Camping is a great way to spend time with the family and get away from electronics and other distractions. Here are a few tips to help you have a successful camp out.
Make a reservation for a campsite. There are some campgrounds that are walk up sites. We’ve found that if we wait until Friday, we’ll rarely find a spot. We always make a reservation if possible. Usually you can make a reservation up to 6 months in advance. You can check out ReserveAmerica or Recreation.gov. Just type in an area you are interested in visiting and it will bring up campgrounds in that area.
Make a menu plan. Most campgrounds aren’t close to any stores so you have to bring everything with you. As you plan out each meal, write each item you would use for that meal including any condiments, seasonings, pots, utensils, etc. We have forgotten salt and pepper so often! If you will only be using a little of each condiment, you can buy small containers to put them in. Write every item down on your list. I sort my list by what I already have, need to buy and what I will pack in the snack bin or cooler as well. Then when it is time to pack, I just look at my list. Here’s my post on packing for a trip. We usually keep it very simple since we don’t want to spend a ton of time cooking food up there. Here are some of our favorite quick camping foods.
- Hot dogs wrapped with a slice of pepper jack cheese wrapped in croissants. Slowly cooked over the fire.
- Cooked taco meat-for tacos, taco salad, or Frito bags.
- Steak and cheesy potatoes.
- Breakfast burritos (pre-made and frozen). Then we just have to thaw them on the element. You can add eggs, cheese, peppers/onions, and breakfast meat. What ever each kid likes. Wrap in a tortilla with aluminum foil and freeze.
- Omelets in a bag.
- Oatmeal packets and fruit cups.
- Hot chocolate and apple cider. It is always cold in the mornings.
- Peanut Butter and Honey sandwiches or tuna packets (don’t need to be refrigerated).
- Lots of snacks and drinks. My kids love these drink packets to put in their water bottles.
Here are some other essentials to bring…
- Tent. Keep in mind that if the tent says it’s an 8 man tent, it really won’t fit 8 unless they are laying side by side, very close together in sleeping bags with no extra walking space. Our family of 5 uses a 9 person tent. It leaves us a little space in between the air mattresses for our other items.
- Air Mattress, cot, or self-inflating mat for each person. We have a queen air mattress, twin air mattress and our big queen cot. We also have a pump that plugs into the car. Usually there are rocks, roots, or moisture on the ground and makes for a very uncomfortable night without something to sleep on.
- Sleeping bags. Keep in mind that the higher up in elevation you go, the warmer sleeping bags you’ll need. We got the kids 10 degree sleeping bags. They work great for 40-50 degree temperatures. I got tired of getting cold so we bought a really nice 0 degree one. Now I never get cold! We also bring a few extra blankets just in case the kids get cold.
- Camping chairs.
- Roasting sticks. We like how these are so compact. We also love using these color flame fire packets to add a little fun to the fire.
- Portable Stove, Lighter, and any pots or pans you’ll need with your menu. Don’t forget cooking utensils. You can cook all your food in the fire if you’d like. Most campground hosts have firewood you can buy. We usually don’t have room to pack it!
- Flashlights. We have this one. It’s great! Solar powered or you can crank it and you can charge your electronics on it as well. It gets really dark in the mountains so make sure that everyone has their own flashlight. The kids really enjoy using their head lamps! They are great when you have to use the restroom in the dark.
- Glow sticks. The kids love them when it’s dark and they become a night-light of sorts.
- Clothes. We always pack warm PJs, pants, warm socks, and jackets because it is always cold in the nighttime. Layering is the key. Weather is so unpredictable in the mountains.
- Good sturdy shoes and socks. Flip flops aren’t the best for camping unless you have a river or lake nearby. Most campgrounds are dirt so closed-toed shoes are best.
- Hats. (especially for day 2 when you don’t want to comb your hair).
- Food. Make a list of food items to pack. We always pack extra snacks.
- Bug spray and Sunblock. There are lots of mosquitoes in the mountains. Come prepared.
- Fishing poles. There are so many places to fish in the mountains. My family fishes and I read books. Very relaxing activities. Don’t forget your fishing license.
- A water jug or camp shower and hand soap to wash your hands. We also bring hand sanitizer.
- Cooler. We like to freeze water bottles when we are camping and by day 2 or 3 we have nice cold water to drink. and it keeps our cooler cold longer. We also freeze any precooked meat we will be using…like hamburger or hot dogs.
- Garbage bags. You have to pack out any garbage you use. We like to use paper plates so we can burn them in the fire.
Camping is a great way to have quality time with your family. We have made some amazing memories camping together.
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