"It takes wisdom to have a good family, and it takes understanding to make it strong." - Proverbs 24:3

Monday, June 13, 2011

How To: take a spontaneous camping trip

Thursday night Matt and I found out we would be toddler-free for the evening on Saturday. Here is a snippet of our conversation that night in bed...

Me: What do you want to do on Saturday?
Matt: Let's go camping!
Me: Yes!

It didn't occur to me until Friday when I was talking to my friend Heidi that that may sound crazy to some people. Here is a part of that conversation...

Heidi: What are you doing tomorrow?
Me: Matt and I are going camping.
Heidi: What? What do you mean? For the night? Like, you're going to set up a tent and everything?!
Me: Uh, yes!
Heidi: What a waste of a perfectly good Saturday night!

Granted, some people are just not "campers". :) I think there are a lot of people though, who want to camp but are overwhelmed by the thought of all the work camping can be. That is true. Sometimes. Here are some tips on how to enjoy a last-minute over-nighter in the woods and have it be relaxing!

Be prepared. I know, right? That seems like a lame one, but here's what I mean: make a camp box. Take a plastic bin with a lid and add the following...
  • Box of matches
  • Set of plates, mugs and utensils for each camper
  • Sponge
  • Dish soap (eco-friendly, please)
  • Heavy pot
  • Foil
  • Barbecue tools
  • Wooden spoon
  • Perculator
  • Instant coffee, tea bags and instant hot chocolate
  • Water bottle with a filter
  • First aid kit
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Roll of toilet paper
  • Roll of paper towels
  • Wine opener
  • Can opener
  • Deck of playing cards
  • Notepad and pen
  • Poncho(s)
  • Rope
  • Clothespins
  • Utility knife
Store your camp box next to your tent, sleeping bags, lantern, propane, camp chairs, tarp and ice chest so that when you are ready to pack up, you can just throw everything in the trunk in less than two minutes.

Keep it simple. The food, that is. For this one-night camping trip, our menu consisted of hot dogs, cole slaw (you could just pick up pre-made potato or macaroni salad) and baked beans for dinner, s'mores for dessert, and muffins, instant oatmeal and fruit for breakfast. Assuming you had NOTHING in your pantry, here is your entire grocery list...
  • hot dogs (or, if you're fancy, chicken apple sausages... mmm...)
  • buns
  • deli potato/macaroni salad
  • can of baked beans
  • bag of chips
  • beer/wine
  • muffins
  • bananas
  • chocolate bar
  • marshmallows
  • graham crackers
  • instant oatmeal
  • orange juice
  • ice
Pack up your vehicle and head to the store on your way out of town. We ended up having everything we needed for this trip!

Pack lightly. If you've had a baby, you packed a hospital bag. Same idea here, people. Just bring the basics and don't freak out if you've forgotten something. Say it with me, "It's just one night." Um, hypothetically, if I were to keep an over-night camping bag packed at all times, this is what would be in it...
  • wool sweater
  • wool socks
  • flannel pj pants
  • cami
  • flip flops
  • shorts
  • swim suit
  • towel
  • toothbrush and toothpaste
  • brush and hair ties
  • sun screen
  • baseball cap
  • beanie
It all fits nicely in a small duffle bag with my pillow and water-resistant wind breaker secured on top. Since we are usually leaving late-afternoon after work on a Saturday, I wear jeans because it will probably be cool when we get there. Add to that a tank top, long-sleeved shirt, ankle socks, sneakers, and sunglasses, and I'm good to go.

Relax. Enjoy the drive. Play car games. Open up that bottle of wine as soon as you get there, take a few pictures, watch the sunset over the trees, and kick some butt in rummy. Or Go Fish. Your choice. :)

Next month's "How To" installment-- camping with toddlers... wish me luck...


  1. I LOVE camping... Especially camping without a toddler. Glad you guys had fun!!

  2. I'm most definitely with Heidi on this one, but glad you had fun :)

  3. Oh how fun! I wanna take a quick camping trip now... especially since we finally have some good weather.

  4. Oh to camp without kids. *Sigh.*


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