There is a lot to consider when planning your next camping trip. You are venturing off to an unfamiliar place without the comfort and security of your home, so you want to be prepared for everything. You must cover all your bases when it comes to food and kitchen, safety equipment, clothes, and entertainment. Your goal is to experience your camping trip with confidence and peace of mind.
In this article, we examine all the components of a camping trip that you need to consider when planning and preparing. We dive into the benefits of camping, the different types of habitat arrangements, games to keep you occupied, clothes, equipment, and more. Once you read and refer to this article, you will not need to wonder or second guess if you forgot something. We are here to help you get more organized.
First, Recognize the Benefits of Camping
Before you begin your planning expedition, it is essential to reflect on why you are camping in the first place. Because it is usually a vacation, you should think about all the benefits that the trip will bring you in the areas of mind, body, and relationships. By reminding yourself of these things throughout the entire process, you will be more grateful during the times when the trip starts to get stressful.
The first benefit is the concept of fresh air. Yes, we walk outside during our regular lives, but camping allows you to experience the outdoor atmosphere for the entire time that you are on your trip. When planning your trip, make sure to look at areas that are heavily wooded and provide shade and trees. These types of areas provide an added level of oxygen and rejuvenation through the camp air.
Fresh air goes deeper than just making you feel good. Because it raises the oxygen flow into your body, it enables you to digest food more effectively, which could be useful for you on a trip where you will be eating all sorts of food. The oxygen also helps your white blood cells operate effectively, which strengthens your immune system. Fresh air allows your mind to make sharper decisions as well.
Strengthen Your Current Relationships and Meet New People
Camping also allows you to block out the extra noise and be more present with the people that you care about. Whether you are going with your family, your friends, or your significant other, there will be a lot of opportunities to have an in-depth conversation during your “downtime.” The outdoor camping environment provides serenity and privacy that is conducive for productive and intimate conversations.
Apart from the great conversation, you can also bond with your companions by working together on team-oriented tasks, like setting up the campsite, building a fire, or completing a hike together. When you achieve small goals by combining efforts with someone else, it brings you closer to them. When planning your trip, make time for activities and projects that require teamwork and communication.
You can also build relationships with the other campers around you. Although you might want to remain to yourself and focus on the immediate people around you, camping offers an environment where you are proximal to other people. You never know what relationship you could strike up with another person. Camping provides a level of socialization that will bring happiness to you.
Being Outdoors Can Relieve Stress
When you go camping, you can unplug from the buzzing and commotion that your “regular life” might bring into your life. We are often immersed in professional endeavors, traffic, and commitments that might bring us joy, but can also place a burden on our stress levels. When you go camping, you only need to focus on nature, people around you, and maintaining a fun and safe campsite.
Also, being outdoors usually promotes physical activity, whether it’ walking, doing physical labor for the campsite, or other activities. When you exert your body in these ways, it will loosen up your joins and help prevent chronic pain in the long run. Outdoor exercise also releases positive brain chemicals called endorphins, which promote a good mood.
Also, when you spend time outside forces you to disconnect from your phone, which can be useful for your mental health. Our phones always seem like a necessity in our lives, whether it is to respond to work emails, check social media, or engage with the thousands of apps that are available for us. By eliminating this connection for a few days, you will feel energized because you connected with yourself.
A big part of camping is the preparing, cooking, and eating of the food that you bring. There are unique opportunities to create tasty meals, and you can do this through the campfire, crockpot, skillet, grill, or stove. When you prepare this food, you can share experiences with those around you. Also, when you sit down to eat, you can enjoy an excellent meal with fascinating conversations and memories.
Later in this article, we will get into the many food ideas that you can implement for your camping trip. There are many unique ideas for you to enjoy your favorite foods while eliminating the hassle of spending hours preparing them. Food also tastes better when you make it yourself. Before you go on your trip, be mindful of gathering suggestions from everybody in the group who is going.
