How to Plan a Camping Trip

(and What Not to Forget When You Go)
Chelsea Day talking to her four boys outside of their Highland Ridge RV

Want to get out of the house and into nature? Camping is a fantastic way to get back to basics, spend time with people you love, and regain clarity and peace in a busy world. Here are my tips to plan a camping trip––and make sure you’re prepared with all the essentials.

Consider Your Desired Experience

This will guide your planning process. Do you want to boondock in the National Forest Service or Bureau of Land Management areas, or do you prefer to stay in an established site with amenities like restrooms and laundry facilities? Camping options are hugely varied, so it’s good to get a sense of what kind of vibe your group wants for the trip.

Many reservable options book well in advance, so it’s good to check popular sites such as KOA, or Jellystone for availability and nab your spot. If you don’t score a site you want, some campgrounds offer same day first-come-first-served reservations.


This is another crucial element of planning a camping trip, as it will dictate potential activities as well as gear that you’ll need to take along. If you’re camping in the middle of summer, take lots of sunscreen and bug spray. Opting for a snowshoeing adventure? That will require a totally different set of stuff.

Packing: What You Really Need

When it comes to packing for an RV camping trip there are a few basic categories that you absolutely must address, including food, comfort, and utility/safety.

When you’re camping, you obviously need food and a way to cook it. If you plan to cook in your RV or at your campsite, you’ll have a stove, oven and fire pit at your disposal. If you’re planning to RV and hike further into nature for the day, you might want to pack MREs (dried food pouches) with a backpacking stove for fast, easy meals out in the wild. If you have a larger group, meal prepping is a more practical and economical option. A camp-sized grill is a good way to fix up meat, skillet hash, pasta pancakes and more while maximizing your time outdoors. Don’t forget snacks! For my family, I tend to pack a lot of apples, carrots, and hard cheeses that travel well. A simple cooler is a great way to keep it all on hand for travel days in a tow vehicle. You’ll also need dishes, biodegradable soap to wash them with, water for washing and drinking and drying towels.

Comfort items are the most often overlooked, but they’re the most important things to help you have a really enjoyable trip! You’ll want tables and chairs to relax with, and extra clothes so there’s no whining about wet socks or smelly undershirts. Ear plugs are also a good idea if there’s a chance that you’ll wind up next to a rowdy group, and an eye mask can be helpful in case nearby lights happen to shine into your windows. Towels to dry off after bathing are another important thing that people tend to forget!

Camping gear that falls into the utility/safety category includes stuff like a first aid kit, sunscreen, bug spray and itch cream, ponchos, and any other items necessitated by your travel area and weather. Flashlights, headlamps or other lighting will also ensure that you can see at night if you need to leave your RV.

Fun Little (or Big) Extras

With the essentials covered, there are tons of items you can use to really customize your experience. We like to bring games to play. Walkie talkies can help with communication if cell phones don’t work in your camping area, and you may want to bring fishing poles or bows and arrows for archery.

Finally, if you plan on hiking, walking sticks are helpful, along with a hydration pack, and Advil in case you get sore. Arnica cream is another favorite among hikers I know.

Before You Go

As with any trip, before you head out you should let close friends or family members know where you’re going, and make arrangements for pets, plant watering, and any other necessary house stuff.

With all the right gear in tow and the perfect camping plan, you’re ready for the adventure of a lifetime. Oh, and don’t forget a camera for all the memories!

The Day family RVs in a Highland Ridge RV.

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