Making camping easier.
Your first few camping trips with your new bell tent will probably be your least smooth, in that you most likely won’t be totally sure what you’ll need once you’ve arrived at your destination. I always say a good idea is to set up camp in your garden first, leaving the bell tent up for a few days. And then actually spend several evenings and nights out in your tent. This way you’ll start to understand what you like to have around you in order to feel happy, at home and comfortable, and conversely what you absolutely need to have close by in order to have a good and relaxing break (corkscrew!)
My worst nightmare is packing bags and boxes on the day of departure. Panic always sets in, it’s never quite clear what has been packed by the other half (or what hasn’t been). The kids are getting in the way, everyone’s getting tetchy and the car is packed, unpacked and re-packed several times meaning the whole scheduled departure time (not to mention arrival time, tent erecting time and evening chill time at the other end) goes hugely out-of-the-window. Nightmare before you’ve even started!
Create definitive lists of what you’ll want or need on your trip. Break the lists into categories such as ‘kitchen stuff’, ‘kids clothes’, ‘lighting’, ‘first aid/medicines’, ‘dog stuff’, ‘bedding’ etc. Then find and/or collect boxes or containers, preferably ones that are uniformly packable/stackable – and which can also double up as low tables if covered by a cloth or something similar, once inside the erected tent. Lightweight containers or boxes is also a must, as are containers that are easy to wash and wipe clean. Compression bags for duvets and pillows are a great space saving idea. Don’t forget to take some bags to be used for waste/rubbish, as well as perhaps some lightweight cotton bags for used clothes/laundry.
Pack each category on the list into its own box or bag. I would even go so far as to suggest that for those items such as kitchen gear, which can also be washed before packing up to return home, that you leave them permanently packed in their boxes until the next camping trip. In fact between camping trips keep as many boxes as possible permanently pre-packed. And keep them always in the same spot in the garage, trailer, shed etc. That way, by keeping ‘camping stuff’ clearly separated from ‘house stuff’ there’ll be no (or minimal) confusion or cross-over. Everything can be kept entirely separate. Well, almost everything!
One way of avoiding the afore-mentioned ‘panicking’ on the day of departure, is to finalise packing all of the boxes/bags the day before in a calm, collected fashion, checking contents of non pre-packed boxes against lists. And then pack the car up the night before – preferably while the kids are asleep. This quite neatly stops children from getting in the way and under your feet. And it means you can be properly focused, hopefully packing all of your pre-packed boxes into the car as neatly as possible. I always try to pack things into the car in the same order – if a system works, why break it?! Of course the first few times you’ll need to work the most efficient car-packing strategy out – so larger items/boxes in first, smaller items fill up the nooks and crannies, and softer items only (such as duvets and pillows/cushions) placed higher up above the tops of the seats in front. This makes a lot of sense from a safety perspective, as you do not want heavy or sharp objects ramming into passengers’ heads and necks during an unscheduled emergency stop. When first working out your packing ’system’ try laying everything out on the ground, and then pack the larger, heavier items in first… it will only get easier! One very important point though – always pack your bell tent in such a position as to ensure you can get it out of the car first (or almost first) – you don’t want to have to empty the car in order to access the tent, especially if it’s raining!
Perhaps one of the few items to pack in the car on the day of departure would be the coolbox, fresh foods (for which you have left space), and of course the kids and dog.
Camping is something to be enjoyed! Make life easier for yourself and enjoy the experience!
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