Is there really anything better in the summer than being outside? Camping is the perfect way to enjoy our beautiful summer weather. With so many camping options, you are bound to find the perfect spot for your family.
Camping was a way of life where I grew up in Wyoming. My family created so many great memories together! For years I had been craving the same experiences for my own three children. Last summer our family finally took the plunge and bought our first travel trailer. Through trial and error, I’ve learned a lot about how to execute a successful camping trip with a family of five. Planning a camping trip involves a lot of prep work! Most of these tips apply whether you are camping in a tent or in an RV.
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Before You Leave
- Make reservations well in advance of your trip. Camping has spiked in popularity over the past year making campsites harder to come by. Most campsites book out about 3-6 months in advance and fill up quickly. If you have children, involve them in the planning too. You want them to be excited about where you are going!
- Decide what type of camping experience you want and research the right location for your needs. Private RV parks may offer more amenities and be closer to civilization, while state parks and forest service parks will get you closer to nature. Forest service parks are usually a great option if you want something more rustic and remote.
- Take inventory of your camping supplies before you leave and stock up on any necessities.
- Create checklists. I am a big list maker and planning a camping trip requires a lot of lists! For our trailer I have a departure from home checklist, a campsite set up checklist, and a breakdown checklist. This way I won’t forget anything and have a visual reminder to shut windows, lock storage areas, store loose items, turn off the water pump, etc., as we leave our campsite.
- Check the weather before you leave and plan accordingly. Pack clothing that you can layer as many locations are chilly in the evenings, even in the summer. Extra clothes for kids are a must as they will get dirty. Right now I use these packing cubes to help organize clothing in our trailer.
Meal Planning and Activities
- Meal plan and grocery shop before you hit the road. I plan easier meals when we camp since our space is limited. Prepping in advance helps too. I’ll cut veggies for dinners or make soup or a pasta salad before we leave our house. This is especially helpful for the first night. I’ve found that once we arrive at our campsite and set up, everyone is hungry and no one wants to cook. Having a meal ready to go is a huge timesaver!
- Double check that campfires are allowed where you are staying, especially if you are tent camping. If fire danger is high, fires may be prohibited, which may alter some of your meals if you are planning on cooking over a fire.
- Camping with children? Make sure you plan some kid friendly activities such as bike rides, beach combing, paddleboarding, age appropriate hikes, and site seeing, to name a few. Plan backup activities in case of inclement weather. Once while we were camping at the beach, it poured for an entire day. Movies, books, games, and art projects for my youngest saved the day!
At the Campsite
- One of my favorite things about our trailer is that everything has a home. Food, clothing, dishes, laundry, bedding, cleaning supplies, games, etc., all have their own place. If you are camping in a tent, you can still organize your space so there is a place for everything. Being organized makes camping trips so much more enjoyable!
- Keep things neat and tidy. Smaller spaces can get messy quickly. Stay on top of picking up, doing dishes, and sweeping out your tent or trailer.
- Be flexible and be prepared for changes. Rain, snow, heat, and even wildfires can quickly change camping experiences. Have a backup plan in case the weather changes or circumstances change. We’ve been in situations where our tent has flooded in the middle of the night and where we’ve had to pack up and leave due to wildfire smoke. Develop an emergency plan just in case.
- On departure day, give everyone a job. One adult in our family is in charge of the outside of the trailer, the other the inside. We then designate smaller jobs to each of our three kids.
- Once home clean out your tent or trailer. Wash linens, clean all surfaces, hose down outdoor rugs and chairs, and get everything ready for next time you camp.
- Make a list of any supplies you have run out of that will be necessary for future trips.
- Plan your next camping trip!
A few final suggestions. If you are new to camping, borrow a tent from a friend or rent an RV to test things out before investing in camping equipment. Also, stay fairly close to home for your first trip. Our first camping outing in our new trailer was one night at L.L. Stub Stewart State Park. Only 30 minutes away, we were close to civilization if anything went south.
My biggest tip is to have FUN! Enjoy the experience and remember that your family is making memories that will last a lifetime.
If you are a camper (or “glamper”), what are your best tips for planning a camping trip?