Car camping is a great way to unplug, spend quality time with loved ones, and explore some of the most beautiful places in the world. It’s also an incredibly affordable way to vacation. Whether you’re planning your first car camping trip or your tenth, these tips will help ensure you have a safe and enjoyable experience.

Choose Your Destination Wisely

Where you decide to go car camping is the most crucial factor when it comes to having an enjoyable experience. While there are plenty of amazing places to explore, choosing a destination that fits within your comfort zone and budget is key. Before booking any campsite reservations or packing up the car, make sure you research different destinations and their associated rules and regulations.

If you’re an experienced car camper, you may want to consider a more remote destination or one that is difficult to get to without your vehicle. On the flip side, if you’re a beginner and don’t feel comfortable tackling tougher terrain or remote areas, there are plenty of accessible campgrounds and national parks to explore. Read reviews of sites you’re considering before deciding on a destination.

You’ll also want to consider the weather forecast for your chosen destination and any seasonal hazards or activities that may be present. If you plan to camp in an area with frequent thunderstorms or extreme temperatures, prepare accordingly. Research what type of wildlife is in the area and any necessary permits or regulations you may need to follow.

What to Bring

Once you’ve chosen your destination, it’s time to start packing. Begin by making a list of all the items you need and double-check them once they are all in the car. It’s easy to forget something important when packing for an extended trip, so take your time and don’t rush through it.

Sleep System

A sleep system is an essential part of car camping. Without it, you won’t get a good night’s sleep and could be in for an uncomfortable experience. Depending on where you decide to go, there may not be much space inside your vehicle. Consider bringing along an iKamper roof tent or camping hammock if this is the case.

However, this is the preferred option if your car has enough room to fit a tent and sleeping bag. Your sleep system should include a tent or sleeping hammock large enough for all members of your group, as well as any necessary accessories such as poles and stakes. Choose a sleeping bag rated for the temperatures you expect to encounter during your trip and bring along plenty of extra blankets or a sleeping pad if necessary.

Kitchenware and Food Items

You’ll also need kitchenware and food items for your car camping trip. Bring dishes and utensils such as pots, pans, plates, bowls, and cups. Consider bringing a cooler to keep perishables fresh and a camp stove for cooking hot meals.

When it comes to food, choose items that are easy to prepare and require minimal cleanup. Freeze-dried meals can be an excellent option for car camping as they take up little space and don’t require refrigeration. Granola bars, trail mix, and other snacks are also great when you’re out in the wilderness.


Finally, bringing the right clothing for your car camping trip is important. Layering is key when it comes to dressing for the outdoors. Make sure you have clothes that can keep you warm and dry in any weather conditions. Bring along a hat, gloves, boots, and rain gear as needed. A good pair of hiking shoes are also recommended for any trails or activities you may be participating in.

Remember that extra clothing items such as socks, underwear, and shirts are always a good idea. Pack enough items to cover at least two days of wear and tear, so you don’t have to worry about running out if something becomes wet or dirty.

Activity Gear

It’s nice to have some activities planned for your car camping trip. Consider bringing a few gear pieces, such as fishing poles, frisbees, or golf clubs. If you plan to hike or explore the surrounding area, bring trekking poles, a compass, and a map. Other items such as binoculars, a camera, and field guides are also great to have on hand.

If you plan to spend time in the water, be sure to bring along any necessary items, such as life jackets and floatation devices. Additionally, pack some sunscreen and bug spray so that you can enjoy your time outdoors with minimal irritation.

Stay Entertained

Some entertainment options while out on a car camping trip can help make the time more enjoyable. Consider bringing board games, books, magazines, playing cards, and even a portable speaker for music. Make sure to bring an array of devices, such as phones and tablets, chargers, and backup power sources if possible.

You can also create a scavenger hunt or plan outdoor activities such as nature walks, bird watching, and star gazing. If you’re traveling with kids, bring along some crayons and paper so they can draw and color while taking in the natural beauty of your surroundings. This is an easy way to keep everyone entertained without worrying about having enough games or toys.

Leave No Trace

Finally, remember to practice the “Leave No Trace” principles while car camping. This means disposing of waste and trash properly and packing out anything you bring in. Always stay on marked trails if there are any and take all necessary precautions such as bringing along a first aid kit, finding out about fire restrictions, and being aware of wildlife.

Respect the wildlife and their habitats by not feeding or disturbing them. Additionally, look out for other campers and be mindful of noise levels so that everyone can enjoy the outdoors peacefully. By practicing these principles, you’ll ensure that your car camping trip is enjoyable for all involved without leaving any negative impact on the environment.

Car camping is a great way to enjoy the outdoors and make lasting memories with family and friends. With careful planning, you can ensure that your car camping trip is both fun and safe for everyone involved. By following the above tips you’ll be well-prepared for whatever adventures lie ahead.