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If you are looking for something new and exciting to do with the family this weekend, car camping may be just what you need. This article provides a handy checklist first-time car campers can use to enjoy a wonderful family adventure.

Car Camping with the Family – Use This Handy Checklist for a Fun and Successful First-Time Adventure

There is something magical about embarking on a trip into the wilderness with nothing but the clothes on your back and a well-stocked backpack. Back-country hiking is a wonderful way to commune with nature and get in touch with your wild side, but it may not be possible with a couple of kids in tow.

If you love to camp and hike but have a family to think about, you might want to think about car camping. Car camping can give you the same sense of fun and adventure, but with a touch of comfort. Car camping is a great way to introduce reluctant spouses and young children to the joys of camping, especially if you prepare carefully for your first adventure.

Whether you are camping with a couple of kids or just hitting the trails with your significant other, you can use this handy checklist to make sure your first trip is a fun and successful one.

Home Sweet Tent

You may be using your car to transport and stow your gear, but you will not be sleeping there. Here are the essential shelter items you need to pack before you leave home.

  • A suitably-sized tent
  • Tent poles
  • Tarp or ground cloth (bring a second cloth just to make sure)
  • Rain fly
  • Sleeping bags or sleeping pads
  • Camp chairs
  • Blankets
  • Pillows and pillow cases

Cook Up Some Great Meals

There is nothing like enjoying a home-cooked meal over a roaring fire. Be sure to pack these essential items in your car So you can enjoy some true campground cooking.

  • Camp stove and fuel
  • Matches and lighters
  • Camp cookware
  • Utensils
  • Plates and bowls
  • Garbage bags for cleaning up
  • Resealable bags in various sizes
  • Environmentally-safe soaps and quality sponges
  • A roll of paper towels
  • Multi-tool with can opener, knife, bottle opener, etc.
  • A bucket for cleaning up and washing dishes
  • A cooler and a bag of ice
  • Drinking water
  • Containers for transporting water
  • Aluminum foil and/or plastic wrap
  • Salt and pepper
  • Cooking oil
  • Coffee, creamer and sugar
  • Graham crackers, chocolate and marshmallows for homemade s’mores

Food for the Trail

You will need foods that are lightweight and easy to transport. Here are some trail foods to consider.

  • Energy bars or protein bars
  • Dried fruit
  • Commercial or homemade trail mix

Safety First

No one wants to get hurt while camping, but it is important to be prepared. Here are some essential safety items every car camper needs.

  • A fully stocked first aid kit
  • Bug repellent
  • Sunscreen
  • Citronella sticks and candles
  • Duct tape for fast repairs around camp
  • Aloe vera gel for treating sunburn
  • Calamine lotion for poison ivy and rashes
  • Hydrocortisone cream
  • Moleskin to treat blisters
  • Water filtration system and/or water purification tablets
  • Whistles for summoning help (every member of your party should have their own)
  • A set of walkie-talkies or two-way radios (cell phones may not work on the trail)
  • A headlamp for each member of your party
  • Flashlights and extra batteries
  • Allergy medications
  • Over-the-counter pain relievers
  • A solar charger for your cell phone

Personal Hygiene

One of the best things about car camping is that you can bring along some of the comforts of home. Some modern campgrounds even have heated bathrooms and electricity. Here are some of the comfort and personal hygiene items that belong in your camping car.

  • Towels and washcloths
  • Environmentally-safe shampoos, soaps and conditioners
  • Toothbrushes and toothpaste
  • Toilet paper and wet wipes

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