camping road trip

11 Tips For The Perfect Camping Road Trip (Plus Essential Items List)

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Are you looking for the right steps to plan the perfect camping road trip? 

A trip like this can be a fun and exciting experience. 

You’ll be free to travel where you want and spend as much time on the road as you like. 

It’s the perfect option for a family journey, a trip with a partner or an adventure with friends. You’ll encounter fresh, wonderful experiences and find awesome places along the way. 

However, it’s important to understand the amount of planning needed before going road trip camping.

This guide will show you how to easily prepare for your camping road trip adventure!

We’ll provide advice on ways to keep things comfortable and some handy DIY solutions, as well as all the car camping tips you need. I’ve also answered the most common questions, so make sure you read on to the end!

You’ll discover the secrets to a fantastic car camping road trip.

Contents

Tips
Essentials
FAQs

CAMPING ROAD TRIP TIPS

Whether you’re car camping or sleeping in your car, a camping road trip needs some planning.  

You need to make sure you have the right kit, that the car is prepared and that you have a plan in place. 

If you don’t do this, your adventure could quickly turn into a disaster. You could end up without the supplies to last the whole journey or you might hate every moment of it. 

These 11 helpful tips will ensure your car camping road trip is plain sailing (or driving).

1. DISCOVER HOW TO SLEEP IN YOUR CAR COMFORTABLY

camping road trip
Sleeping in the car during a camping road tip

If you want to save time with the setup and you have a large enough vehicle, you can sleep in your car. 

The trick is discovering a comfortable sleeping set up.

First, make sure that you have all the blankets and pillows you need ready to be packed. Don’t forget it can get cold in a car at night so it’s important to have the right layers.

Look at your car manual and check how to flatten the seats as much as possible. Make sure that your car is locked on the inside, particularly if you are not sleeping at a campsite.

You should also add hanging lanterns to the inside of the vehicle. Do this and you can avoid the disaster of not being able to start the car after draining the battery.

If you are lucky enough to be considering a larger vehicle then you may benefit from this guide on motorhome wild camping!

TO SLEEP COMFORTABLY IN THE CAR:

  1. Remember comfortable sleeping equipment (pillows, sleeping bag, etc.)
  2. Flatten the back seats as much as possible
  3. Lock the doors from the inside
  4. Crack a window slightly
  5. Hang lanterns so you don’t drain the battery

2. DISCOVER THE KIT YOU NEED FOR A CAMPING ROAD TRIP

Before getting on the road, ensure you have the right kit.

You need to pack all the equipment to ensure that you are comfortable.

Sleeping pads will be a great choice if you’re planning on sleeping in your car. With this kit, you’ll be comfortable even if the seats don’t go down completely. 

There are plenty of options on the market, but the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite Sleeping Pad is our favorite as it’s SO comfortable. It’s also inflatable so when not in use, you’ll save a lot of space!

A good sleeping bag is also essential. 

Mummy style sleeping bags are best for keeping warm. If you’re expecting the temperature to drop or planning a winter camping road trip, this is a must.

Entertainment is another crucial element and there are lots of options these days. If you’re traveling with family, I definitely recommend a TV that plugs into the car.

3. LEARN HOW TO FIND CAMPSITES

You need to choose your campsites before you set out on the road. If you don’t do this, you could end up with nowhere to sleep.

It’s important to find with the right facilities. Check for shower facilities as well as cooking options and electricity. You might even want to consider cellular coverage.

Make sure to consider your budget and check the cost of the campsite before you stay. You need to think about the distance too. You don’t want to spend the majority of time on the road whilst road trip camping.

HOW TO FIND A CAMPSITE

You can search for travel blogs online to find the best campsites in the area you’re traveling to. Think about looking at reviews as well. Not all campsites are equal.

In the US?

This list by Popular Mechanics has all the best campsites to stay at across the country.

Finally, I use IoverlanderIt’s an awesome site/app that will show you campsites (in map format) along your route. One of its main advantages is the reviews from other the large community of other users. There are often photos and descriptions of camping areas.

Use iOverlander to find campsites!

WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A CAMPSITE:

Location | Cost | Showers | Electricity Hookup | Cooking

4. USE STORAGE BINS

A big benefit of road trip camping is you can take anything you want with you. 

The only issue is finding the items you want when you need them. This can be tricky if it’s all piled into the back of your vehicle.

It can lead to a long and complicated setup process when you reach the campsite. You could even lose items as you dig into the back of the car.

To avoid this, I recommend you use storage bins. Storage bins are great because they stack which saves space and they keep things separated. You can store all your cooking equipment in one bin and clothing in another.

You can find bins like this cheaply on Amazon like the Iris Gallon Utility Touch Black Containers.

The best part is that once you’re finished with the bins, you can use them for storage at home too!

road trip camping
Campfire – one of the best things about road trip camping, right?

5. SET UP YOUR OWN SHOWER AREA

You won’t always have access to shower facilities whilst camping on the road. You can check on iOverlander or online as you find your campsite.

However, if you’re aiming to be spontaneous, it’s important to have a backup plan. To do this, you can set up a shower area for yourself.

You just need to conceal the vestibule of your tent with some towels. Then, fill a bowl up with hot water. Make sure you take some shower gel in a squeeze bottle too. This will provide you with a great way to get rid of the dirt and grime.

It will be essential for long camping road trips if you’re not 100% certain there are going to be shower facilities.

You could also check out these tips on doing Laundry On The Road!

6. GET THERE EARLY

The best campsites on camping road trips are often incredibly popular. You will need to make sure that you get there early to avoid disappointment.

If you don’t do this, then you can expect a poor camping ground. The areas left will often include those nearest the water. While this can seem great at first I’ve found it’s where you get the most bugs and bites.

It’s where the animals tend to gather and there’s always the risk of flooding in poor weather conditions.

To avoid this issue, plan the route before you travel. Make sure you know how long it’s going to take to get there and when you’ll arrive. You need to plan for problems with traffic and poor weather that could push you back as well.

car camping road trip
Messing around on the beach during a car camping road trip

7. DON’T FORGET YOUR CAMPING STOVE

If you don’t pack a stove as part of your road trip camping packing list, you’re going to be reliant on restaurants. It’s unlikely there’ll be one close by to everywhere you’re camping.

This can also quickly increase the cost of your camping trip. If you’re looking for a camping stove, our recommendation would be the option from Camping Chef. Compact and lightweight, it’s still large enough to cook up a feast for the whole family.

You need to make sure your camping stove is reliable and that you know how to use it before you travel.

8. TRUST AN INFLATABLE

An inflatable bed is always recommended for a car camping road trip. With an inflatable bed, you will always have a comfortable place to rest.

The big benefit is that you won’t need a lot of space in your car for this. They flatten right down and they are easy to set up too.

You can get beds now with built-in electric pumps that you can power through your car. If you do choose an inflatable bed for your camping trip, there are a few details to consider.

Make sure that you are choosing a bed that is tough and durable. You also need a blowup bed that is waterproof too in case the weather does get inside your tent.

Check the reviews and consider how long the bed takes to set up. The best blow up beds will be fully filled with air in a matter of minutes.

9. LEARN HOW TO QUICKLY SCRAMBLE EGGS

car camping tips
Quick scrambled eggs are a sweet camping road trip hack…

Eggs are a staple of breakfast that most people love. They can be a little tricky to cook when you’re on the go but you don’t want to miss the benefits they provide.

The trick is to make sure that you are preparing the eggs before you travel. To do this, you can break the egg yolks into a water bottle or waterproof container. A container is more ideal because otherwise, this is going to be messy.

Pro Tip: Add milk or seasoning to ensure there’s plenty of flavors packed in. 

Once you’ve done this, shake the bottle well and pack it in your camping supplies.

Now you have a container filled with eggs. You just need to pour the liquid into the pan when you’re ready for breakfast.

QUICK SCRAMBLED EGGS:

  1. Crack eggs into a seal-able container
  2. Add seasoning as required
  3. Shake bottle
  4. Store away
  5. Poor desired amount into pan for scrambling
  6. Enjoy!

