserve camping sites in advance. Especially in the high season, it can happen that you spontaneously get no more. The search for an alternative on-site costs time and especially nerves.
When choosing the right campsite, it is important to pay attention to the facilities – especially those traveling with children often want a little more comfort and infrastructure within the facility. On family-friendly campsites, you will also find playmates for the kids more quickly. Attention when traveling with dogs! They are not tolerated on all campsites.
In addition to pitches on campsites, some places also have designated pitches outside. However, since these are rare in most destinations, it pays to have a backup plan. If you want to go wild camping – i.e. free of any facilities or infrastructure – you should inform yourself about the local law in any case. In many countries, wild camping is heavily regulated or completely prohibited (for example, in Austria, Germany, or Italy).
What do I need to bring?
A checklist is the easiest way to ensure that you don’t forget any essential items. There are already numerous examples online. After each trip, you can expand your personal checklist with everything you would have liked to have with you. At the same time, make sure you concentrate on the essentials when packing. Every unnecessary part takes up living space in case of doubt. Read the available equipment of the campsite in advance also carefully! Also in this way you can save one or the other piece of luggage and get possible necessities on the spot.
Nevertheless, we would like to go into detail about a few essentials here. Not to be underestimated are:
- First aid kit
- Spare equipment for tent and co.
- Rope or clothesline
- Insect spray
- Lighting and headlamps
- Earplugs and/or sleeping goggles
- Ingredients for a few meals that you can easily prepare
As far as packing and loading are concerned, it is recommended: heavy things down, so the center of gravity of the vehicle remains low. Those who have a water tank on board (camper) should not fill it completely for the trip, water is available anyway at any campsite or gas station. The wastewater tank should also be emptied before each journey.
You can’t wait for your (first) camping vacation?
We wish you a lot of fun and a good trip!