3 Steps for Easier Camping Prep

I start collecting and organizing my camping gear several days before we leave.  My stash normally starts with my storage drawers of clothes at the door.
All of the prep work that goes into a camping trip can be stressful, but not if you are organized and have a plan.  I start several days ahead.  I'm a planner.  This makes trips manageable and enjoyable for me.  Today I'm sharing some of my tips that help make planning a breeze.

If you feel like you are running around like a mad person the night before you head out or even the day of your trip, STOP.  Just don't.  First, have a plan.  Do one thing each day before the trip to spread out the work so that you are not doing so much work all at once.  It makes it all manageable and less work all at once.  Below is a typical schedule for how I prep for our trips the week before we go.

  • One week ahead - Plan your meals.  I use Google Sheets to plan my meals and create a master spreadsheet of my recipes for needed grocery items.
  • 4 to 5 days ahead - Schedule a grocery pick up order.  Kroger now will even deliver your order to your house.  You could even pick your food on the way to the campground if you prefer.  
  • 2 to 3 days ahead - Start packing your clothes.  For older children and adults, have each one pack their own clothes.
  • 1 to 2 days ahead - Pack non-perishable food items and other camping items that you will need that are not in your camper.
  • The night before - Prep perishable food and pack your coolers and tow vehicle.
I collect non-perishables and other items in baskets to be organized during the week.


When it comes to organizing all of your camping gear, I start gathering my gear and things I need about a week ahead.  This starts with my food prep.  I have several sample menus on my Lists and Menus page.  But once my meals are planned and organized into a spreadsheet, I can create an order.  Ordering meals online for pick up really saves me time and money.  I can also edit my order up until midnight of the night before I pick up the order.  If you have not tried this, its a feature you might fall in love with this camping season.

Next, I start to organize all of my gear and packing items.  I have plastic containers that we pack our clothes in.  My husband brings these into our house, and we pack our clothes 2 or 3 days out from our trip.  Once this task is done, we don't have to think about it anymore.

Last, I go through and collect any other camping gear that is not stored in my camper.  I place it on top of my clothing bins and centrally contain this all to one area of my house.  Everything is stacked right there so that it is ready to load once it is time to move on to that step.  It's a gradual process that happens over several days.  We aren't rushing around.  Each day we are just doing a little more.

The night before we leave I prep all of my perishable food to pack in the cooler.

Food Prep

Food prep is divided into two categories.  
  1. Non-Perishables - When I am organizing all of my other gear, I may grab a few non-perishable items that I have and place them into a basket that I am packing.  These items are packed both throughout the week and when I get my grocery order in.
  2. Perishable - The majority of this work is done the night before the trip.  This is when I prep food and pack it into the cooler.

Non Perishables
Create dry mixes for pancakes and other items that you may be cooking on the road.  I don't take lots of ingredients with me.  So, I pack just what I need.  If I am going to make a cobbler or other item, I pre-measure and label a container with what I need.

Pre-cool your cooler the night before.  You can at least pack it with some of your items with things like canned drinks and ice.

Perishable Items
I prep what I can at home to make meals at the campground easy.  If I am making enchilada casserole, I brown the ground meat at home and freeze in a bag to take with us.  I pre-make any sauces that I might need.  The night before we go is when I do much of my perishable prep that is packed into the cooler to go.  This eliminates the need to open lots of cans at the campground and do a lot of work there.

If you are using a roto-molded cooler, pre-chill your cooler with some of your items the night before.  Then you can finish filling it up the morning you leave.  Top it off with fresh ice.

Packing the Car

Pack the night before if you can.  I load everything we can into the car the night before.  Part of the reason I do a little each night the week of our trip is so that we can have everything ready to go into the car before we hit the bed.  This means that the morning of our trip we can just hitch up and go.  Nothing makes that day we travel longer than having to load up, hitch up, drive and then set up.  If you spread it all out, it is all much more manageable and much less work all at once.

3 Tips for Easier Prep

  1. Get Organized - Spread your work out over several days and make your work lighter.  Take advantage of services like curbside pick up or grocery delivery so that you are doing everything yourself.  Be sure that you have listed so that you can keep track of what you need.
  2. Prep Your Food - Make your food prep manageable by breaking it into perishable and non-perishable work.  Organize to divide and conquer these tasks.
  3. Pack Ahead - Don't pack the day of your trip so that you won't have such a long day on the day that you travel.
Maybe this all seems like a lot of work.  It is.  But it's worth it.  And when you are enjoying the pay off of your hard work on your trip, you will know that it was the right thing to do.  You can always give everyone a job to do and delegate these tasks if you have older children.  It doesn't take a lot of steps.  It just takes the right ones to make it work for you.

Until next time...

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  1. This is excellent advice. I'm afraid I am one that does most of this all in the hours before we leave. I'm definitely going to start doing this a week before. Last time out we forgot the keys to the dang camper and thought we were going to be without a door for the night! Fortunately our grown daughters were leaving a few hours after my husband did and I and swung by our house to pick them up. Very stressful!!!


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