Guest Blog: Tips for your first camping trip
Our friend Katy’s husband had never been camping before. So, she rented a campervan and planned his first camping trip to Utah (it’s much easier to get someone into camping when a comfy queen-sized bed and a fully-equipped kitchen come along for the ride). He survived the trip, and Katy was nice enough to write up a guest blog on tips for getting those less experienced folks out into nature by camper van. Thanks, Katy!
My husband is 50. Fifty years old and never camped a day in his life! I know…
For the past four years, I’ve been suggesting (bordering on demanding) a campervan trip to finally rid my husband of his camping virginity. Shockingly, it kept getting pushed to “next year”–for four years running.
Finally, we corrected this gaping error and took Mr. Clarke camping. In Utah. In March. If you’re going to do it, you gotta really go for it.
Rookie camping tip #1: Make friends with other campers.
We picked up our van in Las Vegas, and our first task was to stock up for the weekend. I had a list of provisions, but the van gods were smiling on us. We were checking in as an awesome couple was coming in from a 3-week outing. They gave us all of their extra stuff, which was pretty much everything on our list. Also included: a giant bag of chocolate. Things were looking up before we even set out.
Tip #2: Respect your partner’s limitations (even if they don’t match your overly romantic vision of your trip).
I had this vision of really going for it. You know, hitting the road, driving until we found this cool out of the way spot, then setting up camp for the night. However, this trip was already stepping WAY out of my husband’s comfort zone. He’s a guy that thrives on plans, order, and spreadsheets (bless him). As we so often have in our ten-year marriage, we compromised.
We booked campgrounds along the way, a first for both of us. This ended up being a good thing because while doing this, we realized the one road through Cedar Breaks (our first planned stop) was closed until May. We re-routed through Nevada’s awesome Valley of Fire State Park. Score one for the planner, Mr. Clarke.
Tip #3: Know your camper and bribe accordingly.
I’m no dummy. As we were driving out of Vegas, I had strategically located the northern-most In-N-Out Burger so we could hit the road with full bellies. Everybody’s got their “thing,” and when we’re out west, that’s ours.
Tip #4: No matter how obvious, check with your rookie to make sure they thought through this whole camping thing.
I’m not going to lie. The first night was a little rough in the ole-Clarke van. Facing a big bunch of unknown was a bit overwhelming for the poor guy. A small example: Mr. Clarke is normally a boxers-to-bed kinda guy, and he didn’t think through the logistics of what happens if he has to get up in the middle of the night to use the restroom. Normally not a big deal if you’re in the middle of nowhere, but we were in campgrounds. With people.
Tip #5: Sometimes they’ve just got to figure it out.
After the first night, the tide turned. I went to get myself cleaned up, and I came back to find a husband in a completely different mindset. He had figured out how to assemble the stove and make us coffee. He was so proud of himself, and it was damn good coffee.
From that moment forward he was all in. Moral of the story, we learned a lot, saw some incredible scenery, have full confirmation that coffee heals anything, and came back still speaking to each other.
I would do it again in an absolute heartbeat. When I ask Mr. Clarke if he’d do it again, he doesn’t say no. Instead, he starts making a list (of course) of how we’ll do it differently next time. That’s a total win in my book.