Nothing evokes family fun quite like a camping trip. Even a brief escape from chores, work emails, and Snapchat can be valuable, both for inner peace and family bonding.
The only problem? Your family is, as per usual, over-booked. From soccer games to day camp, you can barely find a spare moment to catch your breath, much less plan a camping trip.
When your schedule is consistently crammed, it’s critical that you’re able to hit the road at a moment’s notice. You never know when Little League might be canceled or a potluck dinner postponed. When opportunity strikes for a quick family getaway, you don’t want to waste it researching or packing. By planning in advance, however, you can make the most of whatever rare opportunity arises.
Planning won’t take the spontaneity out of your trip — it’ll increase the likelihood of you actually setting out on such an adventure. Read on to learn how you can plan for the ultimate camping vacation, without actually setting a date.
Develop Your Camping Bucket List
Chances are, your sudden camping opportunity won’t leave you with a lot of time for a cross-country drive. There’s a possibility all kinds of gems may exist in your back yard that you have yet to explore. These can form the basis of a short list, to which you can turn the moment you decide to hit the road for a spontaneous camping trip.
Set aside some time to research various parks, campsites, and outdoor activities. Which locations require reservations months in advance? Which require backcountry permits? Where can you show up on short notice? National park hot spots may be out of the question; you’ll have better luck with remote or lesser-known destinations.
As you develop your list of possibilities, keep various websites, social media accounts, and phone numbers handy. If it helps, develop an Excel file with top options, including notes about cost, accessibility, and other key considerations.
Pack Camping Gear in Advance
Ideally, you should be able to pick up and go within two hours of making your decision. This might seem impossible with a family, but advance packing can help.
Begin by gathering and inspecting camping gear. Take your tent for a test run in your backyard to ensure it still accommodates your entire family. Once approved, choose an easily accessible place to keep your tent, along with the following essentials:
- Sleeping bags
- Air mattresses
- Hiking backpacks
- Camp stove and other cooking equipment
- Trash bags
- Rain gear
- First aid kit
- Insect repellent
Develop an expanded list that includes anything specific to your family. For example, if one of your children is allergic to bee stings, keep an extra EpiPen with the first aid items in your pre-packed area. Keep the checklist near the pre-packed supplies; as you load these into your car, you can determine where you need to stock up or what you can leave behind this time.
With a spontaneous adventure, you can only get so specific during the planning process. As long as you’re equipped with campsite information and necessary supplies, you should be good to go. Half the fun of spontaneous camping is letting options unfold as they arrive. Grant yourself the freedom to explore unexpected gems along the way. Sometimes, unplanned memories are the most cherished.
A little planning will leave you prepared to embrace any family camping opportunity that comes your way. Take care of researching and packing now so you can have a blast later.