Getting Ready for Your First Camping Trip - A Checklist You Can Use

Experienced and rookie campers both need a checklist to get organized for that first trip of the season.  There is a lot of work for any camping trip, and nothing is worse than getting to a site unprepared or realizing that something you really need isn't there.  I've done it.  Our family is still getting things fine tuned for our trips.

When you are planning your first camping trip, I think that you should plan for the following:
  1. Maintenance/Prep
  2. Camping Basics
  3. Household Items
  4. Kitchen
  5. Outdoors
  6. Other Needs
  7. Basics and Beyond
Part of your list and what you pack is going to depend on what kind of camping you plan to do.  Will you need a convection or toaster oven or do you prefer to use a Dutch Oven?  Will you plan to do mostly grilling?  What season of the year will you be camping?  What kind of activities will you participate in while you are there?  How large is your family?  The list could go on.  Logically, think through your trip from start to finish and use this mental plan as your road map for planning.

Maintenance and Prep

Go over everything from brake lights to towing hookups and more.  Everything that you need to do to get out on the road should be combed over in preparation to go.  Also, make those little repairs and updates before getting to the campsite.

I did some extra sealant maintenance on our pop up camper with Dicor Self Leveling Sealant.
Peggy Sue is an older camper.  Her canvas is showing some signs of aging, so I planned for a repair kit to keep with us in case we needed it.  And, we have needed to make a quick repair.

I also recommend downloading a copy of your users manual for your camper and printing a copy to have on hand.  Ours is bound and stays in our camper because there is not always wifi.  Technology can and does fail at some point.  Be prepared and take a manual.  We have used ours for issues with putting our screen door in place to lots of other newbie questions.

Also, go through everything and make sure that it works and hooks up.  To read more about how we learned this the hard way, check out my post on Rookie Mistakes.  This will help you to check off your list and make sure that you are really ready to go.

Camping Basics

There is a certain set of basics you are going to need.  Sheets, towels, broom, toiletries.  These are your must-have items that you can just purchase and leave in your camper from trip to trip.  Basic items are some of the easiest to forget.  Make sure you go over this list and check it twice.

We purchased linens and towels from Wayfair that are part of our camping basics.  
Lots of camping basics and your household items could be duplicate items that are already at your house.  Take inventory of what you already have before you start buying new things for your camper.  It can save you a lot of money.

My basics list also includes things like bungee cords, matches, broom/dust pan and extension cords.  You will always need these items and can use them for multiple purposes.  Organize your basics so that can easily get to them when you need them.  It will make your trips much more enjoyable.

Household Items

There isn't really a whole lot of difference between camping basic and household items.  It is just how I separated my list.  My household items are cleaning supplies and items that I keep stored in my camper.  This is my list of things to set up house beyond just having somewhere to sleep at the end of the day.

I do keep laundry detergent and dryer sheets with us.  I know all too well how easy it is to get super dirty and need extra clothes.  Don't over pack because you worry about this.  Just do a load of laundry.  Having the supplies to do it make this easy.


Also, I like to cook.  However, cooking without the right gear is difficult.  I have a lot of kitchen type gear and tools.  This helps to make meals effortless.  I also prep a lot before we go to make meals easy.

Some of my favorite kitchen gear includes a nice assortment of utensils and tools, an electric skillet, a dutch oven, spices I keep on hand for cooking and a percolator coffee pot.
For meals, I also didn't want to have a bunch of appliances to lug about.  I use a percolator to make coffee.  A Dutch Oven is my oven.  I reheat food on my little gas stove in a skillet or a saucepan or we eat things cold.  One piece of equipment that I love is an electric skillet.  It is great for rainy days when grilling or cooking outdoors isn't easy.  It can be used as a griddle, a skillet or sauce pan.  A used or inexpensive one from the dollar store is a perfect.


It is important to spend lots of time outdoors.  So, we have our spot set up to cook, eat and play outside.  We have a rug, chairs, table for kitchen prep, a hammock and lights to enjoy time out in the evening.  Our space outside is as important to me as our space indoors.

A rug helps create a nice outdoor space and keeps the inside of your pop up a little cleaner.

These Klippy Klips from RV Designer hold our lights on and are easy to clip to our awning.

Other Needs and Beyond Basics

Some of your other needs depend on gear.  If you have a porta potty, you need toilet paper and Aqua Kem for your waste tank.  Everyone needs a first aid kit.  Some may consider this a camping basic.

Every camper needs a first aid kit.  We have one from Surviveware that is compact and has everything we need!  Its super well organized too!
 Finally, some things are not necessities.  You can camp without them.  Create yourself a wish list of things to purchase later.  This may come out of what you discover the first few times you camp.  Some of the things that I consider to be beyond the basics are popup gizmos, pie irons, and hammocks.  Camping gear can be expensive.  So don't feel like you have to buy it all at once.

A hammock is a great addition to your camping gear.  Everyone needs a comfy place to put their feet up and relax while camping!

Get organized, have a list and check it off.  It is the easiest way to have a simple easy, camping weekend.  The work on the front will pay off.  You can download my camping checklist.  And if you are interested in any of my other lists for camping, check out my camping lists page.

What are some of your camping must haves?  You can view a complete list of Camping Gadgets and Gear on my blog.  Share some of the camping gear that you think are essential to your camping success.  I hope this list helps you plan your next camping trip.  Happy camping!

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