I have been camping for more than 50 years, some of my fondest memories have been tent camping. I started camping very young, I believe my first trip I was about 5 years old when I got upset with my mom and decided I was running away from home.
I made a peanut butter sandwich put it in my napsack and headed out. To this day I don’t know how I got the peanut butter, because my mom always had to get it out of the cupboard for me. I wonder if she left it out on purpose?
My first trip seemed to last for days, but it was probably only a few hours. I remember sitting on a park bench eating my sandwich as the sun was going down realizing that my plan had a flaw, I hadn’t planned for the nighttime, so I headed home.
The morale of the story I guess is if you’re going to leave the comforts of home you need to plan so you don’t have to return to your mom when it gets dark.
Making a good camping trip plan is the best way to ensure your trip is the most enjoyable. A good way to start is to create a master list of all the items you will need with you when you travel no matter what kind of traveling you will be doing. It is a good idea to make this master list long before your trip, you will no doubt need to add items as the trip date approaches.
We actually have several variations to the master list depending on the mode of transportation and the destination.
For instance we had a cottage in the mountains, 2 RVs, a truck camper for fishing and weekend tours and a larger RV for extended trips. Oh and not to forget the list for our motorcycle tours.
Each of these lists was a variation of the master depending on the destination, the weather forecast, and the activities that would be involved.
I am not going to list all the things you will need. Most items are obvious, like food, water, cooking apparatus, fuel, but what I am going to do is let you know some of the things we have found to be helpful.
This is probably the biggest challenge when tent camping. I remember when I was young and camping with my parents and 4 brothers and sisters we seemed to have endless boxes just for the kitchen. They contained, dishes, cutlery, pots and pans, condiments, food, and many other necessities.
My Dad had built a couple of special camping boxes with slots and cubby holes custom made for all the different items. Although quite heavy they were very effective and the top was used as a kitchen counter. Click here to check out camping kitchens on Amazon or if you are the do it yourself type check out chuck box plans at http://blueskykitchen.com
We use several plastic drawer cabinets to transport, plastic dishes, cutlery, towels & linen, and many other items. The plastic cabinets are light, inexpensive and easily accessible. Walmart has a good selection and many different shapes and sizes.
Keeping food cold is also a challenge, block ice or frozen milk cartons placed in the bottom of the cooler work well. Block ice will last much longer than crushed ice, and using the milk cartons keeps the water contained as the ice melts.
An electric cooler is an option although be careful not to kill your car batteries as I did. I left the cooler plugged into the lighter overnight and by morning my truck batteries were stone dead.
An option is a small generator to power the cooler, click here to check them out.
We have used an electric cooler often, it works well for us especially if you use ice as well. It also works well at home, we use it in the summer for an outdoor beverage cooler on the deck. The one we have is the Coleman 40 quart Power Chill. click here to check out electric coolers.
Hauling this valuable commodity can be a pain, and no matter how much we bring it never seems to last as long as we think it should. There are all sorts of sizes and shapes of water containers, but they all need to be filled and transported to your camp. The bigger they are the longer they last and the harder they are to haul.
The best device by far for hauling water is a water bladder, they come in different sizes and are constructed with heavy vinyl so when empty take up very little room. The only draw back is they are impossible to carry when full.
I have seen them hauled in all sorts of ways, from the back of a pickup truck to the roof of a smart car. The beauty of the bladder is it will hold plenty of water and as long as it is slightly elevated you have running water, just attach a hose and a tap and voila. click here to check out water bladders on Amazon
Ahh The Shower
Most people are the same, after a few days of camping a shower is mandatory, even the hardiest camper cannot make it more than a week without at least a dip in a nearby creek or lake. A friend of ours used to have a sponge bath in the tent, she referred to it as a PTA bath……….not sure what that means?
Amazon has many different shower options from the famous black plastic container that you leave in the sun to warm to elaborate enclosed tent rooms. Click here to check them out.
The Rest Room
Not sure why its called the rest room, or water closet, toilet seems to fit?? The fact is if you feed the machine there is always a by product, (waste). Campgrounds have at least a vault toilet (out house), but in the middle of the night some of us do need to “rest”. There are many types of portable toilets on the market.
Some are literally just a 5 gallon bucket with a seat, click here to check out the varieties of portable toilets on Amazon.
The Picnic Table
This is a definite must for campers and most campgrounds do have them, but an extra table is handy for food prep. or to cook on. We have a folding picnic table, that is light and strong, click here to check them out.
One necessity in light especially at night when a trip to the restroom cannot be avoided. We have a solar flashlight that sits on the dash of our truck for charging. A great LED light and you never need batteries, click here to check out solar flashlights.
Also a solar light that sits on the table, click here to check out solar camping lights on Amazon
Haps and Mishaps
When I was a kid we didn’t camp often but the trips created vivid memories. Back then one of the goals was to have a comfortable sleep spot, my Dad had a solution.
He had great ideas, and some were good. Back then I am not sure if air mattress or memory foam were invented yet, but we could not afford these luxuries in any case.
His idea to make a comfortable bed was to cut cedar boughs and place them in the spot the tent was to be pitched. It worked quite well although a bit lumpy but better than sleeping on the hard ground.
Of course I would not recommend this procedure in a government campground or private one for that matter you will probably be asked to leave or worse.
This less than brilliant idea of course had evolved. My mother always “commented” on sleeping in a tent on the cold ground. My Dad again had a solution.
We had an old pickup truck and the solution to the dilemma was to place a thick blanket of hay in the pickup box to make for a soft warm above ground bed for my mother.
Well ………..this seemed to be a perfect solution, my Dad was as proud as a peacock, until we headed out, with mom and dad in the cab of the pickup and us kids in the back box.
All was wonderful, a sunny warm day we were bouncing down the gravel road, a happy family heading on a camping trip……… until.
I’m not sure what was the cause, an errant cigarette butt or the exhaust system too close to the underside of the metal truck box, but suddenly there was smoke seeping from under the loose hay.
Well I suppose like the Keystone Cops we got our parents attention and the pickup pulled over. Everything was jettisoned as quick as possible. We all stood shocked at the mess.
It was quite the site our family standing on the side of the road surveying the smoldering mess of hay and camping gear. In the end it became an amusing story told around the campfire for years to come.
I have created a comprehensive list of equipment and items you may need for your RV travels click here to check out my list.
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I hope this article helps with preparing for your camping adventures. If you have any comments or suggestion I would love to read them.
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