It’s taken me a lot of years, and few miserable trips where I’ve forgotten something major (pillow, matches, coffee!) but I finally have my go-to packing list for our family camping trips. It hasn’t failed us yet. I hope this helps makes it easier for you to get your family out there.
Nancy’s Camping Trip Packing List
Plastic ground tarp (for under your tent)
Sleeping pads (Bring on the inflatable mattress if you have a way to power the pump!)
Pillows (It’s car camping after all.)
Extra tent stakes and mallet for pounding them in
Hand broom and dust pan (I like to keep the dirt at bay inside my tent.)
Camp chairs (for sitting by the fire)
Two burner camping stove
Propane canisters for camp stove
1 large pot
1 frying pan
Cooking utensils (large spoon and spatula)
Kitchen knives (1 large, 1 small)
Dishware (plastic or metal plates, bowls and mugs…plastic wine glasses?)
Cutlery (Forks, spoons, knives)
Coffee filter cup or French press (and filters if using the cup)
Large tablecloth (for potentially grimy picnic table)
Roasting forks (For S’mores, of course! Yes, you can use a stick.)
Biodegradable dish soap (like Dr. Bronner’s…doubles as hand soap and shampoo)
Matches and/or lighter
Votive candles in holders (for dinner table)
Camp lantern (Propane is good for outside but I like a battery-operated lantern to use in the tent at night time)
Headlands/flashlights (one for every member of the family)
Utility cord/rope (in case you need a clothes line or to secure something)
Plastic trash bags
OTHER ITEMS FOR COMFORT AND HAPPINESS
Personal clothes and toiletries
Food for meals and snacks
Olive oil, salt, pepper, coffee, sugar, water and other beverages (I list them separately since these essentials are easy to forget at the grocery store pre-trip)
Cards, balls, games/toys
Towels (beach and/or bath)
So you’re ready to go camping! Now you have to find a campground. You have lots of options between state, federal, and private land. To get you started, here are some handy resources:
Reserve America: This is website for reserving sites at private, state and federal campgrounds throughout the Unites States.
Recreation.gov: This is a one-stop shop online for reservations, trip planning and information for 12 federal agencies including the National Park Service and Forest Service.
Hipcamp: This is a great site that makes finding and reserving campsites possible from one place online. It lists public and private campgrounds in all 50 states in the US and they also connect you to some really cool private lands (think Airbnb for camping).
Wishing you great adventures wherever you go! Let me know if I can help.