I've been getting a lot of questions about how I plan for a camping trip so i decided to lay it all down for you! It takes practice to really know what you're going to need, but i've learned a lot of tips and tricks over the years that I'm sure will be helpful!
1. Book Site / Talk to the local Ranger
I'd say the most important first step would be to choose your destination...duh. You can go anywhere! There are so many amazing marked and dispersed campsites to adventure to. I love dispersed camping because its a much more secluded experience but, if you're new to camping theres some pretty special campsites out there that even have toilets and running water! You don't have to be Mrs. Rugged in order to go camping, but you do need an open mind and not afraid to get dirty! Once I've found a spot I ALWAYS call the ranger station to make sure there aren't any closures or other information I need to know about before heading up the mountain. This is an important step because I often get word that sites have been temporarily closed due to excess rain or fires. Calling always insures you won't run into any surprises once you're there!
With more popular sites you sometimes have the option to book your site online. This isn't always the case and most are first come first serve, but if you're going to any National Parks or Forests you'll usually have to book your site weeks if not months in advance to make sure you get a spot. If you're looking for group camp sites this is usually the case as well.
2. Make Lists!
I make a lottttt of lists when planning a camping trip. I make gear lists, toiletry lists, food lists, and even backpack lists. This is the ONLY way not to forget anything and I usually start making these a couple weeks out or use old lists from past trips to remind myself of important items. There's always a lot of moving parts when trying to get ready for a camping trip and lists are kind of the only way to keep things organized. Otherwise, you get to the wilderness and you have no cups and no sunscreen!!
3. Plan your Meals
You're definitely going to want to plan your meals ahead of time. This way you can get exactly what you need, but it also prevents you from buying too much. We've gone on trips where we've just gone to the grocery store before leaving town and ended up with way way way too much food. Eating on your camping trip is one of the best parts (food never tastes better), but it makes it a lot easier when you've decided on a menu. If you're camping with a group you can divide the items to buy and then you'll have the perfect amount and no repeat items! There's a lot of great camping recipes in THIS book and I am planning a cooking at your campsite post but some of our favorite go-to camping meals are...
1. Breakfast Tacos with Corn Tortillas, Eggs, Soy Chorizo, Bacon, Avocado, Cheese, and Iced Coffee
2. Bratwurst Sausage, Gluten Free Buns, Peppers and Onions, Corn on the Cob, and Lemonade
3. Portobello Mushrooms, Acorn Squash, Smoked Ribs and a Cold Beer
4. Safety First!
Safety is so important when you're out in the wild. Even if you're car camping and town may just be just a few miles away it can take much longer to get help. A lot of the time there is no cell service and no way to call 911 in a real emergency. Usually everything goes great and theres no need to use a first aid kit other than the occasional band aid or anti-itch cream, but it's always extremely important to have one just in case. You can buy pre-loaded first aid kits on Amazon or REI, but they are expensive and usually don't even have everything you need. It's cheaper to buy the individual items and make up your own kit. REI has tons of individually packed first aid refills that work great and this way you can build up your pack over time. Common injuries on the campground are skin ailments, snake and insect bites, sprains/fractures, and open wounds and cuts. If you come prepared you can handle any of these injuries with ease.
There's some stuff in the picture below, but theres definitely a few things missing that i recommend bringing. #1 is a snake bite kit...seriously this is the difference between life and death. Especially for people like me who mostly camp in California this is definitely something to have on hand. That being said I have never had to use mine - it's just important to have!
I could go on and on and on and on. I could tell you all about how to pack for your pet, I could show you the perfect day pack, go into all the gear we use, the best recipes for over the fire, and so much more (posts to come) but these are the four most important steps for planning your camping trip. It takes a bit of effort to get everything ready to venture out into the wild, but it is worth it every single time. Check back for more soon!