Plan the Perfect Camping Trip

Thinking about venturing into the great outdoors? Follow this guide and you’ll have what you need for a great first camping trip.

Does sleeping under the stars and roughing it a bit sound sort of fun? All we ask is that you bring an open mind. Camping usually serves up some curveballs but can be so worth the effort.

Make a Basic Plan

Let’s start easy. Choose a site that’s close to home. There are many state- and county-run parks in our region. If you want fewer people camping around you, go during the week. Pick your dates and make a reservation.

Grab the Essentials

Remember, we need three things to survive.

Water: Campgrounds normally provide potable water, but if you decide to go to a dispersed or backcountry site, you may need to carry in enough or bring a water filter.

Food: Stores like REI in Norwood and Benchmark in Blue Ash sell prepackaged camping meals that only require adding water and heating over the fire or grill. Bring along some trail mix, fruit, beef jerky, etc., and you’ll eat just fine.

Shelter: If you don’t own a tent, borrow one for your first trip. Bring a sleeping bag or bedding and a pillow. Unless you want to sleep on the hard ground, you’ll want to bring a sleeping pad, blow-up mattress or cot.

Expect the Unexpected

Don’t forget a flashlight or headlamp, bug spray, whatever you need to cook your food, a cooler, and some sort of chair. Watch the weather. A tarp and some rope make a quick shelter and a rain jacket or poncho will protect you. Bring clothes for colder weather than you might expect and wear close-toed, comfortable shoes.

Pack Your Tools

Fire starters: Particularly if it has just rained. Dryer lint and old newspaper work great. Fritos, as a matter of fact, serve as good fire starters, or you can buy fire starter logs. Don’t forget matches or a lighter.

Pocket knife/multitool: You’d be surprised how many times you’ll reach for it. Practice opening it and always be careful handling a sharp blade.

Lantern: It’s nice to illuminate a part of camp or take it into the tent.

Batteries: For whatever battery-operated things you’re bringing.

Stock Up on Creature Comforts

Spoil yourself a little. Bring a bar of your favorite chocolate or another favorite snack. Pack that book you’ve been reading, a deck of cards, a journal, or sketch book.

Leave a Good Impression

Always follow Leave No Trace principles, which include disposing of all waste properly, leaving what you find, respecting wildlife, and minimizing your campfire impacts. Never leave a fire unattended! Buy and use local firewood. For more information, visit

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