10. LEARN HOW TO KEEP WARM WHILST CAR CAMPING

There are plenty of ways that you can keep warm whilst car camping. Knowing how to keep warm will ensure you can avoid abandoning camping in favor of a hotel.

Some people get cold feet at night. To solve this issue, make sure that you fill your water bottle with hot water. You can then throw it to the bottom of your sleeping bag. This will guarantee your feet stay warm until the morning.

If you are thinking of sleeping in your vehicle, check out our article on the best cars to sleep in!

Wet shoes are another one of the reasons why you’ll quickly feel the chill during your trip. You need to dry them out before you go to bed. To do this, make sure that you are stuffing an old shirt in after removing the insoles. By morning, you’ll find they are ready to wear. This is one of my favorite car camping tips!

You need to make sure your clothes stay warm too. You can do this by stuffing them down into your sleeping bag before you go to sleep. Your natural body heat will ensure your clothes are warm for the next morning.

11. COMPLETE THE RIGHT RESEARCH

When taking on a camping road trip, you need to make sure that you are completing the right research. This goes beyond thinking about the campsite or the route you are going to take.

For instance, you should keep a check on the weather forecast. You can do this online and even set your phone to update when the weather changes.

It’s important to ensure that the weather is going to be suitable for camping or that you have the right kit for a particular weather condition.

You might find that your chosen campsite is closed or inaccessible. Check this by contacting the campsite before you travel.

When planning your route, think about the distance you’re going to travel and mileage of your car. Make sure to note any gas stations on route and when you will need to stop.

If this will require a detour, that should be added to the time it’s going to take to get to the campsite. Do this and you’ll avoid arriving after dark. This will ensure setting up a tent isn’t a complete nightmare.

RESEARCH CHECKLIST

Weather| Equipment | Campsites | Route | Stops

ROAD TRIP CAMPING ESSENTIALS

  • Headtorch
  • Airbed
  • Sleeping Bag
  • Battery-Powered Lantern
  • Foldable Camp Chair(s)
  • Chopping Board
  • Pocket Knife
  • Washing-up Bowl, Sponges and Liquid
  • Music Speaker
  • Bug Spray

When road trip camping, it’s paramount that you remember all your essentials.

I’ve listed 10 items above that are absolutely necessary.

We’ve got a wealth of content on this site so feel free to browse and fully prepare for your trip. There are also sections on entertainment and health eating whilst on the road.

CAMPING ROAD TRIP FAQS

Still have some burning questions before you set off on your camping car trip?

Here, I’ve tried to answer the most commonly asked questions.

HOW DO YOU SLEEP IN YOUR CAR WHEN CAMPING?

  1. Take comfortable sleeping equipment (pillow, sleeping bag)
  2. Flatten the back seats as much as possible
  3. Lock the doors from the inside
  4. Crack a window slightly
  5. Hang lanterns so you don’t drain the battery

WHAT DO I NEED FOR A CAMPING ROAD TRIP?

  1. Tent
  2. Sleeping bag
  3. Air mattress
  4. Headtorch
  5. Foldable Camp Chair(s)
  6. Chopping Board
  7. Pocket Knife
  8. Washing-up Stuff
  9. Cooler
  10. Bug Spray

CAN YOU SLEEP IN YOUR CAR AT CAMPGROUNDS?

Yes!

You can sleep in your car at campgrounds.

In fact, it’s much more common than you might think.

Sleeping in your car at a campground might be more comfortable and safer than a tent, providing you have the right vehicle. It’s more insulated AND you’ll be off the ground – guaranteed to keep dry!

Campsites will often take bookings to sleep in the car, too.

WHAT ARE FUN THINGS TO BRING CAMPING?

  1. Music Speaker
  2. Guitar
  3. Gas Fire Pit
  4. Cooler for Beers
  5. Picnic Blanket
  6. S’mores Kit
  7. Pack of Cards
  8. Frisbee
  9. Bat and Ball
  10. Inflatable Paddle-Board

CAMPING ROAD TRIP – YOUR TURN

Which camping road trip tip are you going to use first?

Or do you have any other suggestions?

Either way, leave a comment below and let us know!

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