Lastly, being outdoors is one of the best places to sit, reflect, and practice your breathing and meditation. You will probably be going with a group of people, but is it vital to budget a little bit of time to yourself. Use this time to find a comfortable place where you can sit, think, and become one with nature and its healthy properties. You could do this early in the morning or late at night when people are asleep.
Meditation is great because it connects your mind and body, which is what camping should do overall. When you are not camping, you are usually distracted by factors and commitments, such as your job and other extracurriculars. Camping affords you the peaceful environment and the added level of fresh air to breathe in.
When you meditate, take deep, big deep breaths at first, and then move to shorter, rhythmic breathing. Taking time to do this is essential because some of your best ideas might come to you in nature. Listen to what your mind is saying because it is in an environment conducive to free thought. Make sure you also take the time to write down the things that come to mind while meditating on this trip.
Decide What Type of Habitat You Will Bring
The next thing to decide is what you will be “living in” during your camping trip. The three main options are a tent, RV/camper, or cabin. Each option has its benefits and drawback, but you must consider it from a cost, comfortability, safety, maintenance, and size standpoint. While you will not be camping forever, you still want your site to feel like home, and your choice of habitat affects that.
There are many different tent products on the market, ranging from size, versatility, and design. If you are mindful of your budget and do not want to spend too much, a tent is a perfect way to go. With the competitiveness of the market, you can find a suitable shelter for a reasonable price. Some options include easy setup and takedown. Make sure to do plenty of research and read all the reviews.
When you purchase a tent, you need to know the size of that you are getting. For example, a 2-room tent will only be able to hold two sleeping bags, and not too much besides that. It is smart for you to buy a tent that has a capacity two higher than the number of people that are sleeping in it. Look for tents that have other areas for you to store your bags and separate kitchen and safety items.
Some other features that you should be mindful of are the poles, protection, setup, and zippers. You should try to stay away from fiberglass poles and aim for aluminum poles because they are sturdier. For the rainy days, you should choose a tent with a large rainfly that will cover a large area than just the top. Also, give preference to shelters that have a roof vent so that you can create air circulation at night.
For the setup stages, be sure that you choose a tent with larger stake loops. When you pitch your tent, there are loops located at the bases, corners, and midpoints of each side. Your tent should have hoops that match up well with the larger stakes from camping stores. Lastly, focus on tent options that provide durable zippers. You will be getting in and out of the tent and want to accommodate that.
RV or Camper
If you decide to go to the RV or camper route, there are many variables to consider. You can each buy one outright, rent one for a week, or if you are lucky enough, borrow from a friend and fill it with gas! Whether you are buying or renting, you should always do your research.
If you ultimately end up deciding to rent, make sure you book it far in advance. There is nothing worse than setting your sights on an RV just to find out that there are none available for you during your predetermined time. Looking into the RV is one of the first things that you should take care of, and you should make sure to do this at least three to six months ahead of time.
The next thing to do is to compare pricing on many different RVs. For you to get the best deal and evaluate a healthy amount of options, it is best to begin with, five inquiries that interest you. Also, you need to obtain the proper insurance for your rental RV. In the process of picking out an RV, you should match it up with the number of people who are going and the designated sleeping arrangements.
Lastly, be aware of the potential for extra renting fees such as the cancellation policy and pet policy. Life events will happen unexpectedly, which may cause you to cancel the vacation, so make sure you understand this before renting. If you decide to bring pets, there might be an extra cost depending on the amount you bring. There will likely be an upfront deposit to go along with this as well.
Depending on where you decide to camp, renting a cabin can be a fun experience for everyone. When you are evaluating cabins to rent, you should ensure that they are located near or in a campground. If it is situated in a place like this, it is more likely to be close to attractions and other adventures that you may want to do.
If you enjoy fishing or swimming, be sure to look for cabins that are near a lake. If your main priority is hiking, ensure that the cabin rental is near hiking trails or beautiful mountains. Make sure to read reviews ahead of time, precisely what people are saying about the cleanliness, maintenance, and overall quality of the property. If the cabin contains a kitchen, see how equipped it is and what you will need to bring.
