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How to Plan for a Family Camping trip

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Ok, that’s it, you’re going to take the family camping. You have decided it is time. Summers here, the kids are out of school, the little lady looks like she could use some sun. So you’re getting out into the woods. So what now? You have been camping for 20 years how do you make plans when you want to go camping?

Making plans is like any other project or goal. Each project has smaller subprojects that have to individually be addressed. As you accomplish these you will be closer to your final goal of bliss in the arms of mother nature.

So let’s plan this trip out together. As far as I can tell there are about 4 main categories for planning a camping trip. These four subprojects are Transportation, Equipment, Food, and finally Entertainment. So, let’s tackle these one at a time.

The first thing you do is state your goal.

On the____day of ______ month of _____ year, I will be taking my family to _______________ so we can spend __________ days Camping

Yep, we are getting serious about this. This is a Smart Goal setup. If you don’t know what a SMART goal is you can read about it in my post about Goal setting. But if you don’t care to go there let me sum it up. A SMART goal is a goal that is Specific Measurable Attainable Relevant Time-bound.

This is very Specific.  We talk about what we are going to do and when. The Measurement is the smaller sub-projects we have listed. Is the campsite somewhere in the world correct? Then it is Attainable. Now if you were looking at camping on the moon then that is not very attainable so you get what I am saying. Our subgoals pertain to our ultimate goal, So that is Relevant. We have a deadline to get out of the house and be camping. That is your date. So it is Time-bound. So there you go a SMART goal in a nutshell.

So let’s get cracking

Equipment

How do you ensure that you have all the equipment you will need for a 3 day trip to White Water Sports in New Baunsfeld, TX? The first subproject for camping is finding out what equipment you will need.

Are you going to be camping in the summer or in the spring or fall seasons? This will help determine what equipment is needed for your trip. When it comes to camping you don’t need a whole lot of amenities. The very basic pieces you need is shelter, cooking utensils. That is it. Yet most folks want a few more comforts and each item you bring is a creature comfort. So gathering equipment is a balanced game. The more you bring the less space you have for your family members. The more you bring the more you have to keep up with at your campsite. Then you have to think of packing all that up when it is time to go home. You will be tired and want to get back to your Serta mattress.

So your camping list may start out huge but by the time you get the pickup loaded, you might find that you didn’t have room for all of it.

Let’s start with a list. There are several camping lists found online. I personally like the Mother of all Camping Lists but Gus. I used this list as a “What did I miss.” What you will need for your camping trip will fluctuate from the time of the year to who you are dragging along for the adventure and where you are pitching your tent.

Tent – How many people are camping with you? If there are 4 then a 4 person tent will work But if you are having a large group with you. You may opt for a larger 10 person tent. Make sure you have extra tent stakes and a mallet.

2 Tarps – These are the large blue plastic tarps you see flapping behind a trailer on the interstate. These are great for camping. You use one to set your tent on. This will keep sharp objects like rocks and sticks from poking through your tent. Then the other one is for the top of your tent if it rains. Tents have a tendency to leak. Even if they are sealed good they will eventually need the other waterproofing treatment. So an extra tarp always fits the bill.

Sleeping bags– Summertime bags will do good. If you are camping up in the Rockies or in the fall you may want to have a mummy bag for those nights that get a little extra chili.

Sleeping mat – If you are a tough rugged man that may be all you need. If you have the room you might look to a cot.  They don’t deflate like air mattresses do and will support that old man back you are getting.

Pillows– Yeah you want to rest your head on something.

Lights – Not just flashlights but lanterns too. You will want to be able to see where you are walking and a lantern in a tent is better than you using a cigarette lighter to find your shoes. Flashlights are good to have especially if each young’un has their very own. So have lanterns and flashlights.

First Aid Kit – Someone is going to get a boo-boo. It is good to have not only your medications handy but also your typical first aid kit. Make sure it is well stocked. Nothing words than have poison ivy rash forming and no calamine lotion.

