I love to camp. I enjoy staying in a cottage and RVing too, but when I say camping, I mean pitching a tent and rolling out the sleeping bags. There’s nothing quite like waking up at the crack of dawn and breathing in fresh air while listening to the birds. I like to sneak out of my tent early and watch the bunnies and the chipmunks that are roaming freely. I love frying eggs and bacon over a camp stove and watching the kids run around outside with no electronics to distract them. The smell of an evening campfire and marshmallows roasting is a perfect way to end each day too.

What I don’t love is packing up the van to head out on a camping trip. It’s always chaos and I always forget something. In order to reduce the number of forgotten items on our trips, I have compiled a list of things that I consider to be important.


The Comforts of Your Camp Home

  • Tent(s): make sure all of the tent poles, pegs and the fly are all in the bag before packing it
  • Waterproof spray: put up the tent and give it a good spray as an extra precaution
  • Tarps: even if the tent is waterproof, you may need a tarp or two if it rains hard enough
  • Rubber mallet: this is the perfect tool for putting tent pegs into the ground
  • Screen house: it’s not only a way to enjoy a bug-free meal, but it’s also a great place to store your chairs and coolers at night
  • Camp chairs: I like the canvas ones with a cup holder, and kid size ones are perfect for younger children
  • Air mattresses and an air pump: I use little single mattresses for the kids. They are smaller than a twin but work great for kids. Two twins or one Queen works great for Mom and Dad.
  • Bedding: sleeping bags, pillows, sheets and extra blankets. I lay the sheets and blankets out inside the sleeping bags and foll them up with everything inside.

The Camp Kitchen

  • Fire wood, newspapers and matches
  • Fire starter sticks, just in case you need some help
  • Marshmallow roasting sticks (can be sticks, hangers or actual rods made for this…I like the purchased ones personally)
  • Tin foil
  • Camp stove and propane
  • One or two frying pans
  • One pot
  • Spatula and other cooking utensils
  • Paper Towels
  • Plates, bowls, cups and cutlery
  • Plastic bin for washing dishes
  • Dish soap
  • Dish cloths and dish towels
  • Garbage bags
  • Plastic table cloth and clips to attach to picnic table
  • Cooler(s)

Food (these are the basics that I always bring, it may differ for you)

  • Case(s) of water
  • Instant coffee
  • Sweetener
  • Cereal (the cases of small cereal bowls are great for camping)
  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Bacon
  • Salt and pepper
  • Bread
  • Butter
  • Peanut butter
  • Hot dogs, hamburgers and buns
  • Ketchup, mustard, any other condiments you prefer
  • Potatoes
  • Corn on the cob
  • Carrots
  • Marshmallows
  • Chocolate bars
  • Graham crackers


  • Toothbrushes and toothpaste
  • Shampoo, conditioner and body wash
  • Washcloth in a large ziploc and Bath towel for each person
  • Hairbrush
  • Deodorant
  • Razor
  • Hairdryer (also good for blowing up air mattresses)

Must-have Clothing for Summer Camping

  • Running shoes or hiking boots
  • Flip flops
  • Extra socks
  • Undergarments
  • Both warm and cool pajamas
  • Summer clothing
  • Jeans
  • Hoodie or jacket
  • Swimsuit


  • Beach towels
  • Beach toys
  • Fishing poles and supplies
  • Games for the campsite (eg. bocce ball, ladder ball, lawn darts, frisbee golf)
  • Deck of cards
  • Books for lazy or rainy days

Other Necessities

  • Flashlights and extra batteries
  • Bug spray
  • Sunscreen
  • Sun hats
  • Sunglasses
  • Clothes line and clothes pins
  • Medications
  • Citronella candles
  • Baby wipes (great for quick clean up)
  • Umbrellas or rain coats
  • Car chargers for cell phones
  • First Aid Kit

Are there any camping “must have” items that I’ve missed?