Happy Camper? 6 Tips to Make This Phrase a Reality

View at Palisades State Park in Alabama.
Our family has been traveling a lot together in July.  We had plenty of time to discuss our camping game last month.  Since this is a team effort, collaboration is important.  We have learned a lot from each other on this journey.  You may see the "happy camper" gear everywhere you look but are you really a happy camper?  Here are 6 tips to make this phrase a reality!

Just right meal planning

On most of our trips, we camp within a few miles of a store in any direction.  Unless you are boondocking in a remote location, there is not going to be a food crisis at your campsite.  Don't plan like your stocking up for the apocalypse!

Plan your meals with leftovers in mind.  Include some snack type meals that can include snack items that you may already pack - hummus, cheese, fruit, veggies, and crackers.  Meals that allow items to serve double duty keep you from over packing your food pantry.

We enjoyed shrimp tacos while eating out on the MS Gulf Coast on one trip this year.

We use leftovers for breakfast or lunch meals where we are using grilled meats for salads or omelets.  Read labels and use the servings per container or bag to help you decide how much you need.

What's the worst thing that can happen?  You have to run to a store and pick up something?  Or you have to eat out one meal.  Okay.  Then you had a sightseeing excursion while you made a grocery store run or you didn't have to wash the dishes.  Either way, you are going to be okay.

Activities Balance

Some of the best trips have NO planned activities.  Sure.  It is fun to have something planned but keep that list short.  Planning every second of your day makes everyone miserable.  You won't remember what you did.  You will remember being tired and frustrated.

Afternoon fun on the South Yuba River in Northern California.

On our recent trip to California, we wanted to swim at a local swimming hole and maybe do some wine tasting.  We did just that.  But nothing else was planned.  It was wonderful.

Be a weather tracker

Check the weather and heed warnings.  We weathered a really bad storm last year that has caused us to camp with caution.  Rain is one thing, but I will not be camping in super stormy weather again.  The weather predicted overnight storms on our Memorial Day trip last year.  The weather was beautiful during the day.  We blew it off.  And our awning blew over our pop up and could have blown us away.  There were trees down everywhere - in the site next to us in fact.  While we were okay, it isn't something I'm planning to do again.

Know your limits and stick to them.  No trip is worth harm to you or your camper!  And while some weather is unpredictable, if bad weather is predicted, rethink your plans.  Staying safe is worth losing a few bucks on a camping site.

Pack the right clothes

My husband is the king of planning too much and the wrong things!  Yep.  He knows it.  And he was the one that came up with this item on our list.  Funny how that works.

In the hot and humid south, wicking clothes and cool fabrics make a difference.  Check the weather and plan your clothing based on the weather.  Wicking fabrics pack easily into compact spaces and won't weigh you down.

You could apply the capsule wardrobe to camping.  For men, pants, shorts, tee shirts, a rain jacket, and a hat could be good starting pieces.  For women, shorts or a skort, leggings or pants and a fitness dress could all be good pieces paired with a rain jacket.  I'm a big fan of layering lightweight pieces.  Be practical in your choices, and your wardrobe will serve you well!

Keep it real!

Do you have a grand trip in your mind only to take it and be let down?  I think this comes back to planning too many things.  I can remember a trip to Chicago my husband and I took while we were dating.  We tried to do as many things on the list that Ferris Bueller did in his one-day skipping school.  Impossible and crazy are two words that come to mind.

There will always be things to put a kink in your plans.  Someone gets too tired or too hot and needs a nap.  Somebody decides they don't want to hike.  Or that road leading to a special lookout or trail is closed.  Don't make these speed bumps into a mountain.  Regroup and do something else.

So everyone is too tired or grumpy.  Great!  You probably needed some extra time in your hammock anyway.  Try to look on the bright side and enjoy your time away no matter what it brings.  We have taken the cold rainy camping trip and still had a grand time.  Make the most of your time and your lemonade stand will serve you well.

Know your limits

If you are driving a long way to a campsite, can you do it in one day?  Do you need to stop overnight on the way to where you are going?  5 or 6 hours is our limit on drive time to a spot where we have to set up at the end of our day.  Anything more would be too much.

Stopping overnight while traveling with our pop up, I just couldn't justify all of the setup and take down for one night.  We would stay in a hotel to break up the trip.  I'm okay with that!  Everyone travels differently.  Make your own rules and enjoy your time no matter how you plan to do it.

Don't forget to stop and take in the view.  We stopped several times on the way to the airport this summer in Northern California.
Also, if you are going really far to camp, you might consider renting a cabin or an outdoorsy rental when you get there or even renting a motorhome.  Taking advantage of these camping alternatives as opposed to taking your own rig are still great ways to enjoy nature.  Don't feel like you have to take your own camper to camp.  Shake it up!

Don't push yourself to the brink driving.  We all know that set up can be stressful.  Tired people don't always work well together.

What tips do you have for the happy camper?  What lessons have you learned along the way?  We all learn from our mistakes.  I hate making them, but it feels good on the other side to learn from them.

Needing more inspiration and ideas, visit my Camping Lists and Menus Page with plenty of printables that you can use for planning your next adventure.  Until next time...

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