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How Do I Plan a Camping Trip?

Paulla Estes
Updated May 23, 2024
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A camping trip can be a delightful excursion for seeing the great outdoors, as well as a wonderful way for families and friends to spend time together in a relaxed setting at a relatively low cost. Campgrounds abound all over the world, but they are especially popular in well known tourist and vacation destinations. Whether camping near a fairly large city, in a secluded forest in the mountains, or near a windswept beach, a successful camping trip is always dependent upon the planning involved.

The first consideration in planning any camping trip is the weather. While some hearty souls opt for winter camping, most people camp during the summer months when the children are out of school and the air is warm and inviting. A spring trip, while beautiful, can be uncomfortable due to spring rains, mud and allergies. An autumn trip is nice because most of the insects are usually gone by then, but temperatures can be chilly. When planning your trip, always check weather forecasts a few days before you leave. Even the loveliest campground can be miserable in inclement weather conditions.

Every camping trip requires a checklist of items to bring along. These items include clothing, shelter, sleeping gear, food, safety and first aid equipment, and an emergency plan. Make sure you bring some sharp pair of scissors or a utility knife, just in case. If you're camping with kids, the same rule applies-keep sharp objects away from children for their safety and yours.

Clothing for camping is largely dependent on the weather, but even in the summer it is wise to bring clothing for both hot and cold temperatures, as well as rain gear. Choose clothing that is made with wicking materials that wick moisture away from your skin. These materials will easily keep you cool and dry if necessary. Avoid jeans and cotton of any kind. Bring a few more clothes than you need and plenty of extra socks.

Shelter might include anything from an R.V. to a tent to a makeshift shelter of branches and a tarp, depending on your idea of roughing it. Whatever you choose, make sure you know how to use it properly and see that it keeps the rain off your sleeping area. Sleeping gear isn't complicated, but the sleeping bag you choose should fit the season. Sleeping bags range from lightweight bags for hot weather to thick bags made for sub-zero temperatures. Bring the bag that's right for the weather forecasted on your camping trip, and if there is any concern about staying dry, consider purchasing a waterproof shell.

Bring whatever food is pleasing to you: burgers and hot dogs for grilling, sandwich material, or simply granola. Just make sure you also bring the necessary clean up and storage materials as well. You're also going to need at least a sharp hunting knife for cutting your food, tree barks, or when tying ropes and securing a tent. A dull knife can cause accidents, so make sure you get around to sharpening it before you go on your trip. If you will be camping near your car or in an R.V. of some kind, food storage won't be a problem; however, if you'll be staying in a tent and keeping your food outside, bring gear to secure the food at night. Wild animals are very adept at getting into coolers and crates, not to mention tents, in search of food. To avoid a midnight rendezvous with a curious raccoon or grumpy bear, put the food in a container that will mask the scent as much as possible, then secure it with ropes high in a tree. Make sure it is high, but hanging, so tree-dwellers won't have easy access.

Safety is essential on every camping trip. Bring along a first aid kit and go over any safety procedures with everyone in your party. In this day and age of high tech communication, it wouldn't hurt to bring a cell phone in case of an emergency. Keep it turned off if you prefer, but it will be there if necessary. At the minimum, have an emergency back-up plan. Leave information at home or with friends about where you will be and when to expect you back, and make sure everyone in the party knows what to do and where to go if there is an injury or if someone gets lost.

WiseTour is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Paulla Estes
By Paulla Estes , Writer
Based in Maine, Paulla Estes is a freelance writer and website editor with a B.A. in English Literature from George Mason University. With over 15 years of experience in the field, Paulla appreciates the flexibility and consistency that comes with contributing to WiseTour. She relishes the opportunity to continuously learn new things while crafting informative and engaging articles for readers.

Discussion Comments

By Sunny27 — On Aug 30, 2010

Crispety- A great camping trip idea is to rent a cabin the mountains. I am not one for a survival camping trip. I like the outdoors but like the comforts of a cabin or an RV.

You can focus on the camping trip food and make wonderful barbecue meals. You can even plan a canoe camping trip and enjoy canoeing and maybe hiking.

A family camping trip is always fun and many cabins can be rented for a weekend for about $500, while weekly rentals start at $700 per week. There is a site called Homeaway that offers information on available cabin rentals.

There is also a calendar so you can see if the property is already rented. You can also see interior pictures of the cabin and the site offers information on activities in the area.

On my next cabin rental, I will be looking at Big Bear in California. What I love about that location is that it is only an hour and a half away from Los Angeles, but you are still in a somewhat secluded area. I love California.

By Crispety — On Aug 30, 2010

Somerset- I heard Maine is beautiful. I think that

planning a family camping trip is really exciting.

It is important to have a list of what to take on a camping trip so that you don't forget something important on your next camping trip. It is really fun to go camping in an RV. An RV really makes camping more comfortable and allows for more storage.

You really need to focus on your food, plastic cutlery, paper plates, pillows, linens, Off spray, sunscreen, a GPS device, a flashlight, and toiletries such as shampoo, toothpaste and soap.

It is also great to bring along some camping trip games so that you can play when you are on your trip.

Board games like Sorry, Monopoly, Bingo and Scrabble are really entertaining games that can be played with after dinner when you want to wind down.

By somerset — On Feb 07, 2008

Planing in advance is so important for camping, and checking the weather forecast even more so. I remember camping in Maine, a very long time ago, and during our stay we got such a heavy downpour that we had to dig a ditch around our tent so we don't get flooded inside. To make things worse after the rain we had these tiny flies attack us, which was no fun. But on the whole camping is such great fun, and I suppose experiences like these make our lives more interesting.

Paulla Estes

Paulla Estes


Based in Maine, Paulla Estes is a freelance writer and website editor with a B.A. in English Literature from George...
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