Here in the mid-Atlantic, temperatures are well into the 90s with the heat index over 100 degrees. While this probably isn’t anyone’s ideal camping weather, many of us have made plans well in advance and this is THE week to go camping with family and friends. I previously posted tips specifically geared towards beach camping. You can find that post here. So here is my list of:
10 12 Tips to Make Everyone A Happy Camper
My very first camp site as an adult, September 13, 2011.
1. Make a Camping Checklist.
Use this checklist every time you are preparing to camp.
You can find a comprehensive camping checklist here. Tailor this list to your needs. Buy the best you can afford. If you are test driving the idea of camping, borrow a friends’ gear before investing in your own, or obtain affordable camping gear from yard sales.
I am a big believer in keeping my camping equipment separate and tucked away from my household stuff. I learned early on, that it is best to invest in separate dishes, pots and pans (you don’t need many) and cutlery. I have one cast iron skillet, one pot, one pan, and my dutch oven. Everyone just needs one plate, fork, knife, spoon and cup. I also have a separate supply of spices, olive oil, etc. that I keep in the kitchen but in an upper cupboard so when I’m going over my checklist of camping supplies, I remember to grab that container. Keep that equipment in airtight containers:
2. Bring at least two tarps.
In my humble opinion, you can’t ever have enough tarps. They are inexpensive and versatile and can be used as a shade shelter, as a ground cover, as a cover to protect from rain, to block the wind, under the tent to protect it from rain, and also to extend out past the opening of the tent to provide a place to keep the dirt and/or sand out of your tent. The tarp pictured below is 5’x7′ and costs $5.97 from Walmart. As you can see in the photo above, I placed my tarp right outside my tent and then put out a mat to wipe my feet on, a dust broom to minimize the sand on my tarp, and a place for my shoes.
3. Invest in a shade shelter tent.
This is my 12’x12′ shade shelter, and it provides shade, keeps the bugs out while still allowing for a nice breeze, and offers an alternative to being in the tent.
4. Plan Meals and Do As Much Meal Prep As Possible At Home
Plan your meals and then do as much meal prep ahead of time as possible. Cut vegetables, make burgers and freeze them, scramble eggs and store in airtight container (then no worries about breakage). Put bread in containers so it doesn’t get crushed, or better yet, use tortillas and make wraps. I am a big believer in making simple meals when camping. I love individual foil pack meals. Everything goes into a heavy duty foil, and cook it on the grill or over your campfire. You can find foil pack recipes here, and here. Invest in a dutch oven and use coals on the top and bottom to create a make-shift oven. Instructions can be found here. You can buy a dutch oven here. Make sure the oven has legs on the bottom so the pot can sit over the coals and not directly on them.
5. Reserve a site with electricity (if possible).
Having a site with electricity makes all the difference. No worries about charging electronics, or making a cup of coffee, or making a great meal in the crockpot. If the weather is chilly, you can plug in a heater to keep warm. Don’t forget the power strip, so you can plug in your electronics. Unfortunately, many National Park campgrounds do not provide electricity for any of their campsites. Check ahead, and plan accordingly.
If I am camping in a place without electricity, I take a Powerverter with me so that I can charge my cell phone in the car.
6. Invest in a Portable Gas Grill and Propane Stove.
Cooking over a campfire sounds awesome, and it is, when the weather cooperates. When it doesn’t, having a grill and a stove that operates off of propane can be a life saver. Even so, in windy conditions, food takes longer to cook, even when you are using a fuel source.
7. Set up a hand washing station at the campsite.
This is a collapsible 5 gallon water jug, which you can use for washing dishes and washing your hands . You can purchase one here.
8. Make your tent cozy.
This goes for ANY camping trip. I’m too old to sleep on the ground. I invested in an air mattress which goes on TOP of my cot. As you see in the photo below, I take one of my plastic containers that I store my camping stuff in and when I empty the container at my campsite, I use it as a nightstand.
Investing in a small set of stackable plastic drawers also helps to keep your tent neat and organized:
A ghost crab visiting the screen house.
9. Store Food in Your Car, Not in Your Tent.
There are always critters wandering around our campsites, especially at night. I once had vultures ransack my spices that I had left out on the picnic table.
If I have to hike in and leave the car in a parking lot, I secure my cooler under the picnic table seat, and put dry goods in a locker type container (the red ones shown above) that latch closed so they can’t be opened by wandering critters.
10. Keep bathhouse items in a nylon tote.
They hold a ton of stuff all in one place. When I venture to the bath house, I grab my tote, and I wear a clean loose fitting dress there, shower, dry off and put the same dress back on.
11. Have a Plan B in Case It Rains, Or Is Really Hot or Cold
Bring along things to keep you busy when it rains or when it’s just too hot to exert yourself physically. A deck of cards, portable board games, coloring books, crayons, art supplies, etc.
12. The Best Investment I Ever Made for My Tent
The Luggable Loo. Buy buy yours here.
Because who feels like going to the bath house in the middle of the night? Trust me on this one, and just go and buy one. It has a thick plastic liner with deodorizer that folds up and seals and you just toss it in the morning.
A few other things I bring:
- Mat outside tent
- Mat inside tent
- Feather duster for feet before you put them in your sleeping bag
- Clothing to repel biting flies, and mosquitoes
- Battery operated clock
- Ear plugs (so I don’t hear the critters creeping around outside my tent)
Hope this helps you the next time you go camping.