Camping Preparation

I know that this blog is mostly about car repair and how to fix things with your vehicle but this topic is somewhat about driving. Road trips and being in the car is what prompted this post and when we take a road trip it is probably heading to a campsite.

My family really likes camping; it’s usually mixed in with a small (or large) road trip and then beautiful surroundings that follow.  We don’t have a camper or anything so the trip is spent at campsites in a tent.  Days on end sleeping on an air mattress in the wilderness.  I really like the mountains so that is where we usually are.

In order to prepare for these trips, you need to have a couple of things available.  You will need to have a place to sleep; you will need to have food, and some shelter.

First you will need to have shelter.  If you are like my family, you will need a tent since there is no camper available to sleep in.  At this point in time we have two tents, one for our kids and one for us.  Both tents sleep 4, one is a pop up and one is a tried and true pole setup.  Either one works, but the pop up is really easy to deal with for beginners.  The pole tent you get used to, but the pop up is just that much simpler.

Now that your shelter is setup and ready to go, you will need a place to sleep.  Depending on how gung ho you want to be you could sleep on anything from the ground, a cot, or an air mattress.  The ground is pretty hard so I would not recommend that, but if you choose this route, you will probably want a sleeping bag to keep you at least a little comfortable.

A cot may be a good solution to the place to sleep.  They usually fold up to a reasonable size for transport and will keep you up off the ground and probably a little more comfortable. 

Our preferred solution to a place to sleep is an air mattress.  We have 2 Queen Size air mattresses that work pretty well.  The parents have one in their tent and the kids have one that they share as well.  The air mattresses that we purchased came with a battery powered air pump but I would recommend one that can plug into your cigarette lighter in the car.  These work better and will save you time on the setup.

Unless you went the sleeping bag route, you will want to bring a set of sheets for the cot or air mattress.  I like to be covered when I sleep so sheets are a minimum.  You will most likely want to have some kind of warm covering; it gets surprisingly cold when you are outdoors in the middle of the night, especially in the mountains.  So unless you are camping in extremely warm climates, bring more coverings than you think you will need.  We usually bring some inexpensive wool blankets and a comforter.

Food is important to a successful camping trip, you need to have it and unless you are really roughing it you will need a way to cook it.  When we first started camping, we brought a propane powered Coleman grill with us to have a way to cook our food.  We have since moved on to just cooking over the campfire with an iron grate over the top of it.  The food tastes really good this way and it cuts down on the stuff that we need to bring with us.

You will need a cooler to keep the food from going bad on the trip.  Our camping trips are usually in the summer and fall, so during the day the sun will be up and the air will be warm.  A good cooler is essential to keeping your food from spoiling.  If we are camping in a more populated area, we opt to just go grocery shopping and purchase the food same day, if we are out in the wilderness we rely much more on the cooler.  The other important thing to think about is ice, usually campsites will have ice available so that you can keep the food in the cooler cold.

Make sure that you have plenty of water.  Depending on the length of our trip, you may need to get a couple of cases of water, especially if you are planning on doing some activities while on your trip.  We typically bring a case for a long weekend and more if we are staying longer. 

We like camping so much because we like being outdoors and doing those outdoor activities.  We do a lot of hiking and I tend to like to get to the highest point around.  If you plan on doing the same, you will need a way to transport the water.  They make all kinds of devices to take water with you but with the family, I find that a normal backpack filled with water works the best.  I can carry snacks and water for everyone in the bag.  It’s heavy at first but as the water gets used the bag gets lighter.

Get some inexpensive folding chairs that are easy to transport and don’t take up a lot of room.  Since we travel in the family Enclave, we need as much room as we can get.  The chairs that we have fold up small and fit in their little cases.  They are perfect for sitting around the campfire.

Speaking of campfires, you will probably want to bring some way to start the fire.  We are not hardcore campers so we use a lighter and some fire starters.  Sometimes we just use some small pieces of wood or paper towels to get it started.  Whatever is available, you become resourceful when you forget stuff.

Bring some paper towels, some toilet paper (we usually camp at sites with bathrooms and showers but just in case…), and a way to see in the middle of the night.  We usually bring some flashlights and extra batteries.  If you are relying on the battery powered inflator, you will want extra’s of those batteries as well. 

You will also need some plastic ware, forks are knives. Garbage bags, cooking utensils, and some cups in case you want something to drink out of shared liquids. Also, paper plates would come in handy. Sometimes you can overlook the simple things that you take for granted everyday.

I’m sure that there are other things that you and your family will need but those are the basics.  You will want to bring snacks and easy to transport food for your activities but those things will be personal to you and your family.  If you are planning a camping trip, have a good time!

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