It’s that time of year: The weather has become more pleasant, plants are in full bloom and the snow is — finally — gone. For some of us, that means it’s time to get outdoors for some camping.

Whether you’re an old pro heading out for the first time this year or are new to camping altogether, there are some basic camping mistakes you should avoid. Check them out below.

Bringing too much stuff

It’s a common mistake: You can’t narrow down what you truly need, so you overpack. Remember that everything you pack into your car or trailer has to be repacked to come home if it’s not used. Instead, plan out each day and think about what you’ll need; consider creating a camping checklist — this example is from Love The Outdoors.

Remember the essentials: food, toiletries, sleeping necessities, and what you need to keep a fire going. Leave the rest behind.

Not testing your equipment first

You’re excited to go, so you head to the sporting goods store, buy everything you’ll need, and keep it all in its packaging until you arrive at your campsite. Many issues can result from that scenario: not knowing how to pitch your tent, underestimating the weight of the trailer, not being able to get a fire started, or realizing the sleeping bags have defects. Try out everything before you go.

camping tent
Image courtesy of Karunakar Rayker

Choosing the wrong campsite

Your campsite can make or break your camping experience. To choose the right campsite, try to find a location that has adequate shade, is away from the dumpsite but close to the restrooms, is on higher ground, is dry, and has a location that is easy to find and remember.

Leaving food outdoors

On a standard vacation, it’s not a big deal to leave food out on the table or the deck. When camping, food that’s left unattended could attract unwanted visitors in the form of hungry animals. Raccoons, bears, and birds are known to pester campers that don’t hide their food.

The best way to keep animals from bothering your food supply is to keep it locked in your car (if you parked nearby) or in a sealed, animal-proof container.

Not understanding fire safety

When fires are too close to campsites,  too big, near dry foliage, or not extinguished properly, all sorts of problems can arise. To avoid any unwanted accidents or serious fire damage, take the time to familiarize yourself with fire safety for campers before your adventure begins.

Starting out at the wrong time

You work a standard workweek, so it might be tempting to work a full day on Friday before heading a few hours away for your camping trip. This may be a mistake: When campsites are set up at night, many frustrations may arise and mistakes can be made. Instead, plan to arrive during daylight hours.

Camping can be an adventure for the solo camper or the whole family. Take the necessary precautions before trekking into the woods, and you’ll minimize the risk of making silly — or unsafe — mistakes.

Image by BucketListly

By Kayla Matthews

Kayla Matthews is a writer and blogger with a passion for wellness and eco-friendly living. She has contributed to Earth911, Mother Earth News, The Huffington Post as well as other healthy and green living publications. Follow her on Google+ and Twitter to read all of her latest posts.