Summer camping season is officially here! The parks are starting to fill up with weekend hikers and kayakers and campers galore. As you prepare to dust off the old camping tote or clean up the RV for summer, we've got some advice to help you make the most of your time in the great outdoors.
1. Book in Advance
We've learned this lesson the hard way. Do not expect to simply waltz into a campground on a Friday night. Weekends are the busiest, and it pays to reserve online or over the phone. Keep in mind: most state parks will not allow you to reserve online the same day. We recommend doing it a week in advance if possible, but give yourself no less than three days. If it's a holiday, book further out. Chances are you've got competition for the camp site!
2. Inspect your Gear
Nothing is worse then getting to the campground and realizing the tent has a hole in it or the hose nozzle is bent from sitting in the shed all winter. Take the time to look over your essential gear that's been in storage and make sure it's ready to go.
3. test drive it
RVs in particular need to be hooked up to your towing vehicle and inspected for any signs that wheel bearings, tires or leaf springs need a tune up. Safety first is always a good idea, so make sure she's ready to hit the road for the lake or park. And while you're at it, practice set up and take down at least once. It's the only way to know for sure that you've got what you need and that you've repacked correctly for the season.
4. Stock Up
Buy dry goods and non-perishable items that you know you'll want / need on your next camping trip and store them in an airtight container or storage bin. Things like ketchup packets, graham crackers, marshmallows, spices, oatmeal and more are easy to keep handy and grab and go. Plus you won't have to waste time pondering whether or not you've got all the stuff to make fresh smores.
5. Plan Camp-Friendly Recipes
The best part of camping season is, undoubtedly, the food. After the first few spins at the state park, you might find regular hot dogs just aren't cutting it. Branch out and try some other grilling or campfire recipes. We love foil packet dinners for just this occasion. The possibilities for fillings, veggies and more are endless!
6. Don't Forget the Toiletries
Stock up on new shampoo, conditioner and shower shoes for the season. When we used to weekend camp, we never took advantage of the free shower facilities and bath houses. But if you're planning a rigorous hike or just want to feel fresh in the morning, a nice shower caddy + towel can go a long way towards making the great outdoors comfortable again.
7. Organize, Organize, Organize
If you travel with an RV or pop-up, then you know that even when you're planning a short weekend trip, space is a luxury. We recommend clearing an afternoon to really organize your RV. Magnetic knife racks and spice jars are great for tidying up the kitchen counter. We also love organization rods and systems that use S-hooks for hanging towels, hats and more.
8. Assign Roles
Set up and take down are inevitable when it comes to camping of any kind. We find that assigning roles before you pull into the park can really expedite the process and alleviate any tension about who is doing more or less. Especially if you're planning on pulling in after sunset, discuss how you can help each other before hand and talk about who will handle which tasks.
9. Explore Your Park
As lame as it sounds, remember to really max out the opportunities at your state park. Grab a campground map and hit the trails or visit the interpretive center. There are endless opportunities to learn something new each time you go out.