Tips for a successful summer camping trip

The summer camping season can seem like the best of all possible worlds: great weather, open camping sites, the prime season for the nation’s best attractions, and the chance of an ice-cream under a beaming sun. However, summer camping trips can go slightly awry if you don’t properly prepare beforehand and keep your wits about you when you’re on your adventure. Here are our tips for ensuring all goes to plan.

Two orange tents in open grassy setting with sun setting and trees in background

1. Keep Your Tent Cool

There are many ways to keep your tent cool; pay attention to the slant of your tent or camper van when you orient it in a campsite: where is the sun’s natural arc in relation to its position? It’s ideal, in hot locations, to ensure your tent is in the shade for at least part of the day to keep it cool, and that it can be opened to allow the circulation of cooler air and stop stuffiness.

Stock your campervan or tent with portable, battery-run fans to help you through still nights, and remember that privacy screens can also act as good bug screens if your tent doesn’t come fitted with mosquito protection. Yes, you still need to put down that groundsheet; just because the weather is hot doesn’t mean it won’t get damp and cold overnight.

You’ll also want to sleep with the right materials to make sure you don’t wake up a sweaty mess. If you only have a winter or cold-weather sleeping bag, it’s a good idea to invest in another, lighter one to keep you insulated but not over-heated.


2. Banish Bugs

It doesn’t have to be a bug free-for-all on your pitch. Burning sage over the camping stove provides a lovely smell and has the added advantage of dissuading any mosquitos in the area. Watch other sources of lighting, too; moths and other insects aren’t as attracted to warm yellow light as they are too bright white beams, so don’t be surprised if a halogen torch attracts more attention, and more bites, than a gentler, glowing light.

Insect repellent is a very good idea for any summer camping trip. Non-DEET products include Avon’s Skin So Soft and citronella candles, but if you want serious protection against insect bites in the evenings, you’ll need to invest in a repellent hat has a high DEET percentage. Mosquito nets are definitely your friend while you’re sleeping, and a good supply of aloe vera will help when somebody invariably gets bitten.

Child being protected with insect repellent on hot day in the sunshine

Use insect repellent to banish bugs

3. Make Sure You Have Clean Water

Before you go on a summer camping holiday, make sure you know as much as possible about sources of water. Where are the taps? How much bottled water can you bring? How can you purify your own water? If you’ve got your own campervan, what are its water storage capabilities?

Investing in your own water purification kit is a good move if you’re going somewhere where the supply of fresh, clean water might be unreliable. Cheap water-purification bottles, often using charcoal, are now commonly available on the market; familiarise yourself with them before you head out so you’re not fiddling with instructions while you’re desperate for a drink. Even if you’re just lazing around all day, you’ll want to drink more water in hot weather than you would camping in cooler seasons — and that particularly applies if you’re keen on summer activities, like hiking, swimming or running around with your kids.


4. Protect Your Food

Cooling things in your ice box is easier with one large ice block than with dozens of tiny ice cubes, so contemplate getting a slab and placing all your cold items on top of it. Gel packs packed alongside will help with maintaining cold temperatures, and can also be re-cooled when they warm up. Keep one food carrier specifically for cold food if possible, and pre-chill or freeze everything that’s going in it before the trip, to make sure things stay fresh. Put frozen items at the bottom, to help maintain temperature.

Mother rummaging through ice box as family sit by tent on picnic blanket

Help keep your food fresh with an ice box

5. Pay Attention To Health

Do you know the signs of sunstroke? Dizziness, muscle cramps, lack of sweating and rapid breathing are all potential symptoms. Whether you’ve been dancing around at a festival all day or stretching your legs in a balmy national park, sunstroke is a genuine issue after excess sun exposure, even if you’re convinced it’s ‘not that hot’.

Medical ice packs should come along in your cool bag to help cool body temperature rapidly in anybody who’s overheated. Remember that pets can get sunstroke too, and suffer extremely badly in heat without proper water or shade. Always pack a portable water bowl for them, keep it topped up, give them a chance to rest in the shade as much as possible, and never leave them unattended in the heat or in hot vehicles.

6. Check the regulations around cooking

Summer means that brush and grass on campsites will be drier, raising the risk of fire accidents if you don’t take care. Many campsites will specify what cooking equipment you can use on your pitch – sometimes barbecues aren’t permitted due to the risks involved, and if that's the case it may be worth brushing up on some one-pot wonder recipes. If they are, be sensible about using them – whether they’re gas or charcoal - and keep fuels well hidden away from any open flames.

With these tips, summer camping trips can be fuss-free and you can bask in the sun (or fan yourself in the shade with an iced tea) like the camping pro you are.

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