So you want some advice on car camping? You have come to the right place. This article has 10 Car Camping Tips for You to Eat and Sleep Well. Too often than not, people grab a sleeping bag, throw down the seats, and try to sleep the night away. That does not go far enough. There is more to it than just that.
Let’s get started.
1. Minimize Gear, Maximize Utility
If you have read any of my previous posts, then you know I am a fan of multi-use tools. They constitute a key aspect of camping. It’s no different with car camping. Except instead of sleeping in a tent under the stars, you are in your car. You also want to minimize your gear. More stuff means for more headaches. The fewer items you see, the less you have to worry about.
2. Learn How to Save Gas Money
Besides food and campsite fees, gas is going to be a large cost of your trips. It costs money if you want to move around.
Your best bet is use the GasBuddy app to find cheap gas near you. You can search by city, state, or zip code. If you do not have a smart phone or no access to the app, stop at a place where there are multiple gas stations in the area. Do not be afraid to ask other people either. The only thing stopping that conversation is your own fear. People are mostly nice if you smile and say hello in friendly fashion.
3. Do a Dry Run at Home
You wouldn’t take your kids on a camping trip without first trying it out in the backyard first and it is no different with car camping except you are sleeping in your front yard at home.
In case you find you forgot anything at home, you can always run inside to grab the cup of sugar. You do not have the option as readily available to you if you were at a camp site. It is a lot more stressful to ask your campground neighbor to jump start your car than if you were to do so in the comfort of your home. You can smooth out all the hiccups with greater ease near home rather than out on the road.
You also get a taste for whether this is really something you want to do. Are you prepared to spend days on the road, sleeping each night in a different place? Car camping at home gives you a taste.
4. Bin it to Organize It
All your items should have a place in your car. It’s not the Great Depression anymore where you throw as much as you can in your car and then drive out to California in search of a job (sorry Grapes of Wrath characters). No, you itemize everything you bring along with you.
Set aside a bin for toiletries, another for kitchen utensils and supplies, another for towels, you get the idea of where I am going with this.
5. Hang Your Food out at Night
You do not want to wake up in the middle of the night with a bear scratching at your window looking for some grub. An item like a bear canister works well. You can also hang your food in a tree above ground. Many camp sites also come with a communal bear dumpster. The bear can scratch and moan all it wants but it won’t be getting inside.
A bear can definitely get into your car. It has the strength to break windows. You might be tempted to take the easy way out and bring everything close to you in your car, but you do not want to wake up with a bear and raccoon trying to trade you for your scented shampoo and bacon and eggs.
6. Feel Like You’re at Home and Sleep on an Inflatable Bed
Inflatable beds work wonders. If you sleep well, you are going to have a good next day nine times out of ten. If you paw at your lower back screaming out in pain for your mommy, it’s probably because you just grabbed a sleeping bag and decided to fold down the seats and get some shut-eye instead. It might be tempting to save money, but your back and well-being will pay the price.
It’s okay to strive to save money, I do so too, but spend it on what’s important, like your back. Your well-being matters.
7. Get to Your Campsite Early
Many places operate on a first come first served basis. Aim to get a spot close to facilities or as according to your preferences. Not all campgrounds are the same. You get more options if you get there early. You don’t want to be getting to the Maui Marriott two days before Christmas where everything is booked.
No, you do not want to do that. Get to your camp site early in the day and before the holiday rush. Life is a lot slower until everyone else arrives. You can appreciate the journey more.
8. Turn off the Lights Inside Your Car
You do this so you don’t drain your car battery. At the end of your adventure, you don’t want to be caught unable to start your car. It also means you will be courteous to your neighbors. If they see the lights going on and off all night, then they won’t be getting much sleep and you probably won’t be either.
9. Learn How to Camp for Free
If you do nothing but camp at famous national parks like Yosemite, Yellowstone, Crater Lake, and Zion all summer long, the costs add up faster than an expert mathematician. And if you are on a budget, the budget blows up well beyond what you were expecting.
If you want to save money on places to camp, then you should check out one of my previous articles, Where Are Places I Can Camp for Free in the US and Canada? Camping is a great way to have a cheap vacation, but you cannot save money at a reasonable rate if you always head to the major sites all the time.
10. Feel Free to Be Luxurious
Life is too short to not smoke a Cuban cigar and drink fine wine every now and again. You need a break from trying to save so much money. Indulge yourself. Because you are in a car, you are not limited by space or weight as you would be if you were just backpacking. You can bring as much as your car can carry.
Dream big, but also think about how much room you have. You can kick your feet up and watch the sunset over the horizon.
Are You Looking to Sit Comfortably?
You should be all set to go. You now know some tips to make your journey a lot easier. The trip does not seem all so bad and a lot more joyous. Try it for a night or two. You will never know how much fun you can have unless you take the first step into the unknown.
If you want to enjoy the trip even more, then it helps to kick your feet up every now and again in a comfortable chair. You should check out one of my previous articles, The Best Lightweight Folding Camping Chairs of 2019, (do not fret if it’s 2029 and this article still reads 2019; I update the ‘best of’ articles on an annual basis). If you want to be more comfortable and luxurious, then click on the link below to learn more.
If you have any thoughts, questions, or think I missed anything, do not hesitate to comment below and please share the article. Thank you so much and I hope you make it a great day!