Do you feel that? Warmth. Sunshine. There may be piles of snow on the ground, but for the first time in months I didn’t freeze my butt off at the bus stop this morning. I know that winter is far from over, but I’ll take whatever little victories I can get. Currently 0 degrees and sunny is a win.
I’ve been searching my way through Pinterest this morning, looking for some new ideas to pack for camping. We’ve had our method of packing down to an art for several years now – a routine simple and familiar enough that we could probably wake up one morning, decide to go camping, and manage to be on the road by lunchtime with no pre-planning or prep work. Packing for a camping trip was about as easy as it could get. Except now, we’ve thrown a wrench in the whole routine, because a few weeks ago we decided to get rid of our mini van. While I absolutely *love* my new truck, we’ve had to look at how we plan to pack and prepare for summer holidays. Things will have to change, from getting rid of our drawer-style food containers and needing a shorter cooler to figuring out a new bike rack system.
Which brings me back to my Pinterest search this morning.
Usually I love Pinterest. Today, it’s left me exhausted. Articles for packing lists, equipment guides, camping recipes and activities are overwhelming my screen. Lists that encourage bringing everything but the kitchen sink, and lists with every high tech gadget you can get an affiliate link for, being touted as a “must-have”.
Is it just me? I always thought that camping was supposed to be a more laid back, relaxed family vacation. One where you don’t have your days planned down to the minute, your kids daily activities organized weeks in advance and your slow cooker and mini microwave aren’t both plugged in on the picnic table. (I’m serious about the microwave)
I’ve definitely come across some useful camping hacks. I’ve found a few gems amongst the gear reviews and affiliate links. And we are not, by a long shot, light on packing when we take a road trip. It’s also been years since we’ve tent camped – while my husband and I have both spent more than our far share of time camping in a tent, our little old pop up trailer is a luxury for sleeping in both the rain and the cold with small children.
I guess I just feel that if I were going camping for the first time, a lot of these articles are, well, misleading. Or not helpful. Half the stuff I’m reading is encouraging you to spend too much money. The other half is encouraging you to do things that will end up costing you time, take too much effort and that will probably make you too stressed out to enjoy your camping trip.
In my frustration with what I’ve found today, I haven’t figured out how we are going to pack the truck when we go camping. But I have come up with several DO NOT camping tips that will hopefully make your camping experience a little less stressful, a little more simple, and hopefully, a lot more enjoyable.
6 DO NOTs for Your First Camping Trip
1. DO NOT over-plan mealtimes. Who wants to spend their entire time over the camping stove while everyone else is enjoying themselves? Keep most meals quick and easy and save the larger and more time-consuming meals for once a day or every other day. If you go all out for breakfast one morning, don’t be afraid to stick with simple campfire hot dogs or pie irons for dinner.
2. DO NOT spend all your time before the trip planning and organizing all sorts of fancy activities for your kids. While there are definitely some cool printables and camp games to be found online, don’t go overboard. In fact, we often find that many of the toys we pack remain untouched. During downtime on the campsite, let your kids make their own adventures – you’d be surprised at how creative they get and the things they come up with using what’s around them, like sticks, rocks and dirt.
3. DO NOT get sucked in by all the fancy gadgets. Really. You don’t need them and will manage just fine without. Stick with the basics and figure out camping first. After your first trip or two, then you’ll start to know which gadgets will actually make your life easier, and which ones are will just take up space.
4. DO NOT pick a random packing list off the internet. At least, don’t pick just one. Packing lists can be useful, but they aren’t tailored to you. Choose a few lists, combine them, then use them to create your own personalized list.
5. DO NOT bring stuff you don’t know how to use. Take it out, set it up, practice using it – all before you arrive at the campsite.
6. DO NOT forget that camping is supposed to be fun, enjoyable and relaxing. If you’re spending literally weeks leading up to your trip trying to pack and plan and meal prep, it’s time to simplify. If you’re spending your time at the campground stressed out, exhausted, rushing and busy, it’s time to slow down and take a look at what’s going wrong. This is supposed to be a FUN and awesome experience!
When I started writing this post, I didn’t really know where I was going with it. I was just venting my frustrations, and I was pretty sure I wouldn’t end up posting it. I was frustrated that the informative articles were buried under loads of unpractical posts, and with the amount of gift guide-style articles I was finding when it comes to camping tips. But as I wrote, my thoughts started to organize and the vent that I’ve written above has actually spurred some new ideas that I’m super excited about. This post has now become the lead up to a short series I’m planning about making family camping simple. The series will be a little more organized and less ranty than this – I promise! Keep an eye out for Part 1 of Family Camping Made Simple!
Thanks so much for stopping by! I often post about my 101 challenge and my outdoor adventure with the kids with the hashtags #101in1001 #101adventures or #whatmattersmost. You can join me on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest. Or, you can follow me on Bloglovin or subscribe via e-mail to be alerted to each new post!