5 Tips for Planning Your Best Camping Adventure

The South Yuba River where we swam while camping in California this summer.

There is no such thing as the perfect camping trip.  However, the decisions you make before you get to the campground will make a big difference in the success of your trip.  I'm a planner.  It is in my nature.  While some trips are better than others, camping is less daunting and much more fun with some experience under our belt.

Research Your Location (even if you are close to home)

One of my favorite parts of the planning process is picking where to camp.  Our family loves to explore new places.  Other times, we just want to get away for a quick trip that is not far away.  Be flexible enough to both go the distance and enjoy places "around the corner".  No matter where you camp, make your adventure special by researching the local county, towns or communities.

Search for places to explore near you.  Use this app both at home and on the road.  I use it while on the road for work to find places to get outdoors.
If you are looking to do day hikes while on the road, explore the All Trails App (also available for Android phones).  You can search out the park or location where you will be.  Sort hikes based on difficulty and read reviews.  Hiking is an excellent activity to do as a family.  Having a plan for your hikes can help you prepare as you are packing.

You can record your hike, walk or bike ride and rate the trail!
There are lots of ways to discover a location to explore.  Campendium is one way to find a new place to roll in and park your rig.  Follow other campers on Instagram and social media.  Pinterest also has links to park and campground reviews.  Finally, join camping groups on social media and ask for recommendations.  The more involved you become in the camping community, the more opportunities you have to investigate places you never knew you would love!

I learned about Inn Town Campground from listening to the Girl Camper Podcast.  We were able to camp here in July, and it was the trip of a lifetime!

Get Organized with Spreadsheets and Lists

I'm a Google Guru!  Google Sheets and Google Keep are two of my favorite tools to keep me organized when planning a trip.  I use Google sheets to plan my meals, keep track of monthly camping trips and more.  Google Keep allows you to create lists for shopping, packing and camper maintenance.  Both Google Sheets and Google Keep can be shared with other users to that more than one person can contribute to the trip plans.

Get Creative With Meal Planning (and this doesn't mean complicated)

Camping meals don't just have to be hobo packets and hot dogs.  I'm a fan of a good grilled burger, but enjoying a fresh meal outdoors with my family is a luxury.  I am away from home a lot for work.  I cherish every minute of my camping time for these little things like meals together.  Making memorable meals is important.  Look for ways to cook healthy and fresh meals that fuel the activities that you are doing together.  

We took Sunbasket meals to the campground in October.  This was a winner, and I highly recommend a meal subscription service for camping meals.  If you think meal subscription boxes are just for home cooks, think again.  These can be a camper's best friend!

Sun Basket meals were excellent for our fall camping trip.  We plan to use this again for camping!
Cook the meals that your family loves at the campground.  Grill a pizza or make a hearty soup in the crock pot.  But experiment with new ways to enjoy a meal around the table together.  Or, you may even choose to go to a restaurant if you are in a new region or place!  We like going out for seafood if we are on the coast.  Ask the campground for recommendations if you want to venture out and support the local economy.

Get Weather Savvy

Monitor the weather leading up to your trip.  I start checking the weather a couple of weeks away from our trip.  This helps us to plan to right clothes.  Just know that weather patterns will vary and change over time.

Monitor possible severe weather.  And if it is going to be storming on the day that you arrive and set up, monitor the weather so that you can set up around the weather patterns.  

Earlier this year, we were dodging rain for the first part of the trip.  We planned our departure time from home so that the rain would be mostly cleared by the time we arrived to set up.  By doing this, we arrived just as the sun was coming out and didn't have to set up in the rain after all.  It won't always work out like this, but weather apps can greatly help with planning around and for the weather.

The NOAA Weather App will send you notifications about the weather.
While I use my Apple weather app most of the time.  However, the NOAA Weather App has really detailed information that I think is better.  There is also the AccuWeather App that my friend Bryan uses.  The details do matter while camping.  Get a better weather app.  You can thank me for this tip later!

Know Where to Stop In and Fuel Up

If you are towing an RV, getting gas can be an issue.  There are three main apps that I hear campers talking about.  I tend to prefer two of them over the third.  Both the Loves App (Android) and Pilot/Flying J App (Android) are excellent for RV'ers.  Other campers recommend Gas Buddy.

Gas Buddy is different from the Loves and Pilot apps.  Gas Buddy is designed to help travelers plan their trip and track gas prices.  The Loves and Pilot apps show gas prices but also show more information about the particular stops. 

These apps show:
  • How far away you are from the station.
  • The price of gas.
  • Amenities - including propane, RV Dump Stations and more.
The Pilot App actually shows how many RV lanes the station has.  Plus, you can use your Good Sam membership in conjunction with your Pilot fuel purchases to save extra money.

Get the information you need from the Loves Travel App.

The amenities list is really helpful!  Find out if this station has an RV Dump Station and more.

Where you get gas and how you find these stations does matter.  We tried to get into a roadside station for gas this fall and both couldn't get gas and almost couldn't get out of there.  We have a tiny camper.  So, I can only imagine what would happen for someone towing a big rig.

What is a trip planning tip that has made a difference for you?  Do you have any favorite camping apps?  How you plan and the apps you use while on the road can make a difference.  It is the difference between struggling to figure it out in a moment of panic and having what you need at your fingertips.

The number one tip I have for any camper is to have fun!  Have fun planning, packing, setting up and enjoying the experience.  Find joy in every part of the journey.  Once I slowed down and allowed myself to enjoy the process of it all, camping became 100% better!  Who cares if it takes you longer to get to the campground or to set up or take down as long as you are having fun!

Until next time...

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