My family loves to spend time outside. We love to camp, hike, fish and sit by the campfire. As much time as we spend out in the middle of nowhere, we are all creatures of habit and there are some things that I just can’t bear to spend a day without. Through trial and error, my family has figured out a way to take everything with it except the kitchen sink. Please do not misunderstand me – we do not pack and unpack multiple pieces of luggage, portable TVs or even a truckload of equipment. In fact, when we leave to go on a camping trip, we just fill our ice chest, grab a tote box, and go! Here is what we do:
Camping trip trials
We are fortunate to live in a rural area where wooded areas, rivers and lakes are plentiful for miles around. We’ve always loved to camp and go canoing. Several years ago, my husband and I became interested in backpacking. We would start our hike in the cool of a Friday afternoon, spend the entire weekend in the woods and make our way back to civilization before the sun would set on Sunday evening. While we enjoyed every minute of it, it was exhausting! We would be so sore on the days that followed our return home. And like a glutton for punishment, a week or two later, we would do the same thing again! I know that there are thousands of people who are hiking enthusiasts and enjoy hiking in rugged terrain for days, sometimes weeks, without seeing any sign of civilization. I enjoy being outdoors, however, long-term backpacking is not for me.
We began exploring public campgrounds, but discovered that usually, they were too crowded to enjoy any aspect of nature. If I wanted to camp next to loud neighbors I would pitch a tent in my own backyard! The purchase should be done of the camping tents with a lot of space. The camp should not be fixed in the crowd place. The noise of the neighbor camp will not come in the tent of the person. The use of the space should be done in the best way to enjoy the vacations.
We finally found the perfect camping spot in the middle of family owned land. If you share the same sentiments that we do toward public campgrounds, contact friends and family. Someone may even be interested in leasing you a piece of land for hunting and/or camping. You never know what is available until you ask.
After we had our camping spot figured out, we frequented the property every weekend. Do you know how frustrating it is to pack and unpack an entire family each and every available weekend. Sometimes, we would forget something at home, once or twice we left something behind at the camp that was need desperately at home. Is wasn’t very long before I put my best organization foot forward and tackled this packing problem.
I visited my local home improvement store and did some shopping. First, I purchased two large plastic tote boxes, a medium sized tote box, several shoe box-sized totes and a few pencil boxes. Yes, it’s a lot of boxes, but there is a method to my madness. Read on.
The large totes are for camping supplies; essentials that we cannot leave behind. The medium size tote is to store my “camping kitchen”. The other totes will store everything in between.
One of the large totes is actually kept in a shed on the property. In it we store small tools, a first aid kit, our camp stove, a set of nestling pots, a gallon of water a few MRE’s and some flashlights and a thick blanket sealed tight in a Zip-lock extra large bag. We also keep a roll of toilet paper stored in a plastic coffee container. In over a year, the toilet paper stored has not gotten damp, wet or eaten by mice. Really, it doubles as an emergency kit if someone ever needs it.
In the other large tote, we keep travel size pillows, blankets, batteries, travel sized toiletries, first aid kit, lanterns and headlamps, fire starter and a candle lighter, and an extra set of clothes sealed neatly in a Zip-lock extra large bag. (those are great for camping too!) The kids have certain camping toys that are stored in this tote too! All of these items with the exception of the pillows and blankets, are packed and labeled in individual shoe box size totes. Every time we come home, we empty the contents. Everything gets washed and checked for bugs. If any item needs to be refilled or replaced, we take note and replace it before the next trip. The contents of this tote are stored on a shelf in the garage. The tote is a little cumbersome because of its size, but fits nicely on the shelf.
In the tote that stores my camping kitchen, I have managed to pack everything except the kitchen sink! In pencil boxes, we store any extra condiment packages that we get when we eat fast food. It is amazing how quickly your supply of package ketchup will multiply! In another pencil box, we store plastic wear and napkins. I even have a pencil box to store a set of cheap knives I purchased for camping. In the bottom of my tote, I pack a large cast iron skillet. I have a cast iron pot that I use a lot at home. I just carry the pot with me for times that I plan to use it. It is too bulky to bring it back and forth. I keep a never ending supply of aluminum foil in my kitchen tote as well as paper plates and cups, and a variety of seasonings stored in little storage containers.
Instant coffee and hot chocolate are staples in my camp kitchen. When we arrive at the camp site, my job is to set up my kitchen. I take all of the small totes and bags out of the large tote. All of my small totes are labeled, so I just set up nice stacks of boxes and make myself a counter top with the large tote box.. We love to experiment with campfire cooking, so I usually spend my time in the “kitchen”. Sometimes, I get more elaborate with my campfire cooking than I do when I cook at home! Our favorite campfire food is potatoes amp; onions. To make this you slice one potato for each person top it with onion slices and salt and pepper, wrap in foil and let it cook in hot coals until tender. That’s it!
When we are ready to go home, we just replace the contents into the appropriate totes, throw them into the back of the truck and away we go. Nothing gets left behind anymore. I follow the same clean up method for my kitchen tote as my husband does with the camping supplies. Clean everything right away and replace or refill contents before the next trip.
All of our organization tips and tricks may not work or be feasible for your family, but the point that I would like to make is this…you if come and go as often as we do, you will benefit greatly from being somewhat organized. It will certainly make your trips more manageable and enjoyable.