So you’re planning for a camping trip? If you’re anything like me you have a desire to get outdoors, but the planning can seem a bit overwhelming. Camping shouldn’t be stressful. What I have learned over time is that planning gets easier and easier the more you go and the more experiences you have. It’s a great way to get outside, disconnect, and spend time with friends and family. Here are a few way I approach planning for a camping trip!

Decide Where to Go


Picking the ideal campsite for what you are looking for is very important, some research on different campsites will help this be a smooth process.

There are so many sites to choose from it can become overwhelming when looking, I always start by picking the general location that I am looking for and use filters on sites like Reserve, and the Outdoor Project  to help narrow down the campsite list. These websites are great for reviewing campgrounds, taking a look at campsite photos, and allow you to reserve the sites by one way or another.

You will also want to consider the amenities. For some, camping means being “one with nature” and for others this means still having access to bathrooms, running water, and even electricity. Consider what the campground has to offer. “Primitive” camping is a great experience, but it is not for everyone. Researching what the site has to offer will pay off in the long run, trust me.

Are you going to be camping in a tent, a car, an RV? Certain sites cater to one or the other better. Look to see if there are tent only sites, walk-up sites mean you will have to park your car and walk or sometimes even hike to the site. Likewise some have all the amenities and hookups necessary for campers but are too large for tent only. Campgrounds are a great place for novice campers and those who do not like to rough it all time to still experience what camping is all about.

Gather the Gear


This is the North Face Stormbreak 3 tent found here on REI.

The night before, lay everything out, get organized

Make a list of all the items you think you’ll need. Lay it all out on the floor if you need to. There’s nothing worse than getting halfway to your campground and saying “I think we forgot…”. Remember the closest store is not right down the street and always plan for the unexpected. Bad weather can happen at any time, getting caught in freezing rain, without a fire starter, your first night at the campground is never something you will want to go through. Take it from experience. Eliminate the stress and plan ahead.

Here is a list of a few bare minimal items for your next camping trip…

  1. Tent
  2. Sleeping Bag
  3. Sleeping Pad
  4. Food for each day you’re camping
  5. Water (water bottles, jugs, water purification)
  6. Multi-tool and/or knife
  7. Any cooking equipment
  8. Head lamp and/or flashlight
  9. Day pack/ backpack
  10. Fire starter (i.e; matches, lighter, commercial fire starter)
  11. First Aid Kit
  12. Black trash Bags
  13. Clothing
  14. Rainwear
  15. Hiking boots
  16. Sunglasses
  17. Sunscreen
  18. Hand sanitizer
  19. Essential toiletries
  20. Toilet paper

*** Key tip: If you are camping with friends share the responsibilities and the gear burden. Not everyone needs to bring the same items, sharing will help lighten the load!

Plan Your Meals


Planning your meals in advance keeps the worry away. Nobody wants hotdogs for every meal (besides my boyfriend), but the key to finding and cooking healthy tasty meals around a campfire takes a bit of planning and juggling. Remember to limit the amount of bulky and heavy ingredients (especially if you are hiking to your campsite). I have cooked meals like tacos in a bag and Indian food all on a Coleman grill. If you have an idea and put the work into planning, it shouldn’t be a problem to cook meals you would make in your own home with a few minor adjustments.

Foil meals are a great option for beginner cooks at a campground. This article here has 21 great options for foil-wrapped meals!  If you are car camping with a portable grill and a cooler feel free to bring items to make those easy recipes from home! Save space by taking spices, meats and cheeses out of packages, and putting them in small plastic baggies. Pre-portion food into a bag so you can bring along only the amount you need.

All of this can seem like a lot, but if you take the time to plan your camping trip experiencing a few setbacks (like weather) won’t ruin a trip. Cold and rainy weather every day? A well planned warm meal will make everything so much better.

The most important thing is to remember your in nature… enjoy your trip! I know the second I leave a site I am already planning for the next adventure.


For a more detailed camping packing list check out this link here.


Don’t forget to comment below if you have any tricks for when you plan a camping trip!