How To Go Camping For The First Time – A Beginners Guide

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How to go camping for the first time? The Total Camping Ireland beginner’s guide to camping is essential to prepare you for your first outdoor adventure.

This guide may seem a little daunting at first; however, I firmly believe in the 5 Ps (Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance), so the tips and info you’ll see below will make you feel like a pro camper in no time. 

If you want to see general camping tips, click here.

This is not your run-of-the-mill beginner guide to camping – I will focus on what I feel you ought to know to get the most out of your adventure so you don’t get eaten alive (by The Midge) or burn down the forest. Let us discuss how you should prepare for camping, starting with your mindset.

Camping Preparation

Having a great time on your first camping trip is as much about preparing your mind first as packing the kit. With the right mindset, everything will come together when you start camping.

There are millions of review articles on the web for the best gear for a beginner camper that offers camping tips. However, very few talk about the “oh-so-important” frame of mind for camping.

The most important thing you have to know and anticipate about your first camping adventure is that something will most likely not go to plan. It happens to us all (more than we’d like) and should be taken with a grain of salt, but you will probably forget/break/soak/burn something at some point…this list is not exhaustive.

For this reason, your mindset when learning the ins and outs of camping has to be correct. Rather than visualizing the breathtaking scenery of the best campground you have seen in a magazine or the movies, it’s best to have a mindset that camping is not meant to be elegant or stylish (If you want luxury, then check out glamping).

You should be ready to face some less-than-desirable critters; be prepared to be uneasy while sleeping (check out our guide to sleeping better while camping). In short, think of something other than camping like I’m a celebrities Jungle boudoir but more like a back-to-basics.

So, how to go camping for the first time? When planning your first camping adventure, have a dry run in your back garden. If your garden isn’t big enough, find a family member or friend who will lend you theirs. 

Going to the campsite you’ve seen on Instagram miles from your home is the last thing you want to do on your first trip. You will realize that you’re in over your head….and that you’ve forgotten something only after you arrive…..been there, forgot the T-shirt.

A back garden camping expedition will allow you to master some camping basics, like getting used to how your tent is set up or even cautiously starting a fire (try doing it in a fire pit and not your friend’s perfectly cut lawn), without being too far away from the comfort/safety of your own home should something not go as planned.

If/when something goes awry, you’re only a short distance away from comfort (e.g. a toilet that flushes or runs hot water). Camping should be fun! So, remember the 5Ps and prepare yourself for a successful trip.

One of the most important things is having the best mindset as a beginner camper; enjoy it and have fun. Laugh out at your hiccups when something goes wrong. All the best stories are from near disasters. 

Preparation is the key, like with anything.

Beginners Guide to Camping

So as preparation is the key, we will look at the essential equipment needed to keep you safe, dry and warm (ish). First up is the Tent.

Buying the Tent

If you have yet to buy a tent, then stop and think about what you will need from your tent. We recommend you don’t just think about the trip you are planning now but the trips you will take in the future. 

Do you plan on carrying the tent on your back, so need something lightweight? Are you going alone or taking the family? It’s Ireland, 350 days of the year, and the temperature is above freezing, so do you need the Arctic warfare triple-skinned tent?


Pitching your camping tent is only as complicated as you make it. Pitching up your tent is, in the words of Kirtsy and Phil, all about location, location, location—where your tent is pitched will significantly impact your comfort and safety. 

As we’ve said above, practice putting up your tent before you go so you know where everything goes and what the end result looks like. Trust me when I say it’s no fun trying to set up a new tent in the lashing rain while it gets dark….and your kids are complaining about being wet and cold!

I recommend going through the instructions a few times and taking a photo of them so you have a copy. 

Here are some further tips for finding the ideal camping spot

  • Choose Flat Ground
  • Avoid Hills if possible
  • Consider how much sun you’ll get
  • Face the entrance of your tent away from the wind direction
  • Don’t camp too close to the water

Camping Equipment

It makes sense to divide this into sections that cover the most critical areas of cooking, storage and sleeping.

Sleeping Equipment for Camping

Even the warmest summer temperatures can quickly go down overnight; therefore, the key to ensuring that you enjoy your sleep while camping is seeing to it that your sleeping equipment is insulated well as required.

Suppose you need to familiarize yourself with heat loss mechanisms. In that case, there are always many ways to ensure you do not lose heat to your surroundings.

Sleeping Mats

The first and most crucial sleeping equipment you need to consider is the sleeping mat you will be sleeping on. Given a chance, the ground will absorb a lot of heat; thus, ensure to put the right gear between the sleeping mat and you.

Sleeping Bags

Comfort and insulation are some of the most important attributes when shopping for sleeping bags. Get too cold, and you will shiver into scorching the following week and open up a little.

There are numerous forms of insulation, each with its cons and pros, and likewise with outer and inner fabrics. Pick the camping bag that is okay for you.

Extra Sleeping Tips for Beginner Campers

There are several other factors to consider as far as sleeping in a camping tent is concerned. Most people camping for their very first time need to know them.

The number of clothes you bring will undoubtedly depend on tea munt of time you are going to camp. However, carrying little extra clothes is a good idea if you have sufficient space. Waterproof clothes should occupy the largest area of your camping clothing and have “taped seams”.

If unsure, visit a reputable camping clothes retailer and check outskirts/shorts/trousers. Quick-drying and lightweight materials such as nylon are the most appropriate for an active camping adventure for beginner and professional campers. Denim and cotton can feel cold and take too much time to dry. Do you also wonder how to heat a tent without electricity? Please read our article revealing ways to heat a tent without using power.


Now you know some tips on camping for the first time. Remember that camping is more about getting away from the fuss of everyday life and enjoying extraordinary moments out in nature.

It will benefit you very well always to have that in mind. So follow this beginner’s guide to camping very carefully for an unforgettable experience.

About the author - Colin M

I've been camping since Santa brought my first tent when I was a wee boy in Scotland. Since then, I've camped out, stayed in motorhomes and Glamped worldwide. By day I sit in front of a computer, and by day off, Im typically found (lost) in the outdoors.