Top Five Rookie Camping Mistakes

Who doesn't like spending time out in nature? Research has proven the many mental and physical benefits of time spent outside; the Japanese even have a term for it -- forest bathing.

But spending the day out in nature is one thing, spending the night is another. Whether camping or glamping, here is a list of five rookie -- or beginner -- mistakes that people often make before their first camping expedition... just remember to do the opposite of these mistakes and your first foray into camping will be a good experience.

1. Not Testing All the Camping Gear Beforehand. It certainly can be fun researching and buying all the gear you'll want for camping -- such as a camp stove, sleeping bag, air mattress, tent, lantern/lights, solar charger, and the like -- but it will do you no good if these items don't work when you arrive at your campsite. FYI, check out this list of camping essentials.

So, take all those items out of their packaging, read the instructions (and yes, I need to remind myself to do so too), and then test each piece of equipment -- enough times so that you can operate/use each tool without referring to the instructions. (But take the instructions with you when you go camping -- just in case!)

2. Buying Cheap Camping Gear. It is tempting, especially when you have a large family, to buy cheaper camping gear, but in the end, you always get what you pay for. And when you are out in the wilderness -- whether just at the campsite or deep in the woods -- you want your gear to function.

Do your research and then invest in quality gear; it may take you a little longer to buy it all, or sink you a bit deeper in your budget than you expected, but for that peace of mind and durability, you will be rewarded.

3. Making Assumptions About Campground -- Or Facilities. The worst mistake you can make is arriving at a campground and finding it closed, full, or lacking facilities. You can easily find information on almost any campground by Googling it... and you can also often find reviews from past campers, which might help you make a more informed decision as well.

Whenever possible, plan ahead, do your research, and make reservations for a campsite. Confirm the campsite you reserve has everything you need -- and then check back shortly before you head out to make sure everything is okay. (For example, during wildfire season -- and other emergencies -- some campgrounds have to make emergency closures.)

4. Arriving Late -- After Dark -- to the Campground. While many campgrounds have a self-check-in procedure, others require you to arrive by a certain time. Perhaps more importantly, it is MUCH easier to set up camp in the daylight than at night -- especially for first-time campers. Furthermore, if you make a racket setting up camp after dark, some of your camping neighbors might not be very happy with you.

Obviously, you may get delayed by unforeseen circumstances and accidents on the road, but good planning and preparation -- and allowing enough time for rest breaks or nature photos -- is the simplest solution to this mistake. Of course, if you do arrive after dark, do your best to follow the rules of the campground, as well as set up as quietly as possible.

5. Leaving Food/Trash Accessible to Wildlife. Ever watch the cartoon Yogi Bear when you were a kid? Remember that you are camping out in nature, which means animals of all sorts -- from rats to bears -- may live nearby, and many are always interested in an easy snack. It's important not to let wild animals into your food or garbage -- for both your and their health and safety.

All food should be kept tightly sealed in coolers and other locking containers at all times other than meals. When leaving the campsite for an extended period, even better to lock your food in your vehicle. In bear country, most campsites will provide you with more specific guidelines -- and some camps even provide bear proof food lockers.

Finally, follow best practices with your garbage. The mantras of leave no trace and/or pack it in/pack it out should be followed. Keep your campsite clean by removing all trash off the ground. Dispose of your trash promptly before departing the campsite and/or take it home and dispose of it then.

Dr. Randall Hansen is an advocate, educator, mentor, ethicist, and thought-leader... helping the world heal from past trauma. He is founder and CEO of, a network of empowering and transformative Websites, including

He is the author of the groundbreaking Triumph Over Trauma: Psychedelic Medicines are Helping People Heal Their Trauma, Change Their Lives, and Grow Their Spirituality and the well-received HEAL! Wholeistic Practices to Help Clear Your Trauma, Heal Yourself, and Live Your Best Life.

Dr. Hansen's focus and advocacy center around true healing ... healing that results in being able to live an authentic life filled with peace, joy, love. Learn more by visiting his personal Website, You can also check out Dr. Randall Hansen on LinkedIn.