10 Sure Fire Ways to Ruin the Camping Trip

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When planning a fun camping trip for the family, you might expect to deal with potential challenges. The site might not be very level; it might rain, or there might be too many bugs for your liking (here’s something to help with that last one).

Those types of things you can manage and come with the territory. But other things can happen that will ruin the camping trip you have planned.

Let’s look at these ten ways your dream weekend can turn into a nightmare!

What Can Ruin a Camping Trip?

Many things can happen when camping. Some you can control, while others you can’t. However, being prepared for different scenarios is part of the process.

Ensure you have the appropriate equipment to get your rig level upon arrival. Not having the right equipment can ruin your trip before it begins.

Other things like a bee sting or bug bites can ruin camping trips. Bring first aid kits and bug spray. Not knowing campground policies can also cause some grief.

Know the quiet hours, whether or not you can bring your pet, and the rules for hanging hammocks in trees. Camping etiquette is part of the experience, and your trip can become problematic if you choose to ignore or not read the rules.

You can’t do much about the weather. But it is crucial to know the forecast so you can plan accordingly. If it’ll rain, pack indoor games and movies. Plan your meals so no one has to grill hamburgers in a thunderstorm.

If you’ll have high temperatures, pack sunscreen, head coverings, and bug repellant. Even though you can’t control the weather, it can ruin your camping trip if you don’t plan and know the forecast.

A boy looking at his burnt marshmallow on a stick that he cooked in the campfire next to him

Sure Fire Ways to Ruin the Camping Trip

As you can see, planning ahead is a big part of camping. If you consider things that could happen, you can have a better experience and tackle whatever comes your way.

However, below are ten sure-fire ways your family may never want to go camping again!

1. Not Testing New Gear Before Your Trip 

The Problem: If you’re taking gear out of the plastic and cutting the tags upon arrival, you might be in for a weekend of disappointment.

That camping chair may not be as comfortable as you thought, or that sewer hose may have a crack. These aren’t life-threatening issues, but these inconveniences could ruin the whole trip.

Ways to Cope: Have a backup plan if you happen to pick up a new item and don’t have time to test it out before camping. For example, if it’s a new camping chair, pack another one just in case you don’t like the new one or it comes broken.

If it’s a kitchen gadget, have another quick meal idea ready if it’s damaged or you can’t figure out how to operate it.

2. Getting Lost on the Way There

The Problem: If you plan on arriving at a campground at 3 p.m. and don’t get there until 6 p.m., you may have some grumpy campers. Your family will likely feel hungry, exhausted, and upset that there isn’t much daylight left to enjoy the campground.

Getting lost will ruin the camping trip before you even roast the first marshmallow. If you don’t use reliable resources, especially RV-friendly apps, you may set yourself up for this experience. Knowing your route ahead of time is a big part of planning a camping trip.

Ways to Cope: Having a positive attitude will make a huge difference. But if you realize you won’t make it on time, call the campground to let the ranger know. You can ask for detailed directions on how to get to your site if the manager is gone before you arrive.

Have a passenger find a nearby restaurant where someone can quickly run out and grab dinner if needed. This will make setting up less stressful when you don’t have to think about getting dinner prepared.

Keep in Mind: Having a good RV GPS is a great way to prevent getting lost. RV LIFE Pro helps us plan our trips and their GPS app makes sure we get there safely!

One of the easy ways to have your camping trip ruined is getting lost in the woods.

3. Getting Injured 

The Problem: If you go hiking and twist your ankle, it may not seem like much at the time. But you can’t just stop. You have to get back to the trailhead somehow. As you hobble along, the pain may be manageable.

But when you get back to the campground, that pain has probably intensified. So whatever plans you had for that evening or the next day probably just flew out the window.

Even a minor injury like a sprained ankle can completely ruin a camping trip.

Ways to Cope: Having a positive attitude will significantly affect the rest of your experience and your family’s experience after an injury. Think about how you can still have fun and make memories during your camping trip.

Play card games on the picnic table or roast marshmallows by the campfire. Find things to do to make the best of it. And always have an emergency plan if someone gets seriously hurt!

4. Unexpected Bad Weather

The Problem: Unexpected bad weather happens all the time. That’s why you need to plan for various scenarios. But sometimes, bad weather pops up out of nowhere, leaving you running to take cover, especially in the spring and summer.

You’ll find yourself in trouble if you don’t know what to do during severe weather like intense winds and tornado warnings. 

Your awning can get ripped off, thus costing you time and money. These types of situations can ruin a camping trip. They’re out of your control, but you can make emergency preparedness plans.

Ways to Cope: If unexpected weather creeps up, stay calm. Ask your neighbors or campground staff about a storm shelter if the weather is severe.

Always pull in your awning. Hunker down at the lodge or activity center where you can do indoor games. And if camping in a tent, have tarps, rain-flys, and shovels to divert water if needed.

Pro Tip: If you’re worried about natural disasters on the road, you have to read How To Create The Best RV Emergency Kit To Handle Any Disastrous Situation!

Rain is one of the many ways this persons camping trip is ruined.

5. Damaging Your Rig 

The Problem: If that awning gets ripped off in a storm, it can ruin your mood and your whole trip. If you back into the power pedestal getting into your site, you can say goodbye to a stress-free weekend.

If you don’t notice the location of your slide to a nearby tree and push it out without paying attention, you have a serious problem.

Damaging your rig sometimes means ending the trip. At the very least, it puts you in a bad mood for the rest of the weekend.

