Top 20 tips to get ready for the new camping season
1. Think about where you want to go and for how long.
Perhaps somewhere completely new, or an old favourite with a twist. You could even split a week or two between sites.
2. Do your research
It sounds a bit boring but try to involve the whole family in choosing a site. At least it spreads the blame, if everything goes pear-shaped.
3. Contact tourist information centres
Find out what’s going on in the area you want to visit at the time you’re going to make sure you make the most of your trip
4. Book early
If you have your heart set on a particular site and even a specific pitch, book it now rather than put it off and risk not getting the dates you want.
5. Draw up a camping gear checklist.
We’ve got one here to help you on your way
6. Unpack your stored gear
It’s a big job but don’t put it off. You’ll need time to check what needs to be cleaned, repaired or reproofed and then get the jobs done
7. Review last year’s trips
If there was anything you wish you had taken to make camping more comfortable, pack or buy it now.
8. Hit the sales
Fancy replacing that shaky table or buying your dream camp kitchen? The January sales might be the time to find a real bargain. You might even get one of last season’s tents at a knock-down price.
9. Wash and air sleeping bags
Sleeping bags need to be washed and aired plus zips and stitching checked rather than just pulled out of stuff sacs and shaken before repacking.
10. Check your tent thoroughly
Go beyond obvious areas like rips, holes and tangled guylines. Make sure the zips run smoothly and seal the seams again.
11. Give lights the once-over
Checking mantles and connections on gas lanterns and charge up electric versions or replacing batteries.
12. Check your wiring
Sort out your electric connection and cable now rather than a few days before the holiday.
13. Plan your meals
It’s not something you need to do in January, but plan in advance economical, easy to prepare meals to cook on site.
14. Is your insurance up-to-date?
Make sure your policy replaces old gear with new. If you are not insured, consider cover. And find out the get-out clauses.
15. Going abroad? Check your paperwork is in order
If you are planning an overseas trip, check all your documents are valid well in advance (especially passports). Shop around for good ferry and site deals and arrange breakdown cover.
16. Check your first aid kit is up to date.
It’s the sort of thing you don’t have to use much (hopefully) so supplies go out of date, leak and spoil other items. Check and replenish the contents and hope it will not be needed.
17. Think about how you’re going to pack your gear.
Consider a roof box or trailer to spread the car’s load rather than trying to cram everything into the boot
18. Arm yourself against bugs
Make sure you have a range of options to tackle insects. Ideally, you should be able to keep them away from you and your tent.
19. Sort out a proper bike rack
Despite repeated warnings, each summer sees thousands of cars driving around with lights, indicators and number plates obscured by bikes. Sort out a proper bike rack and, if necessary, get a lighting board.
20. Get your pet chipped
If you plan to take your dog camping, make sure it’s fitted with an identity chip.
Once you’ve done all that, you can relax, have a beer and feel smug… nothing can possibly go wrong*
*Please note, this is not a legally enforceable promise