There are few summer activities quite as exciting as camping. Packing up your car, hitting the open road, and spending a few days in the great outdoors is a quintessential American vacation. While it may be more rugged than spending a week at a hotel or resort, camping doesn’t have to be complicated. Use these tips to simplify your adventure, and don’t forget to download the handy packing list so you’ll have everything you need during your trip.
Preparation is key when you’re planning your family’s camping excursion, and that starts with packing all the essentials as you might not have easy access to. An excellent way to stay organized is to store your gear in clear plastic bins and label your containers. This will keep your supplies protected from wildlife and the elements and easily let you know what is in each bin. You should also pack your car the day before you leave so you don’t have to rush. This extra packing time will allow you to adjust how items fit in your vehicle while limiting family members from adding last-minute items.
Remember to pack smart! Use these suggestions to make sure you have everything you need for your camping experience:
- Roll your clothes instead of folding them to save space and easily separate outfits.
- Line your backpack or travel bag with a trash bag for an added layer of moisture protection for your clothing.
- Keep an extra set of clothes in your car for each member of your family in case of an emergency.
- Charge all batteries and electronics before leaving home, and pack extra batteries and a charger.
- Pack an emergency boredom box for kids filled with games, books, and crafts in case of a rainy day.
From s’mores to hotdogs, cooking meals over a crackling fire is one of the best parts of the camping experience. Plan the meals you’ll make before leaving home so you can prep for easy cooking, save space, and limit yourself to only the essential cookware.
- Slice vegetables, and store them in containers or sandwich bags.
- Crack eggs, and store yolks in squeezable containers.
- Prepare pancake mix, and keep it in squeezable containers.
- Precook some meals, and reheat over your fire.
When you’re packing your cooler, replace ice with frozen water jugs. This way, you’ll have cold, refreshing water to drink as the jugs begin to melt. Also, try to use the most perishable foods at the beginning of your trip so they don’t spoil before you can eat them. Don’t forget to pack a mess kit for each camper with their own reusable eating utensils, plates, and cups.
Your campsite is a blank canvas, so be sure to arrange it in a way that will help your vacation run smoothly. When choosing where to set up camp, avoid tree roots, and clear the ground that will be directly under your tent—this will help you avoid tripping over roots or damaging your tent. You should also pick a spot with plenty of tree cover to protect you from the sun and elements. If you’re making the trip with young campers, have a list of chores they can work on while you’re setting up your campsite. Tasks such as putting together simple furniture or collecting firewood will make them feel involved and keep them busy (and out of your hair).
Be sure to set up your campfire fifteen feet away from tents, shrubs, trees, logs, or other flammable objects. Choose a spot with dry, bare dirt, or clear a ten-foot radius of leaves and brush. Don’t forget to look for low-hanging branches.
Use these helpful hacks to make your campsite your home away from home:
- Place toilet paper in an old coffee canister to keep it dry.
- Stuff the bag your sleeping bag goes in with clothing, and use it as an extra pillow.
- Attach a headlamp to a jug of water for a DIY lantern.
- Crumple newspaper, and place it inside your shoes to help absorb moisture.
Never assume pitching your tent will be easy. Practice assembling your tent in your backyard beforehand to ensure everything is in working order and familiarize yourself with the process. You never know what you might encounter. Setbacks such as traffic snafus, unexpected rain, or simply arriving late can make putting your tent up a stressful experience. Bring a doormat so you can avoid tracking mud or dirt into your tent.
With just a little prep work, the most challenging part of your family’s camping trip will be deciding what songs to sing around the campfire.