It’s that time of year again, sum­mer is here. Whether you’re the ulti­mate back­pack­er or your every­day car camper, here are sev­er­al uni­ver­sal tips for sum­mer camping.

summer camping site

Make Your Camp­site Reser­va­tions in Advance

While the idea of being the spon­ta­neous camper who decides where to go every week­end might sound ide­al, that’s not the real­i­ty of today’s camp cul­ture. We’re not say­ing you should­n’t try to go camp­ing even if it’s last minute, you might even get a site, but if you want to ensure a camp­site in a pop­u­lar des­ti­na­tion dur­ing a pop­u­lar sum­mer week­end you’d be sil­ly not to try and book in advance.

Many pop­u­lar camp­sites have reser­va­tion sys­tems and we aren’t just talk­ing about the one camp­ground in the clos­est state park to your large metrop­o­lis, even remote back­pack­ing sites in the far cor­ners of our Nation­al Parks require reser­va­tions or per­mits. Many reser­va­tion sites fill up five to six months before, so make sure you do your plan­ning in advance.

The last thing you want is to get to Joshua Tree, on a Thurs­day night dur­ing the peak sea­son, to find out that a motel might be your best option.

Get Your Vehi­cle Tuned Up

Noth­ing can put a damper on the excite­ment of a camp­ing trip like found­ing out about car trou­ble. Yes, chances are you’ll be able to make the best of it by get­ting a rental or using a friends ride, but learn­ing about an unex­pect­ed or expen­sive repair might derail your mood for the entire trip. To avoid this from hap­pen­ing, a week or two before your camp­ing trip, be sure to have your vehi­cle looked at by your trusty mechan­ic. The peace of mind you’ll have in exchange is def­i­nite­ly worth it.

Get Your Gear Together

We’ve all been there, maybe you were out late with friends or just plain pro­cras­ti­nat­ing. But the morn­ing to hit the road has final­ly come and you have yet to even start pack­ing your camp­ing gear. Don’t wait until the last minute to get all your gear togeth­er, nobody likes unrolling their tent at the camp­site only to remem­ber that you for­got to air it out at the end of last sum­mer and now it smells like the dark­est cor­ner of your gym bag.

We rec­om­mend get­ting a des­ig­nat­ed camp­ing bin, or three. They’re a great way to keep all your camp­ing stuff togeth­er. Even if you are tout­ing around a whole apart­ments worth of stuff for your glamp­ing trip, it still stands. There’s no bet­ter way to ensure you won’t for­get some­thing than by hav­ing it all in the same place. You don’t need to wor­ry about it being fan­cy, shoot for func­tion instead.

And let’s not for­get about the won­der­ful mem­o­ries and flash­backs we have when we’re prepar­ing for anoth­er camp­ing trip. Pulling all your gear out of the clos­et and run­ning through a check­list will not only help you to make sure you have every­thing you need, but it’ll also remind you of all the great mem­o­ries you’ve already made with that handy gear.

Brush Up on The “Leave No Trace” Principles

We all know the drill, leave no trace. This rule does­n’t just mean that you clean up your trash after you’ve camped some­where. In order to fol­low this real­ly know what “Leave No Trace” means you should famil­iar­ize your­self with the sev­en prin­ci­ples of the rule:

  1. Plan ahead and prepare.
  2. Trav­el and camp on durable surfaces.
  3. Dis­pose of waste properly.
  4. Leave what you find
  5. Min­i­mize camp­fire impacts.
  6. Respect wildlife.
  7. Be con­sid­er­ate of oth­er visitors.

These prin­ci­ples might as well be the com­mand­ments of camp­ing, so famil­iar­ize your­self with them. The biggest way to ensure that our nat­ur­al won­ders will be around for gen­er­a­tions to come is if we all take part in main­tain­ing them.