There are a few benefits to choosing the cabin option. An indoor habitat allows you to lock your doors at night and feel safe, and it will shield you most effectively if you deal with severe weather. Also, you do not have to worry about spending too much time setting up when you arrive at the campsite. You will simply unload your stuff and take it into the cabin. Make sure you research good deals for cabins!
Consider How Far the Campsite is From Your Home
Besides the campsite itself, you and your party need to check on how far the destination is from your home. This information allows you to plan your departure and arrival times accordingly. If you know how far you will be traveling, this will also impact how much belongings you bring.
The total travel distance is especially essential for you to take into consideration if you have smaller kids. If your children are younger, this may mean a shorter commute. You should determine how long your kids will be able to be satisfied and preoccupied in the car, and then pinpoint the campsites that are a reasonable length from your home.
Plan Out Your Activities for When You Are There
Your campground may already have programmed activities, but you should plan activities for your group. Depending on how much luggage you are bringing on the trip, you should make room for the necessary gaming equipment for your family or friends to enjoy. It is better to bring as many games as possible so that you can stay entertained in different ways, and for longer.
Below, we provide suggestions for fun games that you can bring on your camping trips. These activities are sure to promote sustained fun throughout the journey and create great memories for everyone.
Corn hole is great for groups that have at least four people. Also called “bags,” this game can get competitive and is fantastic pre-dinner activity. If you have more than four, you can pair up into teams of two and do a tournament or other round-robin style. It’s also a relaxed game because you can hold a beverage in one hand while playing!
The classic backyard game of frisbee is another fun activity that you can do on vacation. If you are going to a wide-open space and room, this is a great thing to bring on your trip. If you are restricted to your campsite and do not have a lot of extra room, you can play “frisbee cup” or “can jam.” In these games, you throw the frisbee a shorter distance to either knock off a can or make it into a small barrel.
Hillbilly golf is a unique game that you can bring to your camping gathering. The activity is played with stacked rungs facing each other, and each team gets to throw two rope-bound golf balls toward the targets. It has nothing to do with the actual sport of golf, but it is an entertaining game that can get competitive, much like corn hole.
Nature Scavenger Hunt
If you are looking to venture out into the campsite, the nature scavenger hunt is a perfect activity for you. These explorations enable you to get the most out of the area and enjoy the outdoors the way they are supposed to be appreciated. You can divide the challenges into sounds, things to touch, smells, and different sights. Make sure to include the discovery of wildlife and plants around the campground.
This activity can be played by splitting people into teams of 2-4 and making a small competition out of it. You can plan this out ahead of time by typing up a list of challenges and then printing them out. You can make it even more entertaining by incorporating a picture aspect to it, and then sharing your findings as a group once the challenge gets completed.
Check Out the Activities that the Campground Has to Offer
When researching different campsites to reserve your spot at, make sure to look at what each site offers in the form of activities. You should define what you want to achieve out the camping trip, and then apply this to the amenities and activities that you are motivated to participate in. If you are interested in hiking, look for a site with trails. If you have kids, look for locations with playgrounds.
Most campsites and state parks also have a resident center, where they host crafts or outdoor activities like smores. When you first arrive at the campsite, ask the employees if they have a printout of the week’s activities. If you are going during a holiday week, such as Halloween, the campground might have themed events, especially for young kids.
Research Campsite Reviews Online
You can read about the great things that campsites market about themselves on their websites. But if you want to add another level of research to your planning, take time to read the reviews for each property. Take note of BOTH the good and the bad comments, because there is some truth to most opinions. Reading it from both sides will also give you a wider lens of what to expect at the campground.
