Camping tips & tricks
You may have noticed that we like to camp…A LOT! It is so fun, but it’s a ton of work and I was not okay with how much work it was! I’ve devised a system to make it more doable and the key is to only do it once. I do all my work when we get home from our trip, so when we want to go again – we are already ready. All we have to grab is our clothes, toiletries, and perishable food.
This is a little easier now because we have a pop up trailer, but it wasn’t always like that. When we first were married we had two big Tupperwares that we kept all of our camping gear in. When we wanted to go camping all we had to do was grab those two Tupperware, food, clothes and we were out the door. We had everything in there. Our tent, sleeping bags, camping stove, lantern, tarp, dishes… When we would come home from camping I would wash it all and then pack it back up so it was ready to go.
I do this with our food too. Every spring before our first trip I get our picnic basket out and stock it. Hot cocoa packets, marshmallows, chocolate, cobbler fixings, new lighters, baby wipes, glow sticks, syrup,and paper goods.
I also buy a new little mustard, A-1, ketchup, and mayo. I keep these in the back of my fridge until its time to camp and then I throw them in our cooler. When I get home from camping I replenish them from our main bottles and put them back into the back. Its so easy and we may not use them every time but I am always prepared. This is what our basket looked like on our first trip:
I’ve left the paper goods in the trailer (you could use your Tupperware if you don’t have a trailer) and now when I get home I just replenish what we have used right away and then tuck our basket in our laundry room all ready to go again. Here is what it looks like now:
I am already ready for hot cocoa, lemonade, s’mores, cobbler, and pancakes. No last minute gathering. We don’t always use everything in the basket and I only have to replenish what we have used.
I also wash the dishes we have used really well in our dishwasher and then wash any linens we have. When they are all washed I pop the trailer back up, add them all back in, mop and wipe it down, refill our wood Tupperware and lint, then close it back up. I do this right after we get home when I’m still doing all of the other work and laundry from our trip. This way I know I’m already ready to go. No last minute packing and I forget a lot less things now than I use to! It is a little more work when we get home but I would rather just do it once.
One other thing I pack with the wood is laundry lint!
Do you think I’m crazy??? I’m promise, I’m not! This is the best fire starter out there! I keep a little pot on the shelf by our dryer and anytime I clean the lint tray I just add it to the pot. Then when I am packing the wood back up, I refill our lint bag. Its such great fire starter!
Do you feel overwhelmed with where to start with gear? Just take it slow and be resourceful and soon you will be fully equip to camp! First you have to have a tent, or other sleeping accommodations. We found our tent at a yard sale for $5. You also have to have bedding. Sleeping bags are not always necessary. We didn’t have enough at one point and we just used blankets.
Most of our other camping gear at one point was just leftover household items. We got a new set of pans, so my old ones became my camping pans. Same with measuring spoons and cups. Once I got new ones I put the old ones in our camping gear. I’ve also done this with linens like blankets, towels, and washcloths. If you are going to get rid of something, first think if you could use it in your camping gear. You can also go to garage sales to find most of what you would need to camp.
Other things that can be easy to forget: wood, a lighter, something to start your fire with, a hammer for staking your tent, a good pair of work gloves, camping chairs if you have them, a shovel, baby wipes, depending on where you are going you might need to bring water, and always bring a spare roll of toilet paper
Here is a list of some of my favorite camping gear. Don’t let this list intimidate you. You don’t have to have all of this gear. These are just things we have collected over the years that we really love.
- Propane Lantern- I use to be afraid of it, but now its my favorite! I will never go back to batteries!
- Camping Commode - Laugh at me now, thank me later!
- Tent Fan
- 3-Piece Cast Iron Skillet Set - I inherited these from my parents and love them!
- Adjustable Marshmallow Roasting Sticks - They are more expensive but so worth the extra money to keep kiddos farther from the fire.
- Hot Cocoa Mugs - My splurge this year! We eat pretty much every meal out of them now as well as Hot Cocoa.
- Plastic Mesh Scrubber - These are so versatile for cleaning anything and everything, and they last forever!
- Dutch Oven - the best!!!
- MAGLITE Mini Flashlight - Ive stopped wasting money on other flashlights. The maglites we have, have lasted us forever!
- Tri-Fold Shovel - Folds up so small! A shovel is always handy either to level the area you are going to put your tent, or for digging a fire pit, and for getting coals out of the fire to cook under and on top of your dutch oven.
- Uno - we also bring playing cards and they keep us busy for hours!
- Propane Stove - These are nice to have and we really like ours. It really isn’t necessary though- you can cook completely over a fire
- 7 Gallon Rigid Water Container - This is a great water container. The lid unscrews to turn around and becomes a spigot.
Camping gear I am crushing on:
- This kettle!!! – I already have a kettle but I had one that that looked just like this as a little girl in my dollhouse furniture
- Dutch Oven Lid Lifter - I’m tired of using a hammer or burning my fingers
- Portable Folding Hammock - nuff said!
- Campfire Grill - this would help our foil dinners cook so much more evenly
- 5-Gallon Cooler - It would be nice to have our drinking water and washing water separate so we aren’t using our drinking water for washing dishes and hands.
- Wheeled Cooler