When it comes to having a stellar car camping experience, there is one thing you’ll want to prioritize: comfort. These days, we’re all in need of a digital detox. After months of shelter in place, quality time with Mother Nature is good for the mind, body, and soul. Still, disconnecting is a lot more enjoyable when you properly prepare.
Choosing the right camping destination is the first thing to check off the list. Is your ideal spot rocky, sandy, hot, or wet? Is it near basic amenities like a gas station or grocery store? Will you be sharing space with other campers, or all alone with the stars and wildlife? These are important factors to keep in mind when planning for comfort.
Depending on your camping style, there is good noise, and there is bad noise. Good noise includes things like running water, crickets, and wind blowing through the trees. Bad noise includes noisy generators, late-night neighbors, and traffic. While doing your research, look for a more secluded campsite with space for each group to enjoy their privacy or late-night laughter without disturbing others. One helpful way to avoid unwanted noise is camping inside your car or van. If open-air cots, hammocks, and tents are your vibe, consider packing earplugs for nighttime.
Funny enough, camping can involve a lot of sitting or lying around. Between activities like hiking, biking, and swimming, make sure you have a comfortable place to sit and sleep by packing the right furniture.
- Outdoor Mat/Rug – This is an optional item, but you might find your sitting area more comfortable if you have a large waterproof mat to sit on, especially if you’re camping on grass which often conceals ticks and can cause allergic reactions like sneezing or rashes.
- Folding Chairs – There are so many fun camping chairs nowadays. From inflatable and foldable to loungers and hangers, choose your favorite way to chill out and bring an extra for the friend who always forgets.
- Multifunctional Cooler – Coolers can double as side tables, card tables, or cup holders. While packing your favorite snacks and drinks, look for a cooler that can serve you in more ways than one.
- Plastic Folding Table – A plastic folding table is clutch for any overnight stay in the outdoors. Keeping food off the ground is important for keeping pests at bay. Plus, it’s nice for organizing frequently used items and prepping for activities without having to bend over or dig around in the car. Plastic and foldable are best for easy cleaning and storage.
- Umbrella or Tarp – Sunshine is the best camping weather, but it can get intense if you don’t have any relief. Pack a large umbrella to use for shade. Tarps also make for great DIY shades; just pack some rope or bungee cords, and you’ll be able to block the sun for the rest of your group.
- Inflatable Mattress – No matter your preferred mattress style – firm or soft – sleeping on the dirt is down-right uncomfortable. Pack an inflatable mattress for your tent or, if you have the proper setup, the top of your car or van.
- Sleeping Pad – If an inflatable mattress is too much of a hassle for you, a simple sleeping pad rolls up nicely and packs well for hike-able campsites.
Just about anyone can make it through a fun day of outdoor activities, but the real test comes at night. Having comfortable sleeping arrangements might be the most important thing you plan if you want to have a successful experience. As mentioned before, know your noise tolerance and plan accordingly. Then, be sure you’ve packed whatever you need to make your sleeping surface agreeable. With these ducks in a row, there are a few other tips that will make your snooze more comfortable.
- Leveling Blocks – When you’re sleeping in your car, you want to be sure you’ve parked on a level surface, which isn’t always easy to find. Just like eating on an uneven dinner table isn’t much fun, sleeping in an uneven car or RV is also frustrating. Pack leveling blocks in case one of your wheels needs a little extra lift.
- Head Lamp – Are you the type that frequently gets up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom? This isn’t something you want to do in an unfamiliar place, near strangers, and in the pitch black of night. Pack yourself a flashlight or headlamp for midnight tasks.
- Tent Fan – This might seem like an accessory for posh campers, but after a night of dry heat or dripping humidity, you’ll wish you had packed a small fan to hang for circulation. Simple comforts like a tent fan can make or break the camping experience. You can also just crack a window, but be prepared to wake up with bug bites.
- Window Shades or Coverings – Car or van camping can be one of the safest and most comfortable ways to sleep outdoors, but for extra safety and comfort, you’ll want a way to block your windows from a nosey neighbor or the sun. (Sometimes, the moon can be really bright too).
It’s fun to get a little dirty, but sitting in dirty sweat…not so fun. Let’s also remember how much flies and mosquitos love campsites. It may seem like cleanliness is against the almighty camping rules, but having a few items on hand to keep you and your stuff clean and tidy will make your car camping experience much more comfortable; not to mention a lot less smelly and sticky.
- Water – Believe it or not, many campgrounds don’t have clean running water. Reduce plastic waste by packing a water cooler and filling up a reusable water bottle throughout the day.
- Outdoor Shower – If your plans include any kind of activity other than sitting, an outdoor shower could come as sweet relief at the end of the day. There are a variety of options out there, but most involve a bag you fill and hang from the top of your car or from a tree. Set your shower bag in the sun if you want a warm shower by the end of the day and make sure to use eco-friendly soaps.
- Cleansing Wipes – For a quick clean, pack biodegradable wipes. Whenever you’re enjoying an extended stay in the outdoors, using nature-safe products is extremely important. Whether it’s for your body or your stuff, wipes will come in handy when you’re feeling grubby.
- Toilet Paper – There really is toilet paper made specifically for campers. Just like cleansing wipes, having a roll of biodegradable toilet paper will be extremely helpful when you have to go on the go. For next-level camping comfort, get yourself an affordable and portable camping toilet like the Double Doodie toilet with bags and bio-gel.
- Trash Bags – Don’t leave home without packing a roll of compostable trash bags. The idea is to leave the campsite as if you were never there. No-one likes a litterbug; except maybe raccoons.