Travel bag – This can be a backpack, a rucksack or a Duffle bag. You will need to have a few changes of clothes. Especially underwear. Young guys won’t have this problem as much but older guys crotches sweat and that sweat forms salt crystals that chafe. Not comfortable. Not to mention the order you will start producing after the second day of no shower. Yeah, it may be a fly repellant but it is also a people repellant too.

Water shoes – Now you may have an old pair of tennis shoes and those work great for walking around. But if you are in the water I would say get some water shoes. These are often thin nylon shoes with a good thick sole on them. This does a couple of things. The first is water shoes keep you from slipping. Second thing is that when in the water you don’t know if a fisherman has lost a lure or two in the rocks and would hate to catch a hook in the big toe.

Water shoes also dry faster and don’t stink. Unlike tennis shoes that once they get wet, they become stink bombs. My kids still remember a vacation where I wore wet shoes home from a trip and by the time we got home the shoes were tied to the top of the jeep and I was barefoot. So get some water shoes. And save your family’s life.

Knife – Have a good sharp knife or machete. You never know when you will need to cut something

Hatchet – This little axes can save you lots of time when you find that huge branch to put in the fire.

Lighter, Waterproof matches, Sparkers – You will need to have something you can use to start a fire. Unless you are wanting to do survival camping. Then find the best two sticks and get to rubbing. You want something that is waterproof because it could rain and the kids are wanting food.

Hat – Now if you are like me I don’t wear a hat. If I do my hair will mount a protest. Yet I do have a hat for when I go outside of an extended amount of time. This gives you a little shade and keeps the sun out of your eyes. That is the big thing. It also keeps stuff out of your hair.

Insect repellant– You don’t want to be bugged by bugs so make sure you have something with Deet at most. If you want to try some of the other less effective “Natural” products go ahead just don’t want you getting Lyme Disease cause tick wasn’t paying attention to your geranium flower based repellant.

Camp toilet – There are times that you may go way-way-way out in the boonies. You may not have a toilet at your ready. So you can do one of two things you can dig a latrine or you can have a camp toilet. Often this is a 5-gallon bucket and a heavy duty trash bag and pool noodle for comfort. However, you do it don’t leave a mess. reins dig deeper you can cover it all up. For bags Sad to say but don’t leave the bags. Pack them up and take it to a dumpster.

Trenching shovel – A shovel is a handy item to have around. Besides for digging a bathroom for the camp, you can dig up stuff and if you need to put dirt or something to keep the wind out. The humble shovel is a camp workhorse.

Sunscreen – Now we know that you need the sun to get vitamin D but too much of a good thing isn’t good either. and to keep the skin cancer to a minimum you want to have a good sunscreen that won’t sweat off or wash off in the water.

Paracord – It never fails you need to either tie something up off the ground like a lamp. Maybe the tent is needing to be tied to a tree. Paracord is the one stop shop of tieing thing up. So don’t forget to buy some paracord for those just in case moments

Soap – You don’t want to stink. your wife sure as heck doesn’t want to sleep by someone who would make sasquatch gag. So you want to make sure you have some soap for your shower.

Towels –  When you are wet you have everything sticks to you. So keep the dirt to a minimum by toweling off after that trip down the river.

Razors and shaving cream – Many guys like to come back from camping feeling wooly. If you are not that type of person then you won’t want to forget your razor kit.

Camp chairs – You can eith find a bunch of large logs everyone can sit in or you can bring some chairs that will fit your backside better. So bring some good camping chairs with you.

Transportation

When you are going camping you need to plan for the environment. If you are going someplace that is going to require 4×4 action you will not want to take the family truckster. But if you are going someplace that has dirt roads to your campsite then just about any vehicle will work.

The biggest thing about what vehicle you are using is that you need to know how much fuel you are going to be using. If you are renting a camper then fuel bill will go up. Yet you will not know exactly when. So make sure to ask the rental agency about how far a person can go on a tank of fuel. You also will want to make sure you know what type of fuel it takes. Does this camper take Deseil? You will want to make sure you have a good idea of the different fueling places around.

