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    Here's How To Camp Like A Pro (Even If You've Never Slept Outside Before)

    You have to start somewhere.

    A First-Timer's Guide to Camping

    The coronavirus pandemic is still impacting travel, and destinations around the world have different COVID-19 restrictions in place. It’s important to check and adhere to local government policies as you're planning any trips.

    If you're desperate for some fresh air and elbow room, it doesn't get much better than camping. There's nothing like stepping away from your routine, putting your phone on airplane mode, and sleeping in the open air to reset your perspective after a long week (or year). And it's super easy — once you know the basics.

    a woman standing on a hiking trail in the mountains, wearing a backpack with camping gear, smiling at the camera
    Where To Go

    To slow the spread of the coronavirus, right now it's best to stay close to home and avoid traveling long distances. Be sure to check what parks or forests your state has to offer, and read up on these tips to minimize risk while camping during the pandemic.

    If it's your first time camping, I recommend heading to a campground.

    a tent in a marked camp site in Goblin Valley State Park, with white and red layers of sandstone rock formations in the background

    If you want to avoid people (and avoid spending money on a campsite), consider dispersed camping.

    a remote tent on a flat mountain top with the sunset in the background

    Or, to really get out there and clock up some serious steps, try backpacking.

    three people with big backpacks and hiking sticks walking along a national park trail

    And remember, no matter where you decide to camp, you should follow the seven principles of “leave no trace.”

    How To Pick A Campsite

    Look for a spot that has room for your tent and camp chairs and is protected from any obvious hazards.

    a two tents and camping chairs on a grassy patch of ground surrounded by trees

    Before you set up your tent, make sure the area is flat, free of rocks and debris, and at least 10 feet from the campfire.

    A small campfire roars in a remote campsite in Georgia's Okefenokee Swamp

    If you’re booking a site in a campground, you’ll want to choose a spot that’s a bit more isolated.

    campsite with orange tent and campfire set among pines in the northern Minnesota wilderness

    For dispersed camping or backpacking, the key is finding a spot near a water source.

    a couple filling up their water bottles from a flowing stream surrounded by rocky terrain
    What To Pack

    When it comes to packing clothes, prepare for the elements. And remember: Layers are your friend.

    woman wearing a big backpack walking across rocky mountain terrain

    Bring a tent (obviously!) and all the extras you need to stay warm and dry overnight.

    a view from inside a tent, with sleeping bags and clothes on the ground, looking out into the woods

    Bring a headlamp or lantern or both.

    illuminated tent under starry night sky

    Pack plenty of water and the supplies you need to get more.

    man sitting by a stream filling up his camel back bladder with water

    Be prepared for whatever comes your way with a small first aid kit.

    red first aid kit case on wooden bench

    Pack the tools you'll need to cook and eat a meal.

    bird's eye view of a person sitting outside on the ground preparing to cook dinner on a small camping stove

    Also bring everything you'll need to keep your campsite — and yourself — clean.

    Cleaning a cooking pan and spatula on the camp stove

    And if you’ve got space, consider some luxe extras.

    a dog sitting in a hammock in the woods
    What To Cook

    For breakfast, oatmeal is hard to beat.

    pot of porridge cooking on a gas burner surrounded by nature

    Plan a lunch that’s easy to take on the go.

    tomato focaccia in a paper bag next to a metal drink bottle, sitting on a wooden bench outdoors

    For dinner, you can go super simple or super extravagant — depending on how you decided to camp.

    two women sitting on the grass eating packaged mac and cheese off plastic plates, smiling and taking a selfie
    Camping Etiquette

    Be aware of any fire restrictions, and learn how to build a campfire correctly.

    woman sitting by a metal campfire, with papers and firewood, getting ready to start a fire.

    Then make sure you know how to put it out properly.

    roaring campfire surrounded by rocks and camping gear

    Have a bathroom plan when nature calls, and research how to leave no trace.

    group of people sitting by a lake with a stunning snow-capped mountain in the background

    Don’t let the critters eat your dinner.

    woman on a rugged path pointing towards a small bear bag hanging in the trees

    Happy camping!

    Do you have another camping tip? Share it in the comments!

    Don't forget to check out Bring Me! for all of BuzzFeed's best travel tips and hacks, vacation inspiration, and more!

    illustrated city skyline