Preparing and Packing for Camping

We have been doing an annual camping trip with our friends for the last 5 or so years and every year I try to pack and prepare a little more efficiently each year. So, I thought I would share a few of our ideas to keep things simple and efficient:


You can find a billion and one ideas for camping on Pinterest, you can find just as much, if not more for glamping! I spend a lot of time pinning to find things that will help us, or ideas that I'd like to try out...You can see my camping board here:

When we go camping, we use tents and we usually try and squeeze as much as we possibly can in while keeping things minimal, if that makes any sense... We go for 3-4 days (2-3 nights) and it's 6-10 adults and our 3-4 kids (depending on if my brother and sister in law make it with my nephew).

Unfortunately, most of the posts that I find usually are TOTALLY roughing it or are about camping with a camper or cabin.

So, if you are tent camping for just a few days, this is the planning post for you!

First, I made a group for our camping trip on Facebook and set up documents for everyone to enter what they have to contribute. This way, we can plan on sharing everything and we don't all need to bring EVERYTHING.

I also made a document planning meals since we split them up for the weekend as well. Our favorite meals are things like, classic burgers and hot dogs (works well for the night you check in - easy and minimal prep after unloading and setting up the campsite), walking tacos (minimal prep, easy to reheat the meat), fruit & muffins for breakfast (minimal cooler space, no prep or re-heating necessary).

This year we are trying sloppy Joes, campfire cooked eggs & breakfast meats, and a pasta salad for lunch one day. I'll let you know how that works out later on.

My little family got a new tent this summer and we tested it out over the 4th of July - a great run before heading out a couple hours away this fall! It was also super convenient to figure out what we would need to bring and stock up on before hand.


It's a mess, but we weren't doing it for photos, we were doing it for our family and it was on my husband's parents's lake shore - nothing fancy.

Anywho, see that red crate up there in the right? That. Yea, that thing is wonderful! I took a plastic paper towel holder and glued it onto it - I should have moved it down a little, but it's alright. I used the Bounty towels with Dawn soap in, SUPER great for washing hands easily and washing cutting boards and knives. It eliminates the need for a bottle of soap. This is the crate that I used (I just didn't get a 12 pack)! It'd be worth it though because they are super easy and convenient for packing:

You can pack odd shaped items in them, they stack on top of one another for traveling and then again for campsite storage! I put most of our pantry items in them. I also put the flammables in there although it would probably be smarter to put them in a tub of some sort that the kids don't have access to. Our kids are generally very uninterested in things like that so I don't worry too much about it - they also never had free access to the porch unless one of us was up there.

So, if you're going camping for only a few nights at a campsite, here's a list of things that you could need:

  • a Water Jug (keep soapy water in it and use for washing hands - or skip water bottles and fill with cool drinking water)

  • Tiki Torches (not necessary, but fun to mark off your campsite with - plus you can fill them with citronella!)

  • Tiki Fuel (because, duh!)

  • Stack of Drawers (convenient for holding and organizing plates, napkins, plastic wear, kitchen utensils, lighters, etc.)

  • Plastic Latch Box (ideal for packing towels in - they stay dry for the beach or outside)

  • Plastic Plate Holders (if you use paper plates - which eliminates waste because you can burn the plates & reuse the holders)

  • Tarps (we used them under the tent on the lake shore because the ground was rough - also handy in case of rain)

  • Outdoor Rug or Welcome Mat (find both at the Dollar Store - for inside & outside of your tent door)

  • Hot pad holders, silverware, potato peeler, can opener, spatula, serving spoon, tongs, cups for hot beverages & juice

  • Coffee pot and or Pour Over (we found last year that this is a REQUIREMENT)
  • Bee spray (like Raid), bug spray, citronella of some kind, sunscreen

  • Quick Pump (for air beds that you can plug into your car - WAY easier than a battery one)

  • Cast iron skillet, stainless steel pot(s), cutting board of any kind

  • Aluminum foil, plastic wrap, ziplock baggies, garbage bag, plastic grocery bags

  • Bungee cords, rope (for dealing with tarps or clothesline)

  • Air beds (we just have one that we have to fill up every day and we got these kid ones)

  • Waterproofing for the tent

  • Lantern (electric or gas), flashlights, battery operated lights (for in the tent or canopy)

  • Games (uno, swap, skip-bo, phase 10 are great, easy camping games to bring)

  • Skewers, campfire sticks (for marshmallows and hot dogs)

  • Campfire tripod (super convenient - we found out last year that it was also necessary)
  • Blankets or Sleeping Bags (we use blankets - easier to wash and add or subtract depending on temperature)

  • Pillows

  • Toiletries (plastic caddies from the Dollar Store are great for toting to the showers and back)

  • Clothes (watch on Wednesday for a post about good clothes to pack for camping)

  • Jammies (to be perfectly honest, I have forgotten my jammies before)

  • Underwear (yep, forgotten this before too - just Andrew's though)

  • Sandals and shoes for walking

  • Towels (bring one beach towel for each person and grab one or two extras - also great to have a dishtowel and some rags with)

  • Sweats (great to have pants for the evenings and a sweatshirt is ideal for mornings)

  • Layers (you don't want to go without layers)

  • Reusable water bottles & coffee cups (great to eliminate waste and saves some packing room, also ensures kids will stay hydrated)

  • Camera, batteries & memory cards (seriously, camping is worth taking pictures of)

  • Chargers (you can either sit by the car and charge or typically there are outlets somewhere that you can make use of)

  • Campsite map (I like to have a visual of where we're going)

  • Reservation emails printed (you know, just in case - electric systems DO fail)

  • Card Table and/or Large Folding table (great for serving and organizing with)

  • Hammer (comes in handy if the ground is hard where you're staking or helpful when friends get out of hand...JUST KIDDING!!!!!!)

  • A printed menu (if you went ahead and planned meals, it's worth having a printable on hand)

  • Walkie-Talkies are great fun if you're with a group
Like I said, most of this can fit in the Action Packer and the kitchen items we pack in either the crates or the kitchen drawers. Did I miss anything? Do you bring anything else when you go camping?

Watch on Friday for a post about camping with kids - yep, I left a WHOLE post worth out about the kids!!! :)

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