A fuel tip is to look for truck stops. Most campers can fit under the awning of the fueling stations but if you have a large diesel RV then a truck stop will always be the right hight. Also most of the Large chain truck stops like Love’s Flying J and Pilot have apps for your phone so you know where the closest travel stop is found.

Entertainment

Now Traveling anywhere with no fun objective is a business trip. You are going camping to have a good time, relax and for you to reconnect with your family. This is why you are bringing your family in the first place. So you need to ask what is there to do when you get to your camping spot. Now If you are way out in the middle of the Rockies. you may have the objective of hiking around the national parks and taking in all the glories that nature has provided you.

Then again if you are going to someplace like Whitewater Sports to go Tubing then you have your entertainment pretty much filled up. Yet it doesn’t hurt to pack up a few decks of cards for those times you want to play hearts or if you have several decks then you might get into a rousing game of Hand and Foot.

You will also want to be able to entertain the kids if they are not simply exhausted from walking all over the countryside or bobbing in the River. Then the extra flashlights can come in handy so the tweens can take care of themselves and play flashlight tag.

Another entertainment piece is while traveling to your destination. Stop by those tourist traps. Go see the largest ball of twine. Take your time getting to your destination. If you are wondering what is on the way the SIte Atlas Obscura has a map that shows the locations of all 13,000 coolest places to check out. You will be amazed at what is on the way.

Food

You are going to have to eat. even if it is a day trip kids get hungry and they don’t eat they get hangry, and we do not want those little angels miffed cause they want some grub. So don’t forget to pack the food.

For the camp, you will need

Plates and silverware – you can get disposable if you want. Yet, know that you will have to cart the trash to the dumpster if you do. So you might invest in some washable plates and silverware. Now, this will up the water consumption a bit. Yet that is negligible compared to 5 large trash bags that have forks poking holes in them.

Water – Its the best no-calorie drink in all the world, and is needed. You and your crew will be consuming water often. Now you can find a natural place to drink from if you like. You will want to have at least some type of sanitizing solution for those members who are germaphobes. If they aren’t then you can find a mountain stream that is some of the best tasting water around.

If you are in a place where you will have to cart in your own water then remember that most people are supposed to drink eight glasses of water. Those glasses are also 8 ounces. So 64 ounce per person per day. Now if it is hot that level will likely increase. Activity levels also will increase that amount. I would recommend that you have 128oz or one gallon of water per person for each day you are out. Then you have to also include washing yourself and dishes. So 5 gallons of water per day person for hygiene. From there you’re going to have dishes and cleaning as you go and that can be any extra water you have left over from the day.

So for a family of 5 out for 2 days is 10 gallons of drinking water. 25 Gallons for showering. and 5 for washing. Therefore you will need to look at bringing about 40-50 gallons of water with you.

Drinking cups – unless the drinking water is in bottles. But then you have more trash you have to carry back.

Cooler – Not only is it for any beer and cokes you want to bring but it is also for any perishable foods. They will keep as long as the cooler stays cool which for a weekend is pretty easy.

Dry food – These are can goods like beans and the such. A camp isn’t a camp without some good music after eating a big helping of beans. Besides boys will be entertained for the rest of the night.

This is also covered bread and other items that don’t have to be refrigerated. like beef jerky. Great high protein snack that will keep the hunger at bay

Can opener – if you have can don’t forget this puppy or you will be looking up the 101 ways to open a can cause I was a dumb ass.

Fruits and vegetables – Yes been falling under this but having an apple to snack on is good for ya and the kids normally like apples and peaches grapes and the like. fruits and vegetables don’t actually have to be refrigerated. Yes, they will spoil faster when they are exposed to heat but they don’t have to be.

So there you go a bigger more fleshed out camping checklist for you. I will be working on a list so that you can download and check off when you pack up both to and from the campsite. So that the security blanket doesn’t get left behind. Happy camping and take lots of pictures share them with the community on Facebook The Relaxed Outdoor Camper. If you are not in our facebook group then Come on in our camping enthusiasts would like to meet you.

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