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Everything You Need to Know About Preparing Your Car for a Camping Trip

Camping is a great way to bond with your friends and family and immerse yourself in nature. Whether you’re going away for the weekend or away for the week, there’s no doubt that a classic camping trip connects you to the great outdoors and helps rejuvenate you.

But for people who aren’t accustomed to camping, you might be wondering where to start. Not everyone has a campervan or RV to get everything they need into a spacious area. With that in mind, here are a few tips for preparing your car for a camping trip.

Keep Safety In Mind

One of the most important parts of preparing any vehicle for a journey is safety. For instance, depending on the length of your trip and how many people are joining, you may be adding significant weight to your vehicle.

This alters your turning speed and other areas of your driving experience. “If you add items to the top of your vehicle, you’ll need to pay attention to your overpass height, and if you strap items to the rear of your vehicle, you’ll have to ensure everything is properly attached to avoid an accident,” says the auto injury team at Lampert & Walsh.

Pack Smart

Every camping trip starts with smart packing. For starters, this means creating a packing list long before you set out on your adventure. There are plenty of packing apps that make it easy to keep track of what you do and don’t have. Be sure to consider everyone’s belongings, particularly if there’s recreational equipment involved, which will take up a bit more space.

It’s also important that you leave yourself ample time to organize those belongings in the car. Packing can be like a game of Tetris if you’re trying to cram a bit, and you may need to play around with your organization.

Pack in clear containers when possible, and label as much as you can. And of course, refrain from overpacking. For instance, your cooking needs should be three containers maximum: a cooler, a clear Tupperware for food, and a small Tupperware for spices. Here are a few camping checklist ideas:

  • Tent (don’t forget the footprint and stakes)
  • Camp chairs
  • Sleeping bags and pads
  • Flashlight
  • Camp table
  • Hammock
  • Camp rug
  • Tarp or sunshade
  • Stove and fuel
  • Matches
  • Swiss Army knife (or something comparable)
  • Trash bag
  • Cooler
  • Water bottles
  • Cooking and eating utensils

Of course, there are plenty of other items you can bring along, but these are the basics. And your final packing list will depend on the type of trip you’re taking. For instance, if you’re permitted to make a fire, you’ll need to pack firewood and lighter fluid.

Adding a Bed

Depending on how long your trip is, you might be wondering how you can turn your vehicle into an impromptu camper for sleeping. This is especially true if you’ll be on a long-term trip where the weather isn’t ideal. Perhaps you’ll spend several hours hiking and camping outside, and then plan to use your car as a retreat from the elements.

Thankfully, this is certainly possible with the right tools and car. Rather than simply put the seats back, you can build a platform bed without having to remove your seats. To learn more about the building process, check out this post on how one travel blogger transformed her new Subaru Outback into a camper.

Think About Parking

There are countless places to camp, from national parks to the backcountry and private campgrounds. But it’s important to think about where you’ll park your car once you arrive at your destination, especially if you’ll be off the beaten path.

Before you head out, check the area you plan to camp and ensure you have ample parking space, note the potential costs of parking, and how long you’re permitted to keep your vehicle in that spot.

Keep Your Devices Charged

Keeping all your electronic devices charged on the road isn’t always easy, particularly after you’ve set up camp. Ideally, you shouldn’t keep running to your car for your electricity needs. Charge each of your electronics (including portable chargers) and do your best to refrain from device usage where possible.

After all, you’re camping, and the goal is to enjoy the nature that surrounds you. Instead of turning to your mobile device for entertainment, bring a good book or games to play with your friends. Additionally, consider bringing a solar panel for your dashboard.

Don’t Forget the Lighting

Whether you’re sleeping in your car or a tent, one thing is for sure: your lighting sources are important. Lanterns are a great way to bring some much needed “sunlight” to your camping area when the sunsets. In the car, lanterns prevent you from using your car’s resources and running into a potentially disastrous issue with battery power.

Fortunately, there are plenty of great lanterns for campers that last several hours with a set of batteries or chargers. You should also consider a headlamp to illuminate your paths for easy walking to and from the car in the evening, or exploring the area.

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