I didn’t grow up camping, but my husband did. Some of his fondest memories are from family camping trips. I only remember my family camping a few times. When the opportunity to camp with friends came up I was a little nervous. Would my daughter cry, freak out and not sleep at night? Would my daughter be bored and annoy the shit out of us? Would it really be relaxing? What about the BUGS???? So many questions but much to my surprise camping has been relaxing and fun for all of us.
There is something about sitting around a campfire at night and exploring our surroundings during the day that brings out the best in us. It provides a calm break from the chaos that life at home can bring. With that being said, it is a TON of work initially and it does come at a cost. Our last trip we camped in some of the coldest weather Florida has had in years. We almost cancelled, but decided to go. We spent quite a bit of money buying heated blankets, and extra clothing to wear in layers. It stunk having to spend the money but it turned out to be one of our best trips yet.
Camping is a lot of trial and error; you do not realize you “need” certain items until you do not have them. The following is our camping supply checklist.
Tent: We tent camp and I love it. When I was searching for a tent I looked for one that we could stand in and also had enough room for our daughter to sleep on her own. It also needed to be “easy” to put up. My husbands needs were one that has a high wind and rain rating and one that provides enough ventilation for the Florida heat. After weeks and weeks of research, we bought the Coleman Tenaya Lake . It is a little overkill for my family of three, but we like our space. My husband calls it our glamping tent.
Air Mattress/Cots: I love camping and don’t mind “roughing it”, but I am not sleeping directly on the ground. We each have our own twin air mattress. They were super cheap; $7 at walmart. Many of our friends have cots and love them. If you are willing to spend the extra money and aren’t a super tall human those are also a great choice.
Rechargeable battery powered air mattress pump.
Extra tent stakes
Mat to wipe feet on outside of tent.
Broom/Dustpan for sweeping dirt out of the tent
Pop Up shade Canopy and/or Netted canopy
Blankets/Sleeping Bags and pillows
Fans Battery powered/electric
Camp cookware: Pots, pans, pot holders, percolator for coffee, coffee cups, forks, spoons, a knife for cutting up food, spatula, large spoon, extra bowl, Tervis/Yeti cups, dish towels, table cloth for the picnic table and clips for windy days, trash bags, paper towels, pop up food nets, gallon size zip lock bags. We have a second set of these items strictly for camping that we leave in a locking bin.
Camp Stove and Extra Fuel
Toilet Paper: Save yourself from the sandpaper the restrooms provide. Also for using during late nights when popping a squat:-). We keep it in the tent next to our bed.
Cooler for cold food and drinks.
First Aid kit
Bug spray (The real stuff ), bug bands and anything else that will keep the mosquitos away.
Fire wood! I suggest that if you are planning on camping stock up on wood whenever possible. We have a good stockpile started; after a neighbor chopped down some trees we loaded up. we didn’t do this prior to our last trip and ended up spending around $30 on wood.
Matches, Lighter, fire starter logs
Water, Lots of water. Used for Cooking/Drinking. We invested in a PROPur portable water filter and we take that with us now. We hated having to bring so many gallon jugs of water. Many sites have potable water, but not all. We bring the filter to cut back on clutter in the campsite and reduce the amount of trash generated by bottles of water.
Lighting: Lanterns, flashlights, headlamps (for every family member). Extra Batteries. If your site has power: bring string lights to hang from tree to tree or from a pop up shade canopy. This is one of my favorite things to hang up at the campsite. It provides a subtle amount of light and nice ambiance when hanging around the campfire at night.
Battery powered phone charger
Pop up trash can that zips, not a must have just a convenient luxury.
Camping sink yet another one that you don’t need, but once you have it you won’t camp without it.
Hammock: There is nothing better than relaxing in a hammock drinking your coffee or reading a book. I suggest getting a double person. My husband and I enjoyed snuggling in the hammock together the last time we camped.
Toys/Entertainment: I usually have my daughter pack her own backpack with what she wants. She usually grabs books, her american girl doll/accessories, sketchbook and her hot wheels. We usually bring bocce with us. This last trip we brought our Nintendo Switch, but didn’t even play with it. Our friends brought a frisbee last time we camped and that was fun. Bikes and scooters are fun for getting around the campground. We also always bring our fishing poles and tackle box. We also bring a bluetooth speaker, music is a must at times.
Important things to note:
My family did not acquire all of these items at once. In fact some of the items we borrow from friends that also camp. We would have gone broke buying all of the items on this list at once. However we have been camping for a little over a year now and are building a good base for future camps. Everything that we buy now is an investment for future camps. We hope to get to the point where all we have to do is prep our food and load up the gear and go.
All of our gear does not fit in one vehicle. We usually take two vehicles or use my in-laws truck.
Use locking plastic bins to store supplies and dry food. Do not leave any food or bins out overnight. Animals will try to get into it. Load the bins into your locked vehicle or tent overnight.
If possible bring friends along. We love to camp with friends. Our daughter loves to have friends to play with and we love the adult conversation. It is also nice to have other campers you know to borrow from just in case you leave something you need behind. Of course, you could also talk to a fellow camper you don’t know. We have found other campers to be super friendly and always willing to lend a helping hand. After all we have all been through the same trial and error that comes with the territory.
Stay tuned for future posts on camping. I will be blogging next about camp food and places to camp in florida. We have only camped a handful of places, but I have a ton on my bucket list to share.
It takes work and some days there is more rain than shine but for us the hard work pays off. We are creating memories that will last a lifetime.
SAHM, Wife, Homeschooler, Owner/Artist of Bring Your Own Canvas…. amateur camper 🙂