Planning & Advice



Essentials for a camping trip will vary depending on who’s going camping, and how they like to camp. The bottom line is that essentials for camping are the same as essentials ‘in real life’: food, water, and shelter. The types of food and shelter will vary according to your needs. And consider this idea: you may consider comfort to be an essential, but purists may not. Your idea of essentials may be very different from that of your neighbors.

When you are planning what foods to take, you’ll need to consider how close you will be to a safe water supply. You’ll also need to consider whether you will be driving into a camp site, or hiking in. Driving versus hiking can make a big difference in the type of fuel you’ll want to carry, the amount of water, and even the type, number, and size of the pots to cook the food.

In general, you’ll want to have a gallon of water available per person per day. Some of that water will be used for drinking; some will be used for washing, and some will be used for general clean-ups. If you are nursing a baby or have an infant, you’ll need to have more water available. If you don’t have an infant, and if you don’t mind washing off in a stream, you may be able to do with less. One thing is clear, though: if you don’t have safe running water in your campsite, you’ll need to bring it with you, making a water container of some kind an essential.

Most people find that they need more calories when camping than they do at home. The fresh air, hiking, swimming, and other outdoor activities burn calories and stimulate appetites. You’ll need to plan meals in tune with the method of camping you prefer. If you’re backpacking, freeze-dried meals will be more appropriate than steaks and burgers. If you’re staying in a camper or RV, you’ll easily be able to stock a fridge and bring more food. Tent campers find themselves in the middle ground, and their food choices will be governed by whether or not they are hiking in or driving.

Shelter can be anything from au natural under the stars, to sleeping in a queen sized bed in a decked out RV. In general, the older you are the more ‘comfort’ you’re going to want in your shelter, so take your age and your back into consideration as well as your budget when you’re deciding whether to backpack, sleep in a tent, or take a pickup truck or an RV. Sleeping features can be anything from a blanket on the ground and one on top, to the aforementioned queen-sized bed. Many people prefer sleeping bags. If you buy bags, you may want to be sure that two bags can be zipped together so you can snuggle with your honey, and maybe even with a toddler or two.

Camping doesn’t have to be expensive, or extensive, or complicated. All you need is food, water, shelter, and a good attitude!