The Five Stages of Packing for Camping

Stage 1: The List

Teh List, you needs it. Packing for a camping trip actually requires more than you’ll really want to think about.  My list has 3 components: Food, Clothes, and Stuff.

Food involves a little menu planning so you know how much cooler space you’re going to need and don’t forget that one of your kids doesn’t eat anything that the rest of the family likes.  It would be nice if this turned out to be all stuff you already have, but it won’t work out that way.  Refrigeration technology is so convenient, but at a premium when you’re in the woods.

Clothes involves a list that is mostly the same for each person.  Adults tend to need fewer changes than kids, but we also like to be cleaner so that can adjust things, too.  Things mostly balance.

Stuff contains five sub-lists: Cooking (which also holds the list of things needed to clean up from cooking), Shelter (tents, sleeping bags, and so on), Personal Care (soap, toothpaste, etc), Beach (you can skip this if there’s no beach where you’re going), and Activities (bikes, games and cards if it rains, etc).

Taking enough stuff?


Stage 2: Staging

This is the part of the process where your living room becomes a dumping ground for all of the stuff on the List.  Label the piles to more easily get the kids involved in gathering stuff up.  This is also the time when you find out all of the things you don’t have or that don’t work.  Time for a new air mattress, probably.


Stage 3: The Supply Run

Armed with the List, items you need to get highlighted to make the trip easier, go to the grocery store, the sports equipment store, and probably a Wal-Mart or Zellers to get everything you don’t have or need to replace.  Allow a few hours for this step.  The day before you’re leaving may or may not be the best time, but it’s usually when I do it.


Stage 4: Staging, Round 2

Back to the living room to put all of the stuff you just bought into the appropriate piles.  It seems like this stage should go quickly, but it doesn’t.  Inevitably, you find something you missed, or can’t find something you know you bought, and the kids aren’t going to be a lot of help.  They’re more interested in squeezing in just a little more video game time before they have to live without power and internet for a few days.


Stage 5: Loading the Vehicle

Efficient packing?  At first, maybe.  Very quickly, it becomes about just getting everything into the van so you can get moving already.  There’s whining and complaining that it’s early in the morning (even when it isn’t) and how long is it going to take us to get there and just go back in the house and wait until I call you, okay?  This can be minimized a bit by starting the night before if you’re well prepared.  Once you’ve got everything stuffed in so you can’t see out the rear view mirror, you can mount the bike rack (or whatever) on the back, tie everything down that wouldn’t fit inside, and stuff the children into what’s left of the back seat.

There, ready for a fun-filled camping trip?


Stage 6: One Last Stop

Did I say five stages?  Stage 6 is the stop on the way out of town for that extra bottle of sunscreen/bug spray/alcohol that you’re absolutely not going to get through the trip without.  And maybe some earplugs or headphones.

Happy camping!


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