My husband has said, on more than one occasion, that I’m a nightmare when I’m packing for a camping trip.
It’s not that I don’t want to go, it just that camping by definition is away from cities. It’s rural and probably pretty far from the closest walmart.
So the prospect of forgetting something important freaks me out.
That’s why I use these simple and quick camping packing tips to simplify, reduce my stress, and never forget anything important:
Always Shop & Prep Beforehand With A Meal Plan
Camping is supposed to be laid-back and low-key, but if you run out of food, it will be anything but.
Always, always arm yourself with a shopping list and meal plan (like one of these) so you not only have enough food, you have a plan to keep it cold, cook it, and keep everyone happy. Also, it’s a good idea to splurge on a few sweets and treats that you wouldn’t normally buy just to make the trip extra special.
Hate meal planning? Never fear, I’ve got you covered with free meal plans from 3 to 6 days. They come complete with a shopping list, recipes, the meal plan, and even a prep checklist so you can prepare and freeze as much of the food as possible while still at home – saving time and stress when you’re supposed to be relaxing in nature.
Freeze As Much Food As You Can
Coolers are great, but when you camp for 4 or more days they don’t necessarily do their job as well as one could hope.
That’s why it’s so important that you freeze as much of the food you’re bought and prepped from your meal plan as possible. Freezing it keeps it cold longer, extending not only the length of time your ice jugs last (see next tip) but also your food.
Salmonella isn’t fun, ya’ll.
Easiest Ice Jugs Ever
The best ice pack I’ve found for coolers are made out of empty milk jugs.
Save a few from the weeks beforehand, rinse them out, and then freeze them solid. That much ice takes quite a long time to melt, and when coupled with frozen foods, those will set you up for quite a long camping trip.
No to mention they’re cheap, which is awesome!
Scope Out The Campsite
Before you go – especially if you’re heading to a new destination – scope out the campsite as much as is possible before starting to pack.
Check for these sorts of things:
- Are they sites made from gravel, concrete, or just dirt and grass?
- Do the fire pits (if they have them) have grilling grates?
- What is the picnic table situation?
- Electric and water hookups?
- How far are the bathrooms?
- Read all the rules – you never know what different rules each site has
- What time is check-in and check-out?
- Are pets allowed?
- What other sorts of amenities does the place offer? Kids activities, hikes, swimming, a camp store?
These things may seem small, but when you are out in the middle of nowhere, it is better to be prepared than not….
Keep A Packing List Handy
You should have a go-to packing list.
We use a tote system: one for bedding, one for cooking/non-perishables, one for clothing, and another for misc. You don’t have to use this system, but I do encourage you to find one that works for you and stick with it.
The consistency will not only make packing go faster and smoother each time you go, using this consistent process will reduce your stress about packing.
Prepare For Emergencies
Emergencies WILL happen, and inevitably they will happen at the worst possible time, when we’re the least prepared.
It’s Murphy’s Law or something…
Which is why your emergency/first aid kit should never leave your RV or camping tote if you can help it.
It’s not something you’ll have to use very often, but when you need it, you’ll NEED IT. Make it simple so you don’t forget, and leave it with the camping stuff as much as possible.
Plan for Fun
You may not purchase Little Debbie Oatmeal Pies at home, but when you’re camping?
Heck yes you should.
Camping should be fun, and while you’re shouldn’t go crazy with the junk food there is nothing wrong with splurging a little bit, especially if it’s going to add to the fun.
But more than food, try and plan something new and fun each time you go camping. Whether it’s a squirt gun, glow sticks, a nature scavenger hunt or something else of your own creation, plan on having a ton of fun, even if you have to coax the fun out of everyone a little bit.
Check The Weather…..Several Times
Changing and dangerous weather isn’t fun when you’re at home, so it makes sense that weather can be a huge factor when you go camping.
Although we like to unplug as much as possible, having access to some sort of weather warning radio is a safety issue, as is checking the weather frequently before we go. I pack for literally every weather scenario so that we can enjoy our trip, not freeze/drown/sweat to death.
Taking Pets? Don’t Stress….
Taking pets camping is actually way less of a big deal than it seems on the surface.
Don’t forget to pack water and food bowls, food, a couple of treats/bones to keep them occupied and a ball or frisbee so that you can take advantage of the space the run at the campsite.
Really the only concerns when taking pets camping is that you are courteous to other campers. Keep your pets on a leash and don’t let them bark incessantly and you’ll be just fine.
Think About Comfort
The one things that can take a camping trip from drab to fab are the sleeping arrangements.
I’m going to let you in on a little secret: when we go camping we sleep on a memory foam mattress, in air conditioning, with our pillows from out. It’s almost luxurious, and it makes all the time outdoors and in the weather that much more fun.
I freely admit that I’m more of a glamper than a hardcore camper, so having a nice bed is my necessity.
Yours may be very different: just think about the one thing you can’t live without and find a way to make it happen. That one creature comfort will make the whole experience that much better.
Add In Some Fun Extras
Each camping trip, I try to find a couple of new, cool things.
Whether it’s a new float for my kiddo to take on the river, beach toys, a bubble gun, or something else fun and frivolous, I’ve found that a couple of small and inexpensive things can make all the difference.
Everyone’s camping style is different, so take these tips with a grain of salt.
As I always say, steal what works for your and forget the rest!
What is your best camping tip? Share it in the comments!
Til Next Time,
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