Looking to get in the world of car camping?
Hold it there my friend, you have a lot to learn.
Luckily for you, I am about to put together 10 highly important things you should know as an aspiring car camper.
I have learned throughout my years of camping some things that every newbie should know before embarking on their journey into the unknown.
1. The size of your tent matters
The more you camp the sooner you will realize that every new tent you purchase doesn’t have enough space.
Tents are rated for people if they lie down like sardines. The easiest way to combat this is by purchasing a bigger tent than you first wanted.
You’ll want to go two sizes up from your original size.
So if you want a 2-person tent, you’ll probably want a 4 instead. The extra room is good for storage. I go into more detail about tent sizes in this article.
I highly recommend you check it out if you’re still confused.
2. You don’t need to take the whole house with you
When you finish your camping trip, get back home and unpack, you’ll notice you probably only used HALF of what you packed.
This wastes time packing and unpacking, and makes it more difficult when you’re trying to get the gear you actually need.
Basically, you’re wasting your own time and stressing yourself out because you are constantly losing things and unable to locate your items quickly, quietly and efficiently.
What to do instead? Make a checklist and take items you will actually use.
So take your time with this step, actually think about if you will use the item or not rather than just throwing it in the back of the trunk anyway.
3. Your campsite should feel as homey as possible
More often than not you’ll be staying at the campsite for at least two days, so you’ll want to make it feel as homey as possible.
The more homey it feels, the more comfortable and happy you will be. You will enjoy the camping trip a lot more as a result.
Heck, if it’s going to be you and your families place of refuge for a couple of days, you should at least set it up how you like it, and don’t let your husband tell you otherwise 😛
4. More people means more relaxation time for everyone
I get everyone involved on my camping trips now.
The more people there is, the more hands to help and the faster things get done!
It’s so simple yet so overlooked by many camp goers.
The hardest part about this is trying to get people on the camping trip at the same time.
Everyone’s always working these days, it’s hard trying to catch a break.
5. You’ll almost definitely forget something even with a checklist
Do know this – you will forget at least one thing on almost every camping trip, and most of the time it’s an item you can’t go without.
Either you’ll forget to write it on your checklist, or you’ll have it ready, check it off and then forget to put it in the car.
Even to this day people that have camped for 40+ years still forget things.
I just wanted to give you a heads up before the inevitable does happen 😛
6. Earplugs will soon become your new best friend
Every public campsite has at least someone that makes it a living nightmare for their neighbors.
The neighbors kids will get up at dawn and wake up the rest of the family, and a group of friends on the other side will stay up until some ungodly hour drinking, chatting loudly and banging their alcohol glasses through the night.
However, we can counteract this with ear plugs, or as much as possible at the very least.
The way to avoid this completely is by going wild!
7. Everything takes longer than usual
You are outside in the wilderness, what do you expect?
Making a hot chocolate takes 10 minutes longer and cooking dinner takes an extra hour since you have to worry about hygiene so much more than in your kitchen, and of course safety food practices is a must!
Number 4 ties in with this perfectly. The more people that help, the faster and easier it is to get things done. It’s as simple as that.
And that’s why every trip I go on these days is with a group. Work smarter not harder my friend.
8. Camping is the best time to stargaze
Hands down – no two ways about it.
This is because there is less light around you.
Your eyes “adapt” to the low light, giving you a better visualization of the starry night sky.
Basically, you see more stars than you would from your backyard, the streets, and especially the city.
And since you’re sleeping outside in a tent you might as well remove the rain fly (if your tent has a mesh roof) and watch the stars go by.
9. You should ALWAYS be taking safety precautions
Just because camping is by far one of the best vacations to go on, that does NOT mean it isn’t dangerous.
And it’s even worse when you’re in the wilderness.
However, the more aware you are the easier it is to stay safe.
Do not let this put you off camping, because it’s just like everything else we do in our lives.
If we dive into an activity without a care in the world, we tend to hurt ourselves or even others. It’s the same on a camping trip.
