Beginner’s Guide to Camping – the Only 52 Items You Actually Need

camping guide for beginners

Escaping the Rat Race For the Weekend

Working 9-5 can be exhausting. Getting your lunch ready, getting kids prepped and ready for school, cleaning, cooking dinner, washing, an hour or 2 watching the telly and back to it the next day.

Arguably, this isn’t a natural way to live. And what we mean by natural, is that our minds and bodies were not designed to live 39 hours a week at a desk staring at the screen.

We adapted, like other animals, to our society, our environment and the routines set by our government. We are now used to it and we have accepted it as our normality.

Escaping the rat race natural living

The Rat Race Looks Different From Up Here…

This of course looks different based on where you live and what your government looks like. Helsinki Finland for example, were last year voted as the city with the best work-life balance.

The commute to work is on average 26 minutes and parental leave is one of the longest compared to other countries, with 1,127 days…

Oh, and the minimum for annual leave is 30 days.

Pretty neat huh?

Their working hours are very flexible, allowing employees to start and finish up to 3 hours earlier. So your work fits around your life, and not the other way around…

Isn’t that how it should be?

Yes we should be grateful for having jobs and ability to buy food, pay off our bills and to have a roof over our head. Particularly during these uncertain times.

But the big question for your busy lifestyle – how do you escape that rat race?

More importantly, how to escape it for a weekend and on a low budget? You’re in the right place my friend.

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Escaping the Rat Race

We all dream of weekend city breaks in Barcelona, Paris, Milan or Budapest… Most of us can’t afford to however and must make do with what we have.

Which isn’t always a bad thing!

Escaping the rat race and the constant chasing around can seem impossible on a city break – you still end up running around to the airport, around the city’s main tourist attractions and venturing from bar to bar to make the most out of your trip.

So how about something more chilled?

Something simple, disconnected from the real world… How about… Camping?

Escaping the rat race to live naturally camping

Yes yes, we love a good camping trip. Britain doesn’t always provide the weather for it, but it’s still embraced as a way to just get away from it all.

Never been? No worries.

We went recently and we know exactly what you need to take for every weather and eventuality. Naturally we forgot a few things, which is why we now know what to remember to take and made a list of ALL things you CANNOT go without.

The main 4 areas where you will need gear in, are:

  • Food

  • Cooking

  • Home away from home incl. sleeping

  • Clothing

That’s pretty much it. Cleaning not essential as you’re going all dirty for the weekend right? Just kidding. You should probably take your toothbrush.


If you are able to, one weekend before your scheduled trip, cook a big batch of stew, curry, soup or anything liquidy – this could be even your Sunday dinner that night. Anything leftover from your dinner, put in a Tupperware box (hopefully one that is plastic-free or eco-friendly) and freeze it.

If you have an isotherm coolbox, stick it in there on the morning before you set off. When we cooked our stew at the campsite, it was still frozen the next day!

Which meant that it was still safe to eat and didn’t go off. Other than that, you take what you like depending on what you eat!

If you’re taking meat and dairy products, you really should be careful about storage because you know, salmonella, it could go off and you don’t want an upset stomach. Just be cautious!

If you are allowed to, depending on campsite rules, take a BBQ!

We took some vegan sausages and burgers with us and they went down a treat with lettuce, cucumbers, peppers and onions.

The Essential Foods List

You should have some of the below or similar items to the ones we listed down here – taking these as a guide only, based on what you like to eat every day:

  • Milk
  • Butter
  • Bread or burger/hot dog buns
  • Burgers/sausages
  • Veg – cucumbers, tomatoes, pepper, onion (they’re easy to chop in the middle of a field!)
  • Cup of soup
  • Rice cakes and hummus (great for dipping)
  • Crisps/nuts
  • Apples/grapes
  • Your cooked stew/curry/casserole
  • Oil
  • Baked beans (of course) / canned curry
  • Salt
  • Ketchup/mustard
  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Red wine (to warm up on those cold nights by the campfire)

The week before our camping trip, we also made a large batch of plant-based dumplings filled with tofu and lentils – they were yummy! Recipe here.

We saved the rest of the dumplings by freezing them, and they were fried on Sunday morning for our breakfast.


Now that you have your food sorted, what are you going to prepare and cook it with?

See if any of your family or friends have a gas stove. If not, try Pre-loved, there are lots of people re-selling them along with other camping equipment!

If you’d like to purchase a new gas stove, Decathlon and Amazon are convenient, but if you’re trying to live more consciously, the pre-owned or borrowed gas stoves option would be your better bet.

