Camping Tips
Be Smart and Keep it Simple!

These camping tips are a compilation of my experiences camping. We seem to get smarter each time we camp. There are things we should have brought or should have forgot to bring:) We like to travel light since we tent camp and drive to the Smokies on our trips. You might do things differently, but regardless, these camping tips should help you out the next time you camp.

Remember there's really no "right" way to camp, but there are lots of options. That's my goal, to show you what I've learned and let you know some of your options. That'll get you thinking on what's best for you. My two most important camping tips are to be flexible and prepared. You never know what might happen, but remember not to stress, because you're camping to relax and enjoy the beautiful Smokies!

Camping Tips on Sleeping
-When you're buying a tent, it's not just about how many people are camping, but also think about what all you want to do in the tent or might need to do. The first tent I bought is a simple dome tent that has served us well over the years. However, as we've gotten smarter, we've realized one with a little more room is better. Besides being able to house extra people with a bigger tent, you have room for those air mattresses I'll talk about next.

-The ground isn't the softest thing to sleep on. Thankfully, there is a wonderful invention called the air mattress. We've tried down comforters too and there's also mats you could use, but our top choice is an air mattress. When you've been hiking all day, there's nothing like sleeping on air. Remember that there is no electricity at the campgrounds in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Don't worry though. You can buy an air pump that charges using your car battery. Or you could make friends with the camp host and ask to use his electric outlet:)

-It's a good idea to put a tarp on the ground as your base before setting up your tent. This helps with moisture and keeping your tent clean.

-There are so many options with sleeping bags. Camping in the spring, like we usually do, we've been able to get by with laying on top of the sleeping bag and using sheets and blankets for warmth. When we camped in the fall for the first time, we realized we needed to invest in some well-insulated sleeping bags. The weather was in the 30s at night that October! Now we have sleeping bags that are meant for 20 below weather. Since it can get pretty cold at night in the Smokies, I recommend investing in a sleeping bag that will keep you warm and cozy. You'll be glad you did when it's 30 degrees and you're snug inside your bag.

Camping Tips on Cooking
-Since we don't care for the hassle of firewood, we use a propane stove to cook our food. Before we got the propane stove we used sterno candles. All you do is light them and they'll heat your food right up, but not as quick as the propane stove.

What to Pack (Here's what our list looks like):
-flashlight/lantern (or headlamp to keep your hands free)
-bucket or tub for washing dishes along with soap and dishcloth (we also bring a spray bottle of alcohol to disinfect our dishes)
-water bucket or bottle for hauling water (water is not available right at your site in the park)
-clothesline/rope for hanging laundry (there are no laundry facilities in the park)
-first aid kit (you never know what might happen)
-sandals (for trips to the bathroom when you don't feel like putting your shoes on:)
-canopy/gazebo for shelter over your picnic table (you'll be thankful when the bugs come out:)
-chairs (those picnic table seats aren't the most comfortable)
-books/playing cards
-sleeping bag along with sheets and pillows
-air mattress along with pump and battery adapter
-cookware and utensils (don't forget the can opener!)
-food (we usually stick with canned goods and dried foods so we don't have to shop during the trip)
-sleeping clothes
-trash bags (grocery bags will work fine)

Extras to Bring (If You Have the Room!) and Upgrades:
-mat to put outside your tent door so you don't track dirt in your tent
-tablecloth for your picnic table

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