“Be prepared.” -Boy Scouts
All good planning begins with a list. Don’t you agree?
Even if you aren’t a very organized camper, the master list is the mother of all camping lists, where absolutely EVERYTHING you could possibly need is on it. And I’m going to help you put yours together.
We have had a pretty decent list for over 20 years, and each year, I print it out and pull out all the camping gear, and go over it. Each item, as it’s found, is checked off the list. In the margin, I jot down a shopping list, things that need to be topped up or replaced.
If it’s not on the list, it doesn’t go into the vehicle.
With four people and a 2013 Journey, I’ve had to scale back on some things to make room for the most important items. There have been years where beach toys or the inflatable boats haven’t made it to the campsite (and the boys were not impressed, obviously!). What can ya do? There’s only so much space, and our roof carrier can also only hold so much.
This is where your planning skills come in. By making sure that all the necessities make it, then you can make informed decisions on what extras you may be able to bring.
Where to Start:
Grab a few sheets of paper and a pencil, and let’s begin:
My list contains five categories. Camping equipment, kitchen stuff, clothing, toiletries, and food.
Begin with all of the obvious items, such as tents, sleeping bags, air mattresses, pillows, tarps, etc. These are what I call the “rough stuff”, or the major camping elements. Think of this part of the list as your sleeping quarters/staying dry section. Write everything that you could possibly need, you can make edits later.
Next, move onto kitchen/cooking. Examples are camp stove, propane, mess kits, cutlery, kettle, etc. This section should include anything you may (or may not) need in order to cook your meals. If you’ve camped a few times, and have a general idea of the kinds of meals you usually make, then list everything you need in order to cook those meals. We’ll get to food in a bit.
Clothing is next and can usually be kept fairly minimal. By keeping an eye on the weather a week or two before your camping trip, you can make adjustments to this list. Clothing for a family can take up a substantial amount of space in your vehicle, so think minimalist but smart. Less is more, and you get double duty if your campground has laundry facilities, it means you can pack even less.
Toiletries are the stuff to make you feel like a human when you’re out in the wild. I’ve written a few pieces on being minimalistic when it comes to these items. You can catch them here and here. Once again, write down everything that you could possibly need to bring, and this includes prescriptions and medications. You can edit this list later, and pare down… but if you absolutely need hairspray for those humid days, put it on the list. Life’s too short to have bad hair while on a vacation!
Most importantly, your list should include all food items. Planning a camp menu is not only super easy, especially with resources like one of my Pinterest boards, but it’s fun to adapt foods to travel with. Gone are the days of pork and beans and hot dogs. With great items like crock pots and Dutch ovens, your menu opens up to a wide range of new possibilities. So, list the recipes or meals you want to make. Then break those down into ingredients and add them to your shopping list.
A friendly word of advice, be sure to list the basics like salt and pepper, tea/coffee/hot chocolate, sugar if you take it in your tea or coffee.
Prepare any foods you can before you leave for your trip, freezing whenever possible.
As you camp more often, you’ll find yourself tweaking this list and making changes. Your end result should be a complete list of everything you could possibly need, want or use on your camping trip.
Hopefully, you have a pro to pack the vehicle with all this stuff… Unfortunately, you cannot borrow my husband! I don’t know how he does it but each time we camp, he performs a packing miracle!
Do you already have a master camping list? What would you say is the least ordinary item on it?