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Planning Your First Camping Trip? Make it Easy

Whether you’re pitching a tent borrowed from a neighbour or cruising in a rented RV, the essence of camping remains the same: to reconnect with nature and create lasting memories. For some novice campers the mere thought of sleeping outside and cooking over a campfire can be daunting, but with preparation, even newbies can enjoy their outdoor experience.

Packing the Car for a Camping Trip

Here are some simple tips to help plan your camping trips:

Expectations

What type of camping experience are you after? Would you like a deluxe campground with a swimming pool and organized kids’ programs or an abundance of hiking trails and lake activities? Deciding on this will help in your campground selection process. For a shorter and perhaps easier getaway start off with a campground close to home.

Reservations

Reserve your campground site. Doing so will secure your spot and, since the Covid-19 pandemic, this is often necessary during peak seasons. Consider what might be the ideal site, whether this means partial sun, shade or a ‘pull-thru’ site for the RV. (Check links below to locate and reserve campsites in British Columbia.)

Familiarization

Research the available facilities and any necessary permits or regulations to purchase or adhere to. Arrive early at your campsite, particularly if you are unfamiliar with the RV or require extra time to set up tents. Locate the garbage disposal area and familiarize yourself with quiet time hours.

Herald Provincial Park, Salmon Arm, Shuswap Lake

Gear Selection

If you don’t own camping equipment, consider borrowing or renting gear for your first few trips. Assemble any tents, tarps/covers and cooking stoves in advance to verify that everything works correctly. Air out any sleeping bags, pack appropriate pillows and check that all flashlights, headlamps and lanterns are working and charged. Pack any necessary portable chargers and extra batteries, as well as a fire starter and extinguisher, insect repellant and first-aid kit. Dollar store deals can be a camper’s best friend. (Try plastic storage buckets for easy organization and eye masks and ear plugs for sensitive sleepers.)

Entertainment Options

Pack a variety of card and board games to keep everyone entertained and try a temporary ban on electronic devices to fully immerse in the outdoor experience. Room permitting, bring along outdoor games such as cornhole, horseshoes, balls and Frisbees. Inquire about organized indoor and outdoor kids’ programs offered by the campground or nearby community events.

Prior Centennial Campground, Pender Island

Picnic Practicalities

Invest in a few tablecloths and clips, bug repellant candles, small side tables, rain/shade covers and an outdoor tent/RV entrance rug to keep the dirt out.

Child Safety

Bring a portable playpen for babies to ensure their safety while parents are busy setting up camp. Pack child specific first-aid supplies.

Man and dog by a lake
Follow Pet Rules in Campgrounds

Pet Patrol

If pets are allowed at the campsite and you’re bringing yours, pack their food, snacks, toys and sleeping essentials as well as a pet first-aid kit. Verify what rules to abide by; there may be restrictions with regards to leash length or breed of dog.

Cooking Supplies

Pack everyday kitchen items including a good peeler, pots and pans, tongs, spatulas and a grill grate for cooking over the fire. Bring trash bags, paper and tea towels, biodegradable cleaning sprays, sponges and wipes. Stock up on sauces and seasonings, oils, herbs and salt and pepper to liven up your meals.

Packing Bin for Camping
Clear Plastic Packing Bins Make Great Containers for Camping

Meals and Snacks

Prep before you go, consider dietary needs/preferences, select multi-use ingredients for easy recipes, pack non-perishable and healthy high-energy snacks and use storage containers. Ensure you have a variety of proteins, starches and carbohydrates to keep you feeling energized and bring ample bottled water as a back-up should the campsite water not be potable.

Everybody Clean-up

Camping should be a time for all family members to relax. Take turns sharing the chores and get everyone involved, inside and out of the tent and RV. Practice the Camper’s Code principles which means cleaning up after yourself and leaving the campsite better than you found it.

Campsite at Bromley Rock Provincial Park, Similkameen
Campsite at Bromley Rock Provincial Park, Similkameen

What to Wear

Clothing selection should be tailored to the destination, weather conditions and activities and outings. Rain Gear: Invest in waterproof boots, a water-resistant coat and an umbrella. Layering Pieces: Pack versatile clothes such as breathable long-sleeved shirts and lightweight tops and underclothes to adapt to fluctuating temperatures, and extra socks should shoes and socks get wet. Sun Protection: Shield yourself from rays with a baseball cap or fishing hat. Sunscreen is a must! Footwear: Bring suitable footwear such as hiking boots or comfortable walking shoes. Flip-flops or waterproof sandals are essential, particularly if you’ll be using communal showers or hiking near water.

The more you camp, the more planning an outing will be second nature. Reflect on what worked well and what didn’t after each trip and use the above tips and your gained knowledge to improve upon future camping adventures.

