Road trips are the ultimate way to see your country or state from the comfort and ease of your vehicle, with the freedom of your timeframe, itinerary and budget. It’s a chance to see new places, gain new experiences and discover what makes this country great. And throw in some camping and you’ll get an even more natural outdoor loving experience.
When I was 10 years old, my parents decided to pull me out of school for six months and do a cross country road trip though the US and Canada. The three of us piled in our VW Vanagon and hit the road and to this day it’s one of my most cherished and loved experiences. I mean how lucky was I to camp in wild and natural lands, visit cities and historical locations and experience other places and events that make the US and Canada spectacular.
I realize not everyone can just take six months off and hit the road and camp, but whatever your timeframe, budget and dream destination is, this is your year to do some camping and take a road trip!
In this article I’ll talk about some of the essential basics on planning your dream camping road trip. We’ll talk about logistics, research and what to pack. So, grab your map, a notebook and pen and let’s start planning your ultimate camping road trip.
Destination. Pick a destination that you’ve always dreamed of seeing. Have you thought about camping among the giants of the Redwoods? Or traveling to some of the highest mountain peaks in Colorado? Or maybe just getting to know your own backyard a little bit better.
Whatever your destination is, you get to pick it. And pick somewhere that gets you excited and interested and has the activities, sights and camping that you’re looking for.
Budget. This of course can be the deciding factor for just about any road trip. But the great news is, you’re camping and that automatically makes it less expensive than staying in motels or Airbnb’s.
If your budget is a little tighter, then choose a destination that’s closer, involves less spending on the way out and maybe some free camping. If you’re budget is bigger, then go bigger. Find activities and events to do, stay in the National Park as opposed to free camping in non-developed campgrounds.
Either way, plan a budget and stick to it so you’ll be less stressed about money and more relaxed on your trip.
Itinerary. How are you going to get to your destination? Do you want to get there fast and take freeways, or take your time and see the sights? This is something that you should plan ahead and have mapped out.
There are tons of great apps and technology that make this easy like pinning on Googlemaps, Roadtrippers or Roadside America. But, always bring along a paper map because you never know what kind of reception you’ll have and besides paper maps are easy to use and give you that road trip feel.
Research. Know before you go. Do you need to make reservations at your campgrounds? What activities are there to do? What’s the weather going to be like? It’s great to research and know what you’re getting yourself into so you can make the most of your time and not miss out.
With that being said, give yourself a little extra time and freedom. Some of the best memories and adventures are made when you least expect them, so be flexible.
Vehicle ready. Make sure that your vehicle is in great working condition. Road trips can put a lot of miles on your car and if you’re looking for dirt roads, that can add more wear and tear. So, take your car in and have it tuned up, make sure fluids are topped off and bring along a few extras so you can have a relaxing time without any mechanical issues.
Entertainment. Road trips naturally involve a bit of time in the car, so bring some entertainment. Make a playlist or two that keep you motivated, awake and singing. Pod casts are a great way to be entertained or maybe learn something new.
If you’re traveling with others, play games. The License Plate Game, Alphabet Game, I spy, 20 Questions are all easy and everyone can get involved.
And of course, conversation. Spend this time to get to know your travel mates, catch up on what’s going on, relive old memories and stories or talk about future plans and goals. Get connected.
Packing. Make your packing list ahead of time. Make sure that you have all your camping equipment, food, first aid and clothing on your checklist. It’s easy to pack too much, so keep it simple and take what you need. Chances are you’ll be near or in a town at some point and can always restock.
And make sure if all fits. Do a trial run and prepack your car before you hit the road so you can make sure everything fits. There’s nothing worse than being ready to go and having to waste time repacking.
Whatever your budget, timeframe and destination, camping road trips give you the ultimate opportunity to experience new places, adventures, sites and all from the comfort of your own car and tent. Make this summer your summer to get outside in nature and see your own beautiful and unique country.