I have written several posts about camping food. If your kids are anything like me, this is of major concern. But in this post I would like to focus on everything else that has to be packed. As with the food, advanced planning is the key to sanity.
The first time I packed us all up for a family camping trip I figured out why my mom didn’t like camping. It is a lot of work when you are the grown up! Over the years, I have streamlined the process considerably. We go camping several times every summer and the things that need to go are pretty much the same every time.
So the solution to easy camping is to keep as much packed as possible.
Other than camping trips, how often do you really need lanterns, cooks stoves and sleeping bags? I store all of these things on two shelves in my garage. The top shelf holds the sleeping bags, mattress pads, and tent. The shelf below stores my two tote bags of gear, the camp stove, and the large water jug. When it is time to pack, I just transfer the items to their designated spot in or on the car.
Some people use large Rubbermaid boxes, but I find that it wastes a lot of space in my Prius. Instead I use two large utility totes to store most of my gear. One holds all cooking essentials (dishes, soap, coconut oil, tea, etc). The other contains the lantern, rope, bungee cords, and other miscellaneous non-perishables. These are light and flexible and the shape fits well in my car. Below one of the totes is my camp stove. Next to them are the large backpacks that contain all of our clothes and an overnight case (which is kept packed under the sink). This leaves about a foot of space, perfect for a cooler and a bag of other food/random forgotten items. The car-top carrier is used for the sleeping bag, mats, tent, and chairs (when I bother to take them). I think of car packing as a practical game of Tetris. Everything has a place, making locating stuff at the campsite easy for everyone.
I find the the more organized I am, the more I enjoy the trip. Keeping as much packed and ready has drastically reduced my pre-trip stress. I hope these ideas will do the same for you.