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A good resource to help find all campgrounds (provincial, private, national and recreation sites) located throughout British Columbia is www.campingrvbc.com/camping. You can also make a reservation at some provincial parks at DiscoverCamping. For national parks go to Parks Canada Reservation Service. To reserve at a private facility, contact the individual campground. More information on Recreation Sites can be found at sitesandtrailsbc.ca

Share your BC camping, RVing and travel photos using hashtag #CampinBC #explorebc

It’s always a great day to #Campinbc

Winter RV Adventure for Camping Newbies at Sunshine Valley & Manning Park, BC

If only we had known how amazing RVing in the winter is, we would have taken this trip a long time ago! Our journey started in earnest on a Wednesday morning when we had made arrangements to pick up a rental RV from CanaDream. We had already checked in online five days before, uploaded required documents and information, paid our deposit and reviewed demo videos so we knew all about the RV we were renting before we arrived. Upon arrival, we were greeted by friendly staff who checked that all of our details were in order and then my husband and I did a thorough walk-through of the unit.

For information on renting an RV check out the blog First Time RVing In Winter – What To Know About Renting An RV.

Canadream parking lot
At Canadream in Vancouver picking up our RV

From the lot we hit the highway (under a torrential downpour) and a couple of hours later, arrived at Sunshine Valley as the rain turned to giant snowflakes. Despite our worries about driving the unit in the snow, it handled beautifully. Our guess is it’s so heavy it crushes down the snow – whatever the reason, it performed well on both bare and snowy roads for the whole trip.

We soon found out we were one of only a few campers! Yes, the site was dotted with RVs, but these were ‘weekend guys’ – members who leave their unit up year-round to visit on the weekends like a cabin. Pretty ingenious, if you ask me! Meanwhile we pretty well had the place to ourselves.

Canadream RV camping at Sunshine Valley Resort in the snow
RV’s in campground are for the weekend warriors

Once we pulled into our spot and my husband hooked up the power, we pushed a button to send out the slide-out and began to set up our new home. Here are some of the items we quickly realized we should have brought. Perhaps this list will help with your planning!

Some RV Packing Extras (Forgotten by Some Novices)

  • Electric kettle (unit comes with a stove-top kettle but electric would be easier)
  • Toaster
  • A snowy shoe/boot mat (for at the bottom of the stairs)
  • Slippers (this isn’t a tent – you do a fair bit of walking around inside!)
  • Frying pan
  • A flat, small baking sheet and aluminum foil
  • Extra cutlery (there’s exactly enough for 4 people)
  • A small drying rack (unless you have a family member who loves to dry dishes!)
  • Oven mitts
  • Dishwashing gloves as the water can get nice and hot
  • Toilet paper (one-ply) – one roll was provided
  • Swim towels (you get lovely shower towels in the unit, but some microtowels are helpful)

Having set up our beds (our daughter immediately chose the alcove above the driver) we hit the (indoor) swimming pool and hot tubs and began to plan the next day’s activities. Our new winter camping adventure had begun!

RV in campsite with snow
Waking up to the sound of snow falling

The next morning we woke up to the soft sound of snow tinkling on the roof of the RV. Our bed was toasty as we sank deeper into the flannel sheets, and stared out the window to a winter wonderland. It was breathtaking.

My daughter and I stirred first and prepared a batch of wake-and-shake pancakes and some berry sauce. We woke up my husband with a hot coffee, ate breakfast, and they headed out to the lodge for a swim and a shower while I tidied up and battened down the hatches for our planned day trip.

The roads looked nicely plowed, and Manning’s toboggan run and skating rink were open, and so we drove out of the park and up the highway to this gorgeous alpine resort. At first we weren’t sure about our choice not to bring a second vehicle, but the RV crushed any snow in our way and powered up the hills no problem.

Tobogganing at Manning Park

Another perk of bringing the RV? Sheer convenience at Manning Park. We decided against ice skating (our daughter’s not really sure on her skates) and threw on our snowsuits for some toboggan runs.

Once we were tired and ready for a meal we stopped into the lounge for some pub fare. The great thing about having the RV right there was we were able to change into comfortable clothes very easily. Once our bellies were full, we headed back to the RV resort for naps, more swimming, dinner, and a movie.

It was the perfect day trip and a great way to round out our visit.

TIP: If you find this blog interesting why not subscribe to the enewsletter and never miss another story!

New to winter camping? Check out the following blog.

First Time RVing in Winter – What to Know about Renting an RV

Share your BC camping and travel photos using #CampinBC

It’s always a great day to #CampinBC

Published: February 14th, 2018

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