Cheap Travel Tips – Car Camping Do’s and Don’ts

If done effectively, car camping can be a godsend. If not, car camping has the potential to suck all the life out of your trip. So let’s go over the things you can do (and avoid) to make sure you’re car camping experience is tippy-top.

Do – Business Up Front, Party in the Back – The most important part of packing your vehicle is organizing. When packing the car, I start by separating what will go in the cab and what will stay in the trash. The main rule of thumb here is to keep anything in the cab that you or your passenger(s) may need to grab while driving. Nobody wants to pull over just to grab a phone charger from the trunk. Things to include up front: chargers, sunglasses, food, cameras, a blanket, pillows, Tylenol, Zyrtec, or any other medicines you may need, lots of water, a sweatshirt or jacket. I leave anything else in the trunk. This includes my bag with all my clothes as well as toiletries, and anything else you may need for your trip. If it’s something you will only need if you have to pull over, it goes in the trunk.

Do – Pick the Right Vehicle – I have to vehicle options when I go on a trip. A 2009 Toyota Corolla, and a 2005 Chevy Tahoe. The Corolla is great for two people, but if you plan to bring any more than two people, it’s just not going to work for car camping. The biggest concern with people is figuring out where everyone will sleep, and you simply cannot sleep three in a Corolla. The Tahoe, on the other hand, is like a miniature house. Personally, I have zero back seats set up in the back, and instead have a futon mattress that’s usually for my dog. When I need to camp though, the Tahoe is much more comfortable, the trade-off being gas mileage. For money sake, we almost always use the Corolla for road trips. So when you’re determining which car you should take, the biggest considerations are the amount of people in your travel party, the level of comfort you demand, how much stuff you are taking, and how far you plan to go.

Do – Get Your Car Checked Out Before Leaving This one should go for any road trip, but get your car looked at by a mechanic you trust before you leave. You never want to be stranded in another city (and god forbid on the side of the interstate) trying to get your car fixed. Let your mechanic know exactly how far your going and what sort of weather and terrain you anticipate running in to.

Don’t – Pack Too Much Food – If I’m car camping, I’m going to bring my  own food. It’s just cheaper. That being said, it’s smarter to buy more groceries later than be stuck with a car full of food. If you must bring a cooler, go ahead, but life is so much simpler if you avoid any foods you need to keep cool. Stopping to ice the cooler can get really annoying.

Don’t – Forget Where You’re Sleeping  – If you’re going to sleep in your car, treat it like your bed. Regularly get rid of trash, and keep it clean. Also, if you’re sleeping in a car, chances are you will sleep by scooting your seat all the way back and leaning the seat back. When you’re packing your car, make sure you can do this without rearranging the whole vehicle. You don’t want to be ready to sleep and have to move everything just to get comfortable.


So what did I miss? I’m sure there’s a million other little things that I could bring up, but what’s important to you when you car camp? If you’re going to car camp soon, let me know if this list helps you!

Image courtesy of Pixabay, creative commons.

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