Checklist – Preparing for Camping

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Does preparing for a camping trip seem to take longer than the actual camping trip itself? And even then, you arrive at the campsite and realize you've forgotten something important. If that sounds familiar, then check out our getting ready for camping checklist.

Whether you are going camping or on an overseas holiday, good preparation will help you make the most of your trip.
Preparing for a camping trip isn't just about your camping setup and gathering that all together. Although important, you also need to attend to all of the housekeeping tasks that can often get overlooked in the 101 things you feel you need to do before you head off.

Our getting ready for camping checklist provides our members with a timeline to help speed up, as well as smooth out, the process so it doesn’t feel like this massive all week job that seems to take longer than the actual camping trip itself. If you like to be able to head off at the drop of a hat, a lot of the steps in our checklist could be done at anytime, and well in advance of your departure date.

An organised and step by step approach to preparing for a camping trip can really save you time and stress, and you will be reassured that nothing important is left behind. As we've mentioned throughout the website, the responsibility shouldn’t be left to just one person. Everyone should have at least one task.

Print your checklist, or download a customisable version
You can print a simplified one page PDF copy of this checklist. An editable document is coming soon.

Any time between your previous camping trip and d-day

1: Organise, repair and replenish
In the rush of the last campsite pack up, you will most likely not have been able to pack your gear and the car as well as you did when you left home. Items will be misplaced or just jammed into the car wherever they fit. Sooner rather than later (but any time before departure day):

  • Update your packing checklist and procedures from your previous trip notes, and keep copies in your camping storage area so you can easily find them.
  • Using the checklist as a guide, return items to their rightful bag or container, and replenish items that have been lost, used up or are in short supply.
  • Do any necessary repairs and cleaning.
  • Wash and return camping specific clothes and linen to the storage area.
  • Sharpen the kitchen knife and check the condition of utensils, tools and tent pegs / stakes
  • Refill the gas bottle.
  • A place for everything and everything in its place! See more about our camping storage solution HERE.

During the week prior to d-day

2: Housekeeping
A camping getaway involves a lot of organising of camping gear, to the point where some of the important housekeeping duties can be overlooked. In the days before you head off:

  • Cancel newspapers and other deliveries.
  • Pay bills due while you are away.
  • Attend to any other "paperwork".
  • Check your insurances (house, contents, ambulance, travel?) are paid up.
  • Wash and dry any other clothes and linen you might be taking with you and set them aside.
  • Tell someone where you are going and how long you will be away.
  • Take a photo of your checklist on your smart phone to refer to when you are away in case you (inevitably) lose it.

3: Carkeeping
Loaded with all of your camping gear, your car will be carrying much more than it would on a typical trip around town. The car you drive is THE most important part of your camping gear and is really the key to safely getting you and your family from A to B, often over long distances. Again, before you head off:

  • Check your car registration and required insurances (car, roadside assist, 4-wd, etc) are paid up. Know what you are and are not covered for and have the reference numbers accessible in electronic and paper form.
  • Check the condition of your car. Does it need a tune-up / service? Is it road worthy? If you are a car enthusiast, you may know what else to check for, but if in doubt, see your mechanic.
  • Check the tyres – do they have good tread and are they properly inflated? Check also the state of your spare tyre and your car tool kit.
  • Check the car fuel, water and oil. A full tank of fuel means you are on the road with no delays.
  • Make sure you are not likely to overload your car. If in doubt, have a look at our payload article and calculate the weight of your car load HERE.

4: Plan your journey
A well planned journey can save you time and stress and help you to take full advantage of your trip. Consider your goals and skill level, and those of your group, and choose an appropriate destination and program of activities.

  • Confirm your campsite booking.
  • Think about the activities you would like to do and check the information and "what's on" websites and publications for the local area. Local council websites are also a good source of information.
  • Research the local information, maps and weather forecasts, and don't assume you will always have WiFi.
  • Ensure you are properly equipped for your journey with the right weather appropriate camping gear, technical skills, food and drinks and first aid kit.
  • Ensure everyone in your travel party is engaged, on the same page, and knows what to expect.
  • Allow plenty of time to travel and to set up camp.
  • If you have a choice, decide on the icebox / fridge and gas cooker you will be taking and how they will be powered.
  • Print a copy of your packing checklist, cross off any bulky / heavy items you definitely won't need for the upcoming trip and add anything you would like to take that is not on the list. Use this list to also make notes as you go about what to buy, do or cook for that trip, and also what you want to permanently add to or subtract from the list for the future.
  • In remote areas, have available locations of service stations and rest stops. Again, don't assume you will always have Wifi.

5: Plan your menu
Our camp kitchen might on the surface appear to be a little limiting, but we have plenty of recipe options, and many more if you cook over a campfire. Before your trip:

  • Cook a double batch of a meal and freeze half to serve for dinner on your first or second night.
  • Decide on a menu of flexible and easy meals using readily available ingredients that you can cook in your camp kitchen, and allow for some flexibility for a change of plans.
  • Stock your camping pantry with the required long life ingredients for the planned recipes, including any specific spice and sauce mixes needed for the dishes.

6: Freeze items
Freeze items in advance of your departure to be transferred to your fridge before you leave to help keep your the fridge / icebox cool, including:

  • Freeze ice blocks using ice cream containers.
  • Freeze water bottles to also use later for drinking water.

One to two days before d-day

7: Recharge your electronics
Set up a charging station for all of your rechargeable items to run off a power board. That way you can transfer the items to your travel bags, knowing all of the right cables are accounted for as well. Charge solar powered items as well. This includes:

  • Smart phones, tablets and portable speakers etc.
  • Rechargeable batteries and power packs
  • Rechargeable lights, including any solar powered devices

8: Pack your clothing and bedding

  • Pack your sleeping gear, including inflatable airbeds and sleeping bags, into their compression bags, and if transporting them in larger bags as we suggest, pack them into those bags.
  • Clothes packing can take a lot of unnecessary time, and so we try to pack close to d-day to take advantage of the known weather forecast, and to avoid double handling. Having a "camping clothes capsule" of the regular clothes you might take camping with you also helps at packing time. I haven't actually yet put one together but it is on my to-do list.

9: Cool down your icebox or fridge

  • If using an icebox, the night before you leave, cool it down overnight with frozen bottles or ice blocks. In the morning, refresh with more frozen bottles / blocks for the road trip.
  • If using a fridge, run it off the mains power for at least 24 hours.
  • While you're at it, refrigerate or freeze your drinking water bottles for the trip.

Departure day

Departure day can be a big job, but an organised approach can really help and get you safely on the road quicker. If your gear is in its rightful place, and you know exactly how / where it will be packed and transported, you can just transfer the items directly to the car without any double handling. You could also do most of the car packing and loading on the day before as well, especially if you want to get an early start.

10: Packing the car and getting on the road

  • Allow sufficient time for travel, travel breaks and to setup camp in the daylight
  • Transfer any food and drinks you will be taking from the refrigerator and freezer to the camp fridge / icebox, including the frozen meal and frozen bottles and blocks (if applicable).
  • Remove from the car anything you won't need for the trip.
  • Pack and load the car! For more details on this, see our packing your car section.
  • Transfer to the car your water bottles, hand luggage and other items you want to take.
  • Run through your checklist one final time to make sure everything is packed.
  • To avoid double handling, neaten the camping storage area to allow camping items to be returned directly to their rightful place. A tidy up of the house will be a welcome sight on your return home as well.
  • Most importantly, check your gear restraints before you leave and after 10 minutes on the road.