Whether you’re heading to a BBQ or off for a week-long camping trip, packing your cooler right will ensure that everything stays as cold as it should be, and that your food doesn’t spoil.
If there’s anything a seasoned camper can offer, it’s advice to first timers.
In this special 3-part series, I help to walk you through a typical camping excursion. From packing to building a campfire, and even making sure the kids are having fun, you’ll look like a pro, even if you aren’t.
In Part One, I cover menu-planning, packing for the trip and camp supplies for first-timers.
Part Two will cover setting up your campsite, building a fire and cooking, while Part Three will tackle fun for the kids, finding time to relax and coming home.
Ready? Let’s take you from a first timer to a pro!
You can be comfortable on a camping trip even if you hate to camp. Let’s face it, we’re not all outdoorsmen, right? I can’t speak for myself in this regard. I’d live outside all summer long, if it were possible… but then my mortgage would be a waste of money.
So what can you do to be comfortable while camping if you hate to camp? How would you even get into a situation like this?
Who knows? Maybe a group of friends has voted to camp somewhere. You might have gone with them, kicking and screaming. Maybe they don’t even know you hate camping. They probably do, between you and me. I can tell just by someone’s reaction to bugs lol!
At any rate, you’re up the creek without a paddle, so now you have to make the best of it. Here’s how:
Packing clothes is the hardest part for me when we go camping. For men/boys, it’s relatively easy because they think nothing of wearing the same pair of jeans for 5 days, they just switch it up by alternating between two different t-shirts, KWIM? But I like some variety and I try to plan for whatever Mother Nature throws at us.
We use two large gym bags for our clothes, my husband and I share one, and the boys share one. I find it is just easier that way, since they share a tent. This way, one bag goes into each tent. I prefer to use totes to pack clothes in, a good, sealed tote will keep moisture and dampness out if you’re camping during a rainy period, but it depends on the room you have available in your vehicle.
I usually have my kids pack a pair of jeans, a pair of sweatpants, two sweatshirts, a pair of pjs, 3 pairs of shorts, with a couple of tank top style shirts and a couple of t-shirts. Then they pack a pair of underwear and a pair of socks for each day, and add two pairs. You never know!
My husband packs his own, and usually follows the same plan as the boys do… but me? A girl needs some variety, am I right? I can’t just limit myself to two different t-shirts… I mean, what if we get there (4 1/2 hours away from home, an hour to the closest retailer!), and I decide, I don’t want to wear the fushia shirt I thought I would want to wear, I really want the powder blue one instead but it’s at home? Ugh, the decisions!
Luckily, they make women’s t-shirts very thin (hence why I layer them with a tank or another t-shirt,), so I can pack as many as will fit. Most of the time, I wait until my husband is done packing his things, then I utilize whatever space he missed (sshhh, don’t tell him!). I can usually squeeze a substantial amount of clothing into my “half” of the bag =)
The BEST and BIGGEST secret to packing clothing for any kind of trip… friends, pay attention because this is important stuff…it’s rolling your clothing up.
You may have seen this tip before and not thought much of it, but I guarantee you, if you try to fold your clothing up and pack it, and then try rolling it, you will have more space leftover after rolling it. Not to mention, rolling up your clothing reduces wrinkles! I kid you not, your clothes will be virtually wrinkle-free when you pull them out to get dressed!
But there are three add-on tricks I’m going to share with you, and fellow moms, you will love me for this! First, roll your child’s outfits into one roll. Lay out one pair of jeans, layer a sweatshirt on top, and then a t-shirt. Roll. When it’s time to get dressed, their entire outfit is in one convenient package, there is no guessing what goes with what. (You can also add in underwear and socks if you prefer)
Second, if you have little kids, pick two or three colours for your child’s outfits and stick with them. In the event you need to mix and match, everything will be coordinated, no matter what they wear. With my boys, it was always navy blue and grey. It was SO handy!
And lastly, you want your clothes smelling fresh, right? How do you keep that freshness when you’ve been camping for three days? I have your answer!
When you are rolling your outfits together, sneak a dryer sheet into the mix. They take no space, they keep your clothes smelling great (perfect if your tent is downwind from the fire… I love the campfire smell, for sure, but not everything I own needs to smell like a campfire), AND, if your campground has laundry facilities, you have dryer sheets handy to use. Added bonus, you could also use them as fire starters if you’re desperate! (After one run in the dryer)
Unfortunately, I do not have the phone number for a laundry fairy upon returning from said camping trip… but I will definitely share my tips on unpacking in a future post!
Thanks for reading… and as always, please share your great ideas and tips!
Hello, and welcome to my new little nook on the web.
If you know me, you also know that I used to run a cake business/blog over on Blogger, and that I shut it down to spend more time with my family. Family is definitely the priority in my life, and I enjoy our time together!
If you don’t know me, I am sarcastic, funny and just a tad OCD, so if you’re at all like me, I’d be thrilled to have you follow me!
Anyway, we have just returned from our annual family camping trip to gorgeous Algonquin Provincial Park. With our 20+ years of camping experience, a lot of friends ask me what I bring, what kinds of foods I pack… how do I make it as simple as possible? So I thought I would share my tips and tricks, and I need to be quite honest, I am forever on Pinterest to scope out new ideas! There is ALWAYS a new idea on there, so every year, I try something new.
Up until this year, we have always had to borrow a family member’s van to go camping. Recently, we bid farewell to our humble servant, our 1998 Dodge Neon, she was with us for over 14 years. She saw one trip to Algonquin, two kids, several evenings at the drive-in, trips to Ottawa, Kingston, Dunnville and Ohio. Deciding to stick with the same brand, since it did so well for us the first time, we’ve recently purchased a slightly used 2013 Dodge Journey. We absolutely love her, and love that we don’t need to inconvenience anyone when we go back to our favourite place on earth!
She has already seen many of the places I’ve mentioned above, and our boys love it too because they can plug all their gadgets in and pair their iPads with the stereo.
Anyway… back to the real topic! Camping.
After you have gone camping once or twice, you usually have a good idea of what to bring, what not to bring, what you have a good chance of forgetting and what might make the next trip just a little better! Years ago, a friend asked me for a list of things to bring, so I sat down and typed it all out for her. I still use that list today! Of course, through the years, it’s been edited and changed slightly, to coincide with technology and the lack of or gained space, and of course, our changing interests. Always start with a list! In fact, each year that we come back home, I make a small list of things to replace in our camping gear so that we can buy it ASAP and already have it in there when we need it the following year.
Aside from the master camping list, your stuff needs to be stored. I have been using Rubbermaid totes for several years now, and I find that they are handy because they are both durable and stackable, have lids that actually stay closed, and fit well under our basement stairs. A good way to start out with this is to buy one or two and try them out in your vehicle. We had four of the largest totes, and they fit well in the van, but they didn’t quite cut it in the Journey, so we had to swap two out for half-sized totes, in order to fully utilize the space we have in the back. This led us to downsizing some of the stuff we brought with us this year, but it didn’t affect our activities or the amount of fun we had!
I hope this inspires you to pack smarter for your next trip to the great outdoors. If you’ve planned ahead well, your trip will truly be easier and happier! Next post: the crockpot!
I welcome your comments and any tips you’d like to share 🙂