Packing for Camping Trips

Family camping trips can mean a lot of stuff.  Before I had kids, we would carry everything we needed on our backs.  Now, times have changed and we camp a little differently when it comes to kids!  Every time we go on a camping adventure, we have a car full of gear, supplies, and more.  After going on many trips, we have learned how to make packing a little easier.

Make lists.

One time when we camping, we drove almost 3 hours to find that I had forgotten the tent.  Seriously, make a list – and check it twice!  There is a lot of stuff you probably want to bring camping, and it is amazing how forgetting one thing, no matter how big or small, can affect your trip.  This could be a tent.. or it could be a lighter.

Pack in containers.

We pack things like our food and our cooking supplies in plastic bins.  This is great for several reasons – it keeps food from getting crushed, you can pack up your food and keep it in the car away from animals, it keeps everything organized in one place, and you can pack it easily in the car.  It is great to be able to have stackable containers.  So when it is mealtime, we take out one bin, plop it on a picnic table, and then when we are done, it all goes back in and in the car so no worries about wildlife like bears.

Plus, when we get home, we keep a bin of cooking supplies in the basement for our next trip (nothing perishable – things like camping utensils, sponge, travel size soap, small cutting board, etc).

Packing cubes also can make packing easier.  I usually put the kids and my stuff in one duffle – organized by packing cubes.  When we set up our tents, the packing cubes go with each person to their sleeping bag.

Buy a rooftop carrier if possible.

We have a minivan.. and we also have a large Thule Rooftop Cargo Box.  It is so useful!  Instead of packing the van to the ceiling with stuff, we can put items on top of the car.  This is great for stuff like camping chairs, and so much more.

Don’t bring firewood.

Firewood is messy and buggy, and it can contribute to the spread of invasive insects.  We buy campfire wood at the campground.  Some campgrounds won’t even allow you to bring in outside firewood.

Pack extras if you can fit it.

We try to prepare as much as possible.  As long as it fits, I bring extras like lots of layers and changes of clothes, and stuff to do.  Camping can mean rain, dirt, mud, etc.  It is good to come prepared with extra clothing to change into as well as layers to accommodate for hot and cold weather.  I remember hesitating to pack winter hats when we went camping one spring.. and boy was I glad I decided to bring them when nighttime temps dipped below freezing!  I also bring extra stuff to keep the kids busy.

What tips do you have for a successful camping trip?