Ways to Cope: Assess the situation and decide if you need repairs immediately or if you can manage without them for now.

You can still have a great weekend if the awning gets torn or the bumper is scratched. You can even get by if you dented the back of your rig as long as no water can get inside.

Don’t let this ruin your camping trip. Enjoy your trip, and then deal with the repairs when you can. If it’s something you need to be fixed ASAP, you can always look into calling a mobile RV tech so you don’t have to pack up and leave.

6. Arriving at a Full Campground or Boondocking Spot

The Problem: You can’t just show up at a campground anymore and expect to have an available site. They fill up with reservations months ahead of time.

Boondocking spots are tricky because you can’t reserve most of them. So when you pull up to this picturesque site on BLM land and find another camper already set up there, you better have a plan B. 

To enjoy a camping trip, you have to have a spot to settle. If someone has taken all the sites, your stress level might have just shot through the roof. Nothing ruins a camping trip more than not finding a place to camp.

Ways to Cope: It can be difficult to deal with this problem if you don’t have a backup plan. Know the area and other campgrounds or boondocking spots nearby. Start making phone calls and pulling up maps to find rest stops or Walmarts.

Even if they aren’t your number one choice, you can find other possibilities. You can ask other campers how long they plan to stay. Perhaps they’ll leave in the morning, and you can snag their spot.

Keep in Mind: If you plan to snag a coveted first come first serve site, be sure to read our First Come First Serve Camping Tips To Always Get A Spot!

Tents closely together at a packed campground site, a foolproof way to ruin a camping trip.

7. Unwelcome Wildlife Encounters

The Problem: Unlike the weather, this is something you have some control over. Don’t leave out your food, have scented candles on your picnic table, or leave an air freshener in your vehicle. This just invites bears, raccoons, and other wildlife to visit your campsite. 

Waking up to trash strewn all over your site or claw marks on the side of your vehicle can quickly ruin your trip. Sometimes unwelcome wildlife encounters are just part of the experience, like hiking along a trail or kayaking down a river.

But if you don’t do your part to keep wild animals away from your campsite, you’re just asking for a disastrous weekend.

Ways to Cope: Always remain calm whether you hear a bear rummaging around outside your camper or if you see a snake on a hike. Always have a secure, bear-proof container for your food.

Additionally, you’ll need to respond differently depending on the situation and what animal it is. Don’t go outside and try to scare away a bear. Stay inside and wait it out.

Back away slowly from a snake or other wildlife that you encounter outdoors.

A child watching a deer close to his campsite. Wildlife interacting with your campsite can be one of the ways a camping trip is ruined.

8. A Tire Blowout 

The Problem: Nothing will ruin a travel day more than having a tire blowout. This can be dangerous for you and other drivers. Plus, who wants to change an RV tire on the side of the interstate?

At the very least, you’ll have to pay for some repair work, but you can continue on your camping trip. You could get in an accident, get injured, or total your rig at the worst. 

Ways to Cope: You may save the weekend if you handle a tire blowout with a positive attitude. Sometimes you don’t have to deal with an immediate repair. Y

ou can just change the tire with the spare and continue to your destination. However, you might have to call a tow truck and receive roadside assistance. But your attitude will go a long way.

9. Booking a Bad Site

The Problem: When you arrive at your campsite to find that it’s next to the dumpsters or beside a swimming pool full of squealing children can really put a damper on your experience.

Or, if your site is only 35 ft long and you have a 45 ft fifth wheel, you have to deal with the headache of finding another one. You likely won’t find another spot in a full campground. So before you even set out the camping chairs, your trip is ruined.

Ways to Cope: Ask the campground if they have another site. Own up to your mistake and don’t put any blame on the staff. Perhaps you can get a new one.

Use a noise machine to help drown out loud neighbors or rowdy kids. You can find another campground or boondocking spot for the night. Sometimes you just have to make do in a bad situation.

10. Packing the Wrong Type of Clothes

The Problem: Whenever you pack for your trip, pay attention to the weather. It’s not just so you can plan meals and have indoor activities for the kids, but you’ll need the appropriate clothing.

Nights in deserts can get really cold, and you might not expect different temperatures at higher elevations.

If all you pack are t-shirts and shorts, you won’t enjoy the cold nights by the campfire. Plan for changing seasons and altitudes if you take an extended trip across the country over several months.

You may have to stop at Walmart to buy clothes. Not having appropriate gear will ruin a camping trip.

Ways to Cope: More often than not, you can find a store nearby to make a quick trip to buy clothes. You may not want to spend your time or money shopping, but it’s essential to protect yourself from the elements when camping.

Pack a sweatshirt and rain jacket even if you don’t think you’ll use them!

The Right Attitude Can Save the Camping Trip  

Even if you experience some of these things listed above, all is not lost. Maybe you do have a tire blowout and have to deal with delaying your arrival for two hours.

But how you handle the situation could make or break your camping trip. Maybe you twist your ankle on a hike, but how you respond, especially when traveling with others, will determine if you can salvage the weekend.

Keep a positive attitude when things go wrong. And things will go wrong. Do your best to plan and prepare to avoid some of these costly, stressful, and disastrous events. But your attitude and response may have an even greater impact on the situation.

Have you ever had an experience that ruined a camping trip?

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  1. Got totally buried…halfway up tires…in that powder type sand…out on BLM…in my heavy skoolie….if Not for kindness of strangers…I could have easily died

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