Be Knowledgeable About the Campground Amenities
Apart from research activities, look and see about the resources that each campground provides. If you are strategic about your campsite, you can view where the bathrooms are and situate yourself near there. This placement guarantees a short walk when you need to use the restroom. Try to avoid booking a site near the entrance of the park or campground because this is where traffic will be most oppressive.
When you check into the campsite, politely ask for a map that you can refer to during your stay. This step will allow you to become better aware of other vital amenities, like hiking trails, campgrounds, and convenience stores.
Plan Meals Before You Leave for Your Trip
You already know that you will eat food during the trip, but you should be the intention of packing meals and snacks that are easy to eat on the go. If you plan and either bake or pack tasty meals, you will spend less time worrying about it during your trip. Some great packaged snacks include:
- Trail mix
- Granola bars
- Yogurt (if you can refrigerate)
- Fruit snacks
- Brown bag sandwiches
For your full breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus, focus on the following meals that you can either cook ahead of time or during the trip:
- Hot dogs and hamburgers
- Pizza that gets cooked on a cast iron
- Pineapple pork shish kabobs
- Tacos of various flavors, like barbecue black bean, beef, chicken, or even breakfast tacos
- Chili or soup
- Fruit skewers with whipped cream
- Skillet nachos
- Sausage links
- Smore fixings
- Mac and cheese
- Mason jar ramen
The opportunities are endless, but if you plan your meals, the group will be much happier overall.
Make a List for Packing the Necessities
Lastly, you must pack for success. When deciding which clothes to bring, focus on coverings for all types of weather and temperature. You never know what the weather will bring, and the temperature at night in a tent can be unpredictable. The main lesson is to be prepared for everything. Below, we have highlighted the essentials in the areas of campsite, kitchen, clothing, tools, and health and hygiene.
Here are the most reliable options you can bring to make sure your campsite is prepared for everything:
- Sleeping bags
- Sleeping pillows
- Chairs for the table and campfire
- Extra blankets
- Lamp or flashlight
- Roasting sticks
- Citronella candles
You want to have the flexibility to make any meal you wish to, and be able to clean up after it, so here are the kitchen essentials:
- Griddle or stove
- Frying pan
- Cooking pots
- Matches or lighter
- Paper towels
- Bottle opener
- Sharp knife
- Cutting board
- Mugs or cups
- Garbage bags
- Sink or wash bins
Clothing and Footwear
Your main goal should be to feel comfortable the whole time you are camping, so here is what you can bring for clothes to achieve that goal:
- Underwear and t-shirts that moisture-wicking
- Pants and shorts that are quick drying
- Long-sleeve shirts
- Fleece or jacket that is lightweight
- Boots or shoes that can brave the terrain
- Comfortable socks
- Swimsuits if it will be warm enough
- Sandals if it is hot or if you are going to the beach
Tools and Repair Items
To stay prepared for all emergencies, make sure to bring the following tools:
- Duct tape
- Extra cord or extension cord
- Saw or ax for the firewood
- Small dustpan and broom
- Mat or rug for the entrance to the tent
- Repair sleeve for any broken tent poles
Health and Hygiene
Lastly, even though you are not using your bathroom, you want to feel like you have your health and hygiene under control. Here is what you can bring to cover your bases in this area:
- Toilet paper
- Hand sanitizer
- Toiletry kit
- Prescription medications
- Bug spray
- Lip balm
- First aid kit
Conclusion: Always Have a Backup Plan for Everything
As you can see, there are a lot of components that go into planning for a camping trip. Your main goal is to transform a somewhat laborious activity like camping into a relaxing vacation for you and your loved ones. You can impact the quality of your trip by having a healthy game plan far ahead of time. By collaborating and discovering the needs of everyone, you can plan and meet needs effectively.
It is also essential to have a backup plan for everything. No vacation ever goes 100% as planned, and you must bring a mindset of resiliency and flexibility in a time of change. A great planner has backup activities or options if things fall through. But most importantly, as you enjoy the fruits of your planning on the trip, make sure to live in the present moment and get the most out of nature!