Planning a camping trip should be a fun and exciting endeavor. Whether you’re going with just a friend or two, your whole family, or a bigger group, there are a few things to keep in mind when getting prepared for your perfect camping trip. There are so many options available that narrowing it down to the type of camping trip that you want to go on is important to keep in mind.
What We'll Cover
- Choose the Style of Camping
- Choose the Location
- Plan Activities
- Choose a Date
- Packing for a Camping Trip
- Have Fun While Camping!
Here are some tips for narrowing down to a camping trip that fits your wants and needs.
Choose the Style of Camping
The style of camping is one of the first aspects that you need to decide when camping. How you want to camp will have an impact on where you can go camping, too. Some people may only think of the traditional, tent-style camping when they hear of a camping trip, but the truth is that there are a lot more options available nowadays. Below are a few of the camping styles that you can choose from for your next trip.
One way to camp that may be easiest for those that may not have the essentials such as a tent, and especially easier those with a big enough vehicle, is car camping!
In some SUVs, vans, or trucks, you may have enough space to put down the seats and sleep right in the backseat and trunk area of the vehicle, or in the bed of a truck for some outdoor vibes, sleeping under the stars.
You can get some mattress pads, an air mattress, or sleep directly on the floor of your vehicle. Whichever you choose, make sure that you will be cozy and have enough room to sleep comfortably inside your vehicle. Having a few extra goodies such as shades for your windows will help you to have a bit more privacy as well.
You can even purchase a portable awning to attach to your vehicle for some shade, or if you want to be even more prepared, you can get a rooftop car tent, or another tent made to attach right to your vehicle. The rooftap tents typically attach to the roof of your vehicle and have a ladder to climb up and down. This gives you more space in your surroundings, since you don’t need room next to your car to pitch a tent.
Make sure that if you choose this option, you check that the place you are planning to tent allows car camping, or determine if you need any permits to park in a location, as not all campsites or places that allow camping do allow car camping.
RV Camping is almost the most luxurious way to camp on our list, and is defintely a great option for someone who may not want to get as down and dirty with good old fashioned camp tenting but still wants to experience the great outdoors. Depending on the size and cost of the RV that you camp with, you will have access to amentities you don’t get with car camping or tent camping.
With an RV, you will have a bed to sleep on, and most likely a bathroom and some sort of kitchen, too. This means that you don’t have to worry about finding bathrooms, and you can cook and prepare meals that you typically won’t be able to do by using just a campfire. Even if your RV doesn’t have a kitchen, you have more storage space to bring a camping grill and other amentities. You can keep your RV stocked with all of your camping essentials so that you are ready to pick up and go in your RV, whether it is driveable itself or can be easily hitched to your vehicle.
Tent camping is fun for all ages. With tent camping, the options of where you can camp are usually more inclusive than if you want to go camping with any of the other options on this list. You can find a campground to camp at, or even go backpacking and pitch a tent in a beautiful area anywhere.
There are a variety of tents available, in many shapes and sizes, so make sure to do some research on the type of tent that you’d like and will fit your future needs for all of your camping trips. Whether you choose a canopy tent or a cabin tent will affect how you sleep at night, so you want to make the right choice. You’ll also want to check that you have all of your camping essentials with you as you go tent camping, since this it typically a more bare-bones approach to camping.
For example, how are you going to sleep in the tent? Do you want an air mattress or mattress pads? What about sleeping bags, blankets, and pillows? Make your entire camping list checklist for items that you will need to include with your tent.
“Glamping” is a newer way of camping that has gained popularity over the last few years. This word is a combination of “glamorous camping,” and is a great option for people who typically do not like camping in the traditional sense.
Usually to go glamping, you will find a campground that is made just for this purpose. It makes for less work on your end, since the glamping sites offer a lot of amentities for you.
Glamping sites may have an airstream, yurt, tent, teepee, cottage, or other more “fancy” type of place to stay and sleep in, including a full on mattress for sleeping. They are much more luxurious and have more amentities than you’d have on any other camping trip. They are perfect for a more upscale romantic getaway or trip with friends.
Choose the Location
There are a variety of options available for camping, and each may also depend on type of camping that you want to do.
A quick search of campgrounds in your area will help you decide where to go camping. Most campgrounds allow camp tenting, and some may also be open for RV camping or car camping. You may have to book your stay at a campground well in advance, so it takes a bit more planning to accomplish a successful trip for a certain time. It may be easier to find camping spots open on weekdays at a campground if your schedule allows you to do so. If you want to go camping with your dog, make sure the campground allows pets before booking your reservation.
Depending on where you live, you may have a few National Parks nearby, or close enough to road trip to. Before camping at a National Park, you will have to make sure there is availability and book your stay for certain dates. With over 100 places to choose from, you should have a beautiful space to camp by visiting any of these locations.
