Getting Ready to “Get Out and Go Camping”
Mary and I are currently getting ready for a four day camping trip this weekend. As we started preparing for this trip, I began thinking about all the things we needed to get ready. I have read that some people with kids take about two to three days to prepare for a campout. I can believe that as it usually takes us at least one day to prepare. There are certain things that need to be taken care of well in advance and others that can be done the day before departure. Let’s take a look at some of these.
We’ll begin with the earlier things that need to get done:
Make the reservation – If you’re campsite requires it or if you are going at a busy time, make sure you have your reservation made. Even if you plan on taking one of the first-come-first-serve sites, a reservation will at least ensure that you have a spot to set up camp in case it is a busy weekend. Most parks will allow you to change your site if you want once you get there.
Review your gear – Take a moment to review your camping gear and think about any changes that need to be made. Think about the last time you went camping. Was there anything that needed repair? Was there something you were going to add to your gear? For example, let’s say one of your tent poles broke in the Fall and you thought you would just take care of it in the Spring. Now it is a few days before your Spring trip but you haven’t ordered a new pole yet. Thinking about this a few days or even weeks ahead will help you avoid last minute surprises.
Grocery shopping – We all have our favorite foods to eat when camping. Take some time to plan out a menu and from that, create a grocery list.
Freeze ice blocks – When we go camping for several days, I like to create my own ice blocks rather than use the store-bought freezer packs. I use gallon Ziploc bags (double zipper) filled with water and then I place them in a rectangular plastic container (for shape) and then place them in the freezer. It usually takes about three days for the block to freeze solid. They last a lot longer than ice cubes.
The day before the trip
And then there are the things that can be done the day of the trip or the day before:
Pull out the camping gear – I like to make sure our gear is all together in one spot. It makes it so I’m not scrambling around looking for it all right before we leave.
Prepare the food – Depending on how much preparing and cooking you want to do outside, you may want to get some of that done ahead of time at home. For certain dishes we prepare some of the food at home and then just heat it up over the fire. This works great when you need a quick meal without a lot of mess.
Charge the electronics – There are a few items that we have that are rechargeable and we also use rechargeable batteries for other items. Make sure you leave enough time for them to fully charge.
Do you know where you’re going? – Sometimes I will get so caught up in getting ready that this is the last thing I think of before we head out the door. Make sure you have a map and you know where you are going.
Tricks of the trade
There are some tricks of the trade to making camping a less hectic event to prepare for. Here are a few:
Leave it better than when you found it – …your camping gear that is. Whenever you finish using your camping gear, take the time to make sure it is cleaned and properly stored. Packing away a tent that is still wet can cause you a headache when you get it out again. And let’s not think of what would happen if your camping dishes weren’t clean before you stored them. Taking good care of your gear will save you a lot of time getting ready for the next campout.
Get a container for your camping gear - We have a camping tote. It’s a big plastic Rubbermaid tote that we keep the majority of our camping gear in. We also have a smaller tote that holds all of the smaller items we use when we go camping. These, along with a backpack for our dishes, make it very easy to centralize our gear. Whenever it is needed, we know just where to find it. And if you’re really organized you can create a list of the contents of each container so you remember what should be inside of each.
Packing lists – For the most part, you probably use a lot of the same gear when you go camping. This would allow you to make a generic packing list for your trips. If you have any unique items that you would be bringing on a particular campout, just add them to the bottom of the list. This is very easy to do and it will save you time when thinking about what you need to bring.
And so with that said, I need to go put together my ice blocks so they freeze solid before this weekend. Any other suggestions? Leave a comment.