Everyone should experience camping at some point in their life, and it can make a great family bonding experience. You can take camping to an extreme, bringing half of your home with you to make it a comfortable trip or keep it to the basics. I have compiled my list of the top essentials to include both; comfortable and simple.
Top National Parks
- North Cascades National Park in Washington – A permit is required for camping, but it’s free. They are given on a first-come, first-serve basis. Check out National Park Service for more information on obtaining your permit.
- Glacier National Park in Montana – If you enjoy hiking while camping, this is the park for you. They have over 700 miles of trails to travel & explore.
- Yellowstone National Park – The first ever National Park in America, which is why it makes the list, a historical landmark. While camping, check out the hot springs and Old Faithful geyser.
If you want to go camping, but don’t want to travel far, check out GoCampingAmerica for a campground near you.
Related: How to Pack Light for Hiking Trips
The best activities to do while camping
There’s no better way to fully enjoy your outdoor experience than actually getting outdoors and taking in the sights of nature while strolling through the campground or park.
ABC nature game
If you are camping with children, have them go through the alphabet A-Z and name things in nature with each letter. It’s a learning experience for little ones and keeps them occupied.
Build a campfire
Gather wood and sticks for your fire. Also look for stones or rocks to build a ring to keep the fire contained. You can have fun trying to start the fire the old fashioned way, if you want. See who can get the fire lit first without using matches!
Glow in the dark tag
Bring along some glow sticks to make tag more interesting and fun when it gets dark out.
Catch fireflies in a jar or pick up worms to study to keep the outdoor theme of nature going.
You can play simple card games to pass the time. Keep little ones entertained with Old Maid and Go Fish while the adults play a round of Spades.
Get traditional and make some s’mores. Add your own variation with portable Nutella cups or peanut butter.
Related: Useful Tips and Tricks to Make Your Camping Experience a Success
Make sure you include these top 4 items when camping:
- Sleeping bag and tent.
- Toilet Paper. It will make a huge difference in how comfortable your experience is.
- Fist Aid Kit
- Tarps. Hanging tarps in the trees will add extra protection from weather conditions that a tent might not hold up.
- Chafing pans. Lightweight, portable, and good to keep food warm for hours after you’ve cooked over the fire.
- Cooler. Bringing a lightweight cooler for a few items that need to stay cool will broaden your meal choices while still keeping things simple.
- Battery operated fan to keep cool.
- Battery operated radio to keep up with weather conditions, and of course listen to music.
Best foods for camping
- Beef Jerky (also slim jims)
- Goldfish (and other crackers)
- Fruit and veggie squeeze pouches
- Trail Mix
- Granola/cereal/oatmeal bars
- Tuna kits
- Wax covered cheese (stays fresh up to a week unrefrigerated)
Related: 9 Excellent Tips for Hiking in the Heat
Best Camping Hacks
- Freeze water bottles or jugs to put in cooler. Keeps foods fresh & you can drink them as they thaw.
- Prep food in advance. Make kabobs in advance & store in gallon bags or cover in tin foil. Cut up fruit & store in separate baggies, freeze before your camping trip.
- Bring sage with you to throw in the fire, it will keep the mosquitos away without using harmful or foul sprays.
- Tuck dryer lint inside empty toilet paper rolls for easy start fire.
- Strap a headlamp to a water jug for a makeshift lantern
- Store your clothes in a drawstring sack/bag and use as a pillow (just remember to separate dirty from clean).
- A fun and delicious camping treat: fill a waffle cone with cut up strawberry, banana, chocolate chips, and mini marshmallows. Cover in tin foil and roast over your fire or place in your chafing pan. Don’t forget to prep in advance!