The National Park Service (NPS) has a website where you can browse all available locations that allow camping, so get to planning and choose the park that best suits you and that you haven’t visited yet. Yellowstone, Joshua Tree, Grand Canyon, Great Smoky Mountains, and Yosemite are some of our favorites.
If all else fails, a fun backyard tent camping adventure is always fun, too!
Pitch a tent in your yard, bring out the sleeping bags and make a campfire to roast some s’mores and make your backyard into an outdoor oasis. It is a trip close to home that won’t cost much money and gets you out of the house for a different vibe and fun experience with those closest to you.
While camping, you want to have an idea of the type of daytime activities that you’ll want to enjoy in the location you’re camping in! Depending where you camp, there are some activities that will or will not be available. Make sure that the location you choose to camp is conducive to allow you to do the activities that you most want to experience while on your camping trip.
If you are camping near a body of water like a lake or ocean, you can bring your own kayaks or see if the place you are camping offers rentals to enjoy some kayaking. Ocean kayaking, lake kayaking, or even white water kayaking for those on the more adventerous and experienced side are all some fun daytime activities out on the water.
Having a campfire is a quintessential part of camping, which you can do at most all places that you will camp! Whether you are at a campsite with a fire setup ready for you, or if you have to create your own, a campfire is a perfect place to sit around in the evening and nighttime for fire, warmth, cooking, and fun! Make sure to be smart and prepared with your campfire and know how to properly put it out in order to avoid forest fires or possibly injure anyone, and remember to always be safe.
An out-of-the-box activity that you can put together if camping with a group of people is a fun scavenger hunt! You can look online for some ideas and templates, or come up with the hunt on your own. A scavenger hunt is an especially fun idea when camping with kids, to give them an activity to focus on. It is a fun way to explore the space that you are camping in, and to discover wildlife, plants, and other outdoor objects and wildlife that you may not come across elsewhere.
Going for a hike is another easy, yet fun way to get up and explore the place that you are camping in. If there are no mountains or places for an actual hike where you are camping, even a trail walk will do. Most campsites around the National Parks have some great hiking with spectacular views to take in once you reach the top of the summit.
Another activity to do if you are camping by a body of water is fishing. Make sure to bring your fishing poles and other equipment, or check if the campground provides rentals and allows fishing on premises. It is important to check if you’ll need any permits to go fishing and the spots that allow fishing, too, as well as any other rules regarding keeping your fish, or catch-and-release.
While caving is a fairly uncommon activity, if you find that your campsite is near a cave, you should try spelunking. Just make sure you have all the proper gear first—you don’t want to try going into a cave without things like a flashlight and protective gear for your hands and knees. Caving is also a better activity for teens and adults, so it’s better to pass this one up if you have younger kids.
Choose a Date
Pick a date with great weather that will provide for a great camping trip. Since many places that you may decide to camp may require a reservation, you’ll have to decide ahead of time when and where to camp, and stick with that date for a wonderful vacation! Plus, camping is a lot of fun in any season. Don’t feel like you are required to go camping in summer.
Packing for a Camping Trip
Going camping requires a bit of preparation, as you need to be prepared with your essentials to survive in the great outdoors. Depending on the type of camping trip that you choose, as well as where you decide to camp, you may need more or less to pack. Below is a simple list of some of the things you’ll need to make sure to bring with you on your camping trip.
Food and Water
There’s most likely no full kitchen or restaurant to eat and drink at when camping. Bring enough water for everyone for the allotted timeframe that you will be camping, as well as food to snack on and cook. Make sure that you have bear canisters for all of your food so that it stays fresh and does not attract any wild animals. Have a good camping cooler and ice for any food items that need to stay refrigerated, such as meats and dairy products. Bottled water, or a water filtration device, can also be helpful.
Be prepared for all types of weather when going camping! Make sure to do enough research about the area you will be camping in, as some places can go from one extreme temperature to another. It is always better to be prepared with many layers of clothing in case you will be extremely hot or cold. While you don’t want to overpack, you want to be prepared and comfortable for any activities you will be doing on your trip, as well as for the many weather conditions that are possible.
Depending on the type of camping trip that you are going on, you need to have appropriate sleeping arrangements. For example, do you need camping cots or an air mattress for your tent or car? How many blankets, pillows, or what type of sleeping bag will you need depending on the weather at night? Ensure that you have the necessities when it comes to being comfortable enough to get sufficient rest.
Toiletries are another category of items that you may or may not have to bring with you for your specific camping trip. If you decide to camp on a campground with running water and bathrooms available, you may not need items such as toilet paper and soap, but you’ll still need your toothbrush, toothpaste, and other essentials for staying clean and comfortable. Make sure you are thorough in what you may need in emergencies, too.
Have Fun While Camping!
Hopefully these camping vacation tips helped you to get an idea of the types of things to think about and be aware of when planning your next camping trip. While there are many options to choose from for the camper in you, it is important to note the type of trip that you want to take, and the overall experience you are ready to have.