Camping is fun and always will be, but the minute you let your kids run free in the wild or not bother to watch your step when you’re out exploring, your “wild weekend getaway” could soon turn into a “tragedy weekend” if you’re not careful.
10. You don’t want to go home but when you do you will absolutely love it
It’s the last night and you’re DREADING the fact that you have to get up in the morning and start packing your gear.
It’s one of the worst things about camping and unfortunately good things have to come to an end.
But in saying that, you will get back home and realize everything is so simplified! Your life isn’t all that hard after all.
You have hot showers at-the-ready, running water at your disposal, dry blankets, and most of all a comfortable bed!
Everything you need is in your little “safe place” you call home and it’s one of the best feelings to experience after a long weekend in the wild – where you struggled to do every little task, tasks that took twice as long as usual…
But we do it again anyway
More often than not we usually talk about the trip with the small group we went with.
These are the times you will realize you didn’t need all those extra blankets, the types of foods you didn’t cook so you won’t bother bringing again, along with the highlights and low lights.
As ironic as it sounds, it’s not long before we start planning our next camping trip even after the cold showers, noisy neighbors and wild animals that scared us in the middle of the night.
But that’s how the cycle goes and it’s exactly why the camping community is still thriving to this day, and will KEEP on growing.
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10 thoughts on “10 Things Every Car Camper Should Know”
Great post, makes me want to go camping this weekend. I really appreciated the tips about always using a bigger tent than you think you need and getting a pair of earplugs. Last time I went camping it was so loud with other campers and this stupid bird that woke us up crazy early. Speaking of tents, do you have a certain tent you would recommend for a 4 person size? thanks!
That’s just one of those things that can happen when you camp in a public site, sadly.
But the bird waking you up at some ungodly hour of the morning can happen anywhere in the wild, lol. I do know of a good 4-person tent you’ll like actually. It’s called the Kelty Gunnison 4.3 Tent, and after reviewing it thoroughly I came to the conclusion that there’s almost nothing wrong with it!
This site makes me want to go camping. The wilderness will make it hard to ever have a homey feel despite the setup and it would have to be a while to adjust to such an environment. I think 4 days out the year would be fine for me.
There’s no way you’ll be able to make it feel exactly like home, that’s for sure. The point I was making is that you should set it up the way you like. You’ll feel a lot happier if you do. It’s the “little things” that count.
Yeah I learned to bring earplugs quite early on as I’m such a light sleeper and more than once I have been woken up at night. I haven’t experienced people being loud at ungodly hours of the morning but I did experience the sounds of trains passing by and train whistles every hour of the night.
And you’re so right about forgetting something at every camping trip. We have a pop-up and while we have some things stored in there permanently, we still forget at least one item every time. We created a camping list on Wunderlist which syncs on both and me fiance’s phones and this helps a lot. We have a system where we place everything in Rubbermaid storage bins to bring with us so we carry like 2 -3 containers and 2 small luggages. We used to pack everything is reusable grocery bags and it was nightmare carrying like 20 bags on each trip.
It’s probably the most underrated gadget for public campsites actually (well, high up there anyway).
You see, camping provides a wide range of different noises all through the night. Even if you’re in the wilderness with nobody around, you have animals and storms that can wake you up at any moment. That won’t happen with ear plugs.
Somehow, no matter how many times you check everything off there’s always at least one item that falls between the cracks. I’ve never used Wunderlist, but I want to give it a try now!
And I agree, the storage bins help tremendously. I can’t even imagine using that many grocery bags, haha.
Brandon, I love your writing style. Good advice, and a humorous delivery.
#4 and 6 are my favorites! Never thought about more hands to make for more relaxation time. But more hands means more noise to account for.
Thanks for this post. It reminds me of how much fun I had camping as a younger man. Might have to get back to it now. With a 10-person tent for myself. 😉
I get what you mean about more people equaling more noise, but then again I always say: “the more the merrier”.
Haha, there will be a lot of spare room for you to enjoy. Well have fun if you do execute a camping trip 🙂
Great post, I really love camping and you are right, we always forget something, I have created a very good checklist and it is always improving, but even with the list on hand we forget things.
Yep, couldn’t agree more!