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Years ago, when my husband first suggested that we go on a family camping trip, I was not really sure what to expect. I had never camped, other than a couple of nights in the back yard. I was overwhelmed at the thought of packing everything, a little scared about the bathroom situation, and nervous about sleeping on the ground.
I was also excited. It was a new adventure and a chance to make memories with my children. Plus it was, a great opportunity for one of my favorite outdoor activities: hiking.
We had a lot of fun that first trip and have continued to camp over the years. We have had some mishaps (like the night our tent leaked in a big thunderstorm and we ended up crammed into our van for the night.)
However, we have made some wonderful memories and while the hard ground is not my favorite, I will always be grateful for our camping trips.
Along the way, I learned a few tricks that can really make camping a lot easier and reduce the stress of it all!
First, make sure to have a meal plan. When you make your plan you need to consider a few factors. Will you have electricity (some sites have a power source)? Will you have a grill or fire ring? How much time do you want to devote to meals (cooking over a fire can be a lengthy process)? Will you be spending your time at the campsite or out doing other activities?
Your meals can be as simple as packing a cooler with sandwich supplies, milk, and cereal. If there is power, you can bring ingredients and put a meal in your Instant pot. You can get a camp stove and cook dinner that way or cook over the fire.
When we have the time, my favorite camping meal is chicken fajitas cooked over the fire. We put chicken breasts on a grate on the fire, onions and peppers in foil on the fire, and bring along all of our favorite toppings.
Whatever you choose, just make sure you are prepared. You don’t want to be worried about leaving the site every time you want a meal.
When we first started camping it was a lot of work to get ready to go. Not only did I need to pack clothes for myself and the children, but we had to remember everything we needed for meal, bathroom emergencies, bedding, etc.
It did not take too long before we figured out that camping would be a lot less stressful if we had a way to keep some of those supplies together. My husband purchased a large plastic footlocker which we call the cook box.
While we do not store actual food in the box, we keep our camping dishes, utensils, a small cook stove, travel sized spice boxes, lighters, hot cocoa (priorities), foil, napkins, and other essentials in the box. This way I have a lot less to remember when we are packing.
A quick note on camping dishes. We like our enamelware dishes that are similar to the ones linked above, but you really do not have to have special dishes. I find it so much easier to have an extra set so you don’t have to pack them every time, but you could find a cheap set at a yard sale.
We also took the time to put our tents, sleeping bags, iso mats, and other supplies together on a shelf in our garage. Right beside the shelf are our camping chairs. By having everything together, it takes a lot less time to pack and we are less likely to forget something important.
Don’t Over Plan Activities
We camp for a variety of purposes. Sometimes we are camping as a cheap way to travel. For example, we might be going on a field trip in the area. We can often get a campsite for about $20 compared to closer to $100 for a hotel room.
In those instances, I keep food super simple and our activities are dictated by the reason for the trip.
However, sometimes we are camping just to camp and spend time with family away from the hustle and bustle of life. If you are camping just to enjoy the experience make sure you do not over plan your activities.
It is fine to plan a hike or a few activities that you want to enjoy. However, I learned that if I planned too much it was stressful and we ended up finding ourselves in a different hustle and bustle.
State and National Parks
The last trick that I want to share with you today is to look for state and national parks. We have found that some of the easiest (and cheapest) places to camp are state and national parks. They tend to have good restroom facilities, available water, security, and great access to hiking trails and other natural amenities.
Each park varies in what it offers, so make sure to check ahead to see what they have. Making reservations upfront can help you get a site that will work for your family. We always try to get one relatively close to the bathhouse and with as much privacy as possible.
Do you enjoy camping? If you have questions about camping, leave them in the comments? If you enjoy camping, tell us your favorite tips and tricks! Also be sure to check out what other Review Crew Members had to say about camping!
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