As well as a gas stove, as part of your cooking gear you should also pack:

Camping for beginner's guide

  • A kettle
  • 1 saucepan medium-sized
  • 1 frying pan
  • Cutlery (teaspoon, spoon, fork and butter knife)
  • Cutting knife
  • Tin opener
  • Wooden spoon for mixing
  • Spatula or tongs if you’re going to be flippin’ those burgers!
  • Mug (1 per person)
  • Plate (1 per person)
  • Bowl
  • Chopping board
  • Bottle opener/corkscrew

There is lots and lots of camping gear people are selling off on Preloved and it’s a great option if you’re trying to cut down on waste and are on a budget! You can get a good ole’ bargain…

Home Away From Home – Household and Sleeping Gear

Quite an important part of your camping trip, as you’ll be spending your nights in the tent or rainy days. Unless you have a camper van, in which case you’re super lucky and pretty much all set.

A tent would be a good start.

Tents are made from plastic, unfortunately. Thousands of tents are left at festivals every year causing a lot of problems at landfills. If you can, buy a pre-owned tent that is in a good condition.

Some people sell tents that they have never even used! You can get a real bargain.

If it’s been used, just ask the seller to open up the tent in their back garden – you’re paying for the tent and naturally you’d want to see what it looks like, just like in the shop.

For your home-away-from home for the weekend, you will also need:

  • Sleeping bag
  • Blanket
  • Pillow
  • Mattress or camping bed
  • Wind shelter or a gazebo (wind shelter would be our suggested option as it’s quicker to put up and really does protect from the wind while you still feel the fresh air without the cold)
  • Camping chairs
  • Waterproof blanket/rug
  • Washing up bowl, sponge and washing up liquid
  • Torch
  • Battery-operated light for the tent
  • * Optional: foldable table (makes eating a little easier but we didn’t really miss it and it was quite fun not having a table and using boxes to put our food on haha!)
  • * Optional: ear plugs – if you are a light sleeper and you find yourself on a noisy campsite, you might want to take ear plugs!


This is really weather dependent, but you should always prepare for the worst – especially if you’re camping in the UK and you know, the weather changes so quickly.

Raincoat is a must. Whether it’s scheduled to rain or not – take it. You might not use it but you’ll regret it if you don’t.

With footwear, you really should take some shoes that are easy to slip on (so you can quickly nip out to the toilets first thing in the morning or late at night!).

You should also take some wellies or hiking boots, the latter being the best option as you’ll be able to wear them in any weather really.

THERMALS. They’re a MUST, especially if you get cold easily. I slept in my thermals, fluffy pjs, 2 pairs of socks and a wooly hat. I was so toasty I could have been sleeping in my own bed.

There is nothing worse than being cold and trying to get to sleep in new surroundings. It’s always easier to fall asleep when you’re warm though, wherever you are.

To tick off your list, make sure you take the following:

  • Waterproof footwear (hiking boots/shoes, trainers or wellies)
  • Raincoat
  • Cap
  • Wooly hat
  • Thermals
  • Warm PJs (or a onesie if you like!)
  • Joggers
  • T-shirts
  • Warm socks (plenty of pairs)
  • Boxers/pants (with 1 extra pair for good luck)
  • Hoody
  • Shorts

Other Essentials

You will of course have to pack what you’d normally take away with you – face wash, soap, toilet paper, towel(s), deodorant, dry shampoo maybe, hair brush, toothbrush etc. All the beauty and self-care stuff.

We’re pretty sure you don’t need us telling you that you need to take your toothpaste or hairbrush, that’s just standard packing essentials, you got this ?


If you’re going away in a tent, of course you won’t have access to plugs. Which means you can’t charge your phone. Bummer! Or actually, it’s a nice break from constant phone-checking, or whether your post got any likes.

Camping for beginner's guide

If you need your phone however, a power bank is a great option. Just remember to charge it before you leave!


If you have a hobby or there is something you miss doing because you don’t have the time for it in the week, try and take it with you or make time for it on your trip.

As well as admiring nature, breathing in the fresh morning air and gazing at the starry sky, you will have some time to do what you love (depending on what that is, of course).

Maybe you miss playing badminton? Pack it along.

Is there a book you’ve been meaning to read? Pack it and read it while basking in the sun.

Do you miss writing? Take a journal.

Or maybe you’re an artist and forgot how long it’s been since you held a pencil – TAKE THE WHOLE SET OF PENCILS AND GO AHEAD AND DRAW.

In Our Humble Conclusion

This weekend is for you, your friends/family and quality time away from the television, the news, the traffic jams and routine.

It’s escapism at its best.

If you decided to take your phone, skip your social media apps – give them a nice breather. They’ll still be full of most likely the same posts when you’re back.

If you’re keen to escape, why not share this post along with your friends to tempt them into going ?

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