Friday, July 25, 2014

10 Car Camping Tips

When the kids were growing up we did a lot of camping. It was cheap, fun and got their energy out. We kept it simple, but always had a great time. When my father died in a car accident, the weekend after the funeral we were up in the mountains camping. It gave our family some time to ourselves, to be together, to reflect and be away from the distractions of the rest of the world. I think that's the thing I love the most about camping and hiking - the peace. Here are 10 tips to help make your next camping trip a success.

1. Water
The beauty of car camping is  you don't have to worry about weight, as you won't be carrying any of your gear. You will just be backing into the spot and living out of the back of your car. Having extra water is great. Water for drinking, cooking, washing, brushing teeth, first aid: your life will be much more comfortable and enjoyable if you have lots of water.

2. First Aid Kit
It sounds like a no-brainer, but a lot of times people forget this one simple step. Especially if you are camping with kids who are notorious for skinning knees and burning fingers. Also think beyond that: stinging nettles, bee stings, sun burns and stickers in hands are all things we have had to deal with on a camping trip. Make sure your first aid kit is amply stocked and in an easy to get to place.

3. Food, Food, Food
Again, you have your car. This is not a backpacking trip where you have to think space and weight. Happy campers and well fed campers, especially if you are camping with teen-age boys. Have well designed meals, snacks and treats on hand. Think about every utensil and tool you will need to prepare said meals, and serve them. No one wants pancakes without the syrup that you forgot..... yup, been there done that! Leading up to your trip, make a running list. Every time you think of even the smallest thing you will need to make your meals better - Ketchup for the hotdogs - write it down. Go through that check list as you pack for your weekend.

4. Air Mattress
Need I say more? Make this as comfortable as possible. Bring all the luxuries you can fit into that little trunk of yours. An air mattress with ensure you have a fighting chance at getting enough sleep. And while we are on the subject of sleep, bring LOTS of blankets! Even if it's summer and 100 degrees outside, it can get cold at night. Better to have them and not need them, than to wake up at 2:00 in the morning because you are so cold you can't sleep any more.

5. Size Matters
When car camping, you can afford to bring a roomy tent. Invest in a tent that has adequate room for the amount of people who will be sleeping in it. When camping with the kids, our tent was big enough that we could fit two queen size mattresses in it, and still have room to stand and change and do the cha-cha. The extra room will make you so much more comfortable!

6. Keep the noise Down
One of my BIG pet peeves. You are up in the mountains to enjoy a little peace and quiet. You want to become one with nature and bond with your family.......... the next thing you know the guy two spaces down from you is blaring his car radio and sharing his music for the entire campsite to enjoy. Not cool! Please, please remember that there are other people around you. Enjoy yourself, but be courteous to those other people. Keep your noise to a minimum, and at night even more so. 

7. Don't Forget The Boy Scout Fire Water
We all want to be successful, awesome outdoors men. Gathering your firewood (from the back of your car of course ;o), building your fire pit up, and with one strike of a match - roaring fire. But, on the off chance it doesn't work, you are going to have some very  unhappy campers if they can't sit around a fire as the sun goes down, and the temperature with it. Just bring the silly lighter fluid just in case. You probably won't need it, being as camping savvy as you are, but just in case.......

There is a saying that I'm sure you have all heard about us Pacific Northwest Campers - The Blue Tarp Campers. If you can't look at the blue sky, at least you can look up and see the beautiful blue tarp. Plan for all contingencies, and bring tarps to put over your tent and eating area at least. It is also great for areas that have a lot of sun, because it will give you a shady place to sit. Tarps are great, have at least one or two in your camping arsenal.

9. Bring Lots of Firewood.
Most places you camp do not allow you to gather fire wood. If every camper did that ever weekend for the entire camping season there would be no forest left. Of course, they have firewood for sale, but it is usually expensive. With any extra room  you have in your car, fill it will your own firwood.

10. Throw in the Cards
One of our favorite things to do after dinner is to sit around the table and play games. Usually we have just spent the entire day hiking, swimming and exploring, so we are ready to have a relaxing evening. Games are a great way to do this and give you some great family time. Something as simple as just throwing in a deck of cards can bring a couple hours of quiet, relaxing fun.

Happy Camping!!

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