Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Our Camping and Road Trip Essentials and To-Do List


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The end of summer is quickly approaching and we still have one seasonal bucket list item to cross off: camping! Our last camping trip was about this time last year at Nordhouse Dunes in Michigan, and it was one of my favorites we have ever done. It was also the last camping trip we had with our dog Taylor, so it'll always have a special place in our hearts.



For our next camping trip we'd like to try a different park because the memories and emotions might be too fresh, so this weekend we are heading to different park. The next camping trip will also be special because it'll be a first with our toddler Victoria. (It's been so fun to celebrate all of our firsts as a family!) Of course, we are a little nervous about camping with a toddler, but we have to get over that quickly because we love the outdoors and we intend to keep doing it as she grows up. Besides this trip, we also have to get ready for our upcoming road trip to Canada.

To save time, it's a must for us to be prepared for our road trips and camping getaways. With that goal, I made a checklist that allows us to be both spur-of-the-moment campers as well as prepared travelers.

My camping prep list has to-do tasks, items to buy, as well as a camping trip meal plan section. I find that writing down what we will be eating for each meal helps cut back on shopping and packing time. I share the printable camping prep list below to help you do the same! (This list focuses on those items that often break or need to be replenished vs. essentials like your tent and sleeping bags. It assumes you have already checked that they are good to go.)

Our camping/road trip prep lists:
  • Choose a destination/find a campsite.
  • Make a list of camping or road trip supplies we need to replace or replenish.
  • Get an oil change.
  • Pack our bags. (Bring along our pet supplies or find a pet sitter/boarding if it's not a dog-friendly place).
  • Download movies on the tablet for Victoria.
  • Water the plants.
  • Take out the trash.
  • Charge our cameras and phones.


One way we cut back on prep time is using our storage space in our Jeep to keep some camping gear ready to go, including our air mattress, snorkeling gear, floats and camping chairs. We always have these with us, which comes in handy for day camping at places like Indiana Dunes State Park. (The air mattress is helpful when we are taking a road trip to visit family that doesn't have an extra bed for us.)


Before we can hit the road, we often need to shop for some of the camping supplies listed above. In addition, we must make sure our car can get us to our destination safely. We can accomplish both of those important tasks by heading to our local Walmart's Automotive Care Center.




We ask for the Pennzoil Platinum®: Full Synthetic Motor Oil with PurePlus™ Technology for our Jeep, which helps clean out the sludge that lesser oils leave behind. Cars with more than 75,000 miles would benefit from the Pennzoil® High Mileage Vehicle® motor oil instead to keep their engines running cleanly and strongly. (It just so happens to be on Rollback right now for $35.88 vs. $39.88, too. Find your local Automotive Care Center on Walmart's Rollback page.)




After dropping off our vehicle, we can then head into the store for our camping essentials, which are conveniently located right next to the Automotive Care Center.



We check out some camping gear to replace our broken or empty items, including headlamps, propane batteries, insect spray, a first-aid kit, sunglasses and sunscreen. If you're going to a body of water, water shoes may be handy as well.



Next was the grocery section for necessities that I need for the camping meal plan I created. This includes cooking spray, burger buns and black-bean burger patties, our favorite soups, and a frozen potato skillet meal to mix with eggs. We make sure we have all the condiments we need as well. We already have coolers, but if you need one you can find one in the camping/fishing section.

For snacks, watermelon, bananas and grapes are musts for our toddler, and Graham and I also like munching on trail mix and oatmeal bars. We often indulge with cookies and chips and salsa as well ― let's be real.

Getting this shopping done in advance will make taking off so much faster this weekend and will help us beat the Chicago traffic out of the city. We typically need to wake up around 5 a.m. in order for that to happen, making it that much more important to get our oil change or shopping completed ahead of time. That gives us more time outdoors in our favorite places near Chicago, including Indiana Dunes State Park.

A visit to Indiana Dunes last year.
A visit to Lake Michigan Recreation Area last summer.

I've provided a camping essential list below for ideas on what you might need for your next trip! Be sure to check that your tent (including poles and stakes), canopy, air mattress and/or sleeping bags are in good shape and don't need to be replaced. My list concentrates on items that often need to be replaced or run out, in our experience. Also, you can add ease and convenience to your own road trips by visiting the Walmart Automotive Care Center near you.


Do you have any upcoming road trips or camping trips? Tell me about them below!


Grab your camping prep list!



Click here to download a PDF.





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