Ultimate Camping Checklist

A Mom’s Guide to Camping Packing

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Lately, the camping topic has been coming up a lot in my house. I’m not a sleep-under-the-stars-poop-in-the-bushes kinda girl, but the thought of renting a cabin or buying a trailer sounds great!

I want to take our kids on beautiful trips to fish, run through open fields, and just enjoy themselves without all the distractions of everyday life.

We’re getting closer to being able to look at trailers and with recommendations from friends, we’ve been looking at different resorts that rent cabins.

I’m actually getting really excited about it. And after telling a friend of mine about our hopeful plans, she offered up her camping list.

After slowly working the idea of her writing a guest post into our conversations, she accepted.


I’m happy to present this wonderful camping post written by my friend, Melissa Meyer.


Camping can be a lot of fun…or it can be a nightmare.

Nothing like getting out into the middle of nowhere and realizing you forgot some very important items like *gasp* your kids’ toys. Oh, the horror.

Or even minor things like a change of underwear (insert eye roll here).

Why is it that I am usually great at remembering everyone’s clothes but mine? I envy my husband who only has to pack for himself. Me? I have to pack for me, my 2 boys, the dog if we take her and all the food.  That’s a lot of pressure because who’s fault is it when my 7-year-old’s favorite toy is left behind, or when we are starving for one night because I forgot to buy enough food for the growth spurt I didn’t even know was happening? Mine of course, because I’m mom and that’s mom life.

Ever showered and realized you had no towels? Try it, it’s super fun.

Packing for a camping trip was easier when our trailer was parked at our house because we could load things during the week. I had plenty of time to remember things and just quickly grab it and throw it in. Now that our trailer is being stored, I don’t have that luxury.

Now, I have to make sure I have everything we need before we leave the house because nothing can ruin a trip faster than the stress of knowing you forgot something.

This is why I like to have a laminated check list of all the essentials I need for the trailer/motorhome so I can check them off before each trip and then erase and it’s ready to use again. Even though there are things that we store in the trailer at all times, like toilet paper, paper towels, paper plates, etc., I like to put those items on the list just so that I make sure to check my inventory so we don’t run out (I usually check these at the end of the previous trip since I don’t have easy access to check before our trip).

Remember to check the weather of the place you are camping, both day and night temperatures, as they can change drastically. Usually the daytime is super hot and the night is freezing cold.

I remembered to do this on our most recent 4 day trip to Mammoth.

It was going to be around 80 degrees during the day and drop down to the 40’s during the night. Because of this I packed lots of warm pajamas but I packed only 2 pairs of jeans to use for campfires or for bike rides (to avoid scraped knees when they fell).

The rest were shorts. And I packed a lot of them to account for how often my kids need new clothes during the day. Sounds like I had it all covered, right?

Uh, wrong. What I did not account for was the mosquitos.

HOLY MOLY. The mosquitos! Apparently, they were out in droves due to the wet winter we had. I’m not talking a couple bites here and there…I’m talking crazy amounts and they bit me right through my Lularoe leggings. I swear I had more bites on my legs than I did on my arms and I was wearing tank tops the whole time (and yes, we used bug spray. It did not matter to those bugs!). I hate mosquitos but man do they loooovvvvveeee me.

On day 2 we decided to go to a super-secret fishing spot that my brother-in-law swears by. I kid you not, the place is called Mosquito Landing. I should have turned around and ran right then and there but the prospect of catching fish was too great. And wouldn’t you know, Mosquito Landing lived up to its name…there were hundreds of these little bastards.

Sorry I got off on a tangent…SQUIRREL!!!

So, back to the 2 pairs of jeans; I definitely needed to make the 2 pairs of jeans I packed my kids last the whole 4 days. And that brings us to this picture…

See, 3-year-olds want to do whatever anyone else is doing no matter how fun, boring or stupid that may be. This is probably why I have so much gray hair.

Well at good ol’ Mosquito Landing, there was a super shallow section that ran from the beach out about 15 feet (I’m guessing and I am terrible at guessing distances) which made it extremely difficult to cast our lines into deep enough water to catch anything. So, we did what any desperate-to-catch-fish-person would do, we rolled up our pants as high as they’d go and we waded into the 300 below 0 degree water.

Of course, monkey see monkey do, our 3-year-old needed to be in the water too, even though his pole has a permanently attached plastic fish.

Now since he was wearing one of the 2 jeans I packed, I needed to make a very important decision. Do I, A: refuse to let him in the water saving me the stress of making sure he doesn’t fall in (he has tubes in his ears so this is very important that he not get dirty lake water in his ears) but endure the incessant whining that I know is sure to accompany that decision followed by him getting into anything and everything he shouldn’t be (and for some odd reason I just didn’t feel like fishing out a hook or weight out of my sons nose or any other body part) or B: let him go in the water and have happy boy?

As you can see, I went with option B. But, seeing as how I couldn’t ruin a pair of pants, nor could I control how much this little boy would splash, I made the smart decision to forgo the pants all together and let him fish in his underwear (I had plenty of underwear in the trailer and yes he needed a new, dry pair by the time we were done).

Moral of the story, pack more pants. Ha!


Here is our camping check list. Tailor this list to fit your family’s needs.


  • Propane (very important to check the level before we leave as it runs our stove, oven and fridge, and our BBQ uses propane)
  • Paper plates (not as big a deal as we do keep regular plates and silverware but washing dishes during camping sucks)
  • Plastic silverware
  • Paper towels
  • Toilet paper
  • Hand/drying towels
  • Bath towels
  • Pillows
  • Clean sheets (or sleeping bags if you use those)
  • Blankets
  • Windex for cleaning
  • Norwex cleaning cloths (amazing alternative so you don’t have to bring cleaning liquids or solutions.)
  • Broom/Vacuum (more food ends up on the floor than in my kids mouth and sweeping carpet is not easy) I love the Electrolux Ergorapido Lithium Ion cordless vacuum which I have found for about $50 at discount stores
  • Cortisone cream for those pesky mosquito bites
  • Bug spray
  • Entry mat (to keep the dirt off the floor as much as possible)
  • Fishing poles
  • Lures
  • Bait
  • Hooks
  • Bikes
  • Helmets
  • Tire pump (Never fill your bike tires up before you leave especially if you are going to a higher altitude as the pressure may pop your tire tubes…I only know this because it happened to my brother-in-law on our last trip.)
  • Lantern
  • Flashlights
  • Glow sticks (because they are always fun while camping)
  • Hydroflasks (because they keep your drinks ice cold while you are out fishing all day)
  • Toys
  • Dvds
  • Phone/ipad chargers
  • Water or any other drinks you may want
  • Stuff for smores
  • Marshmallow sticks
  • Games
  • BBQ
  • Hand/dish soap
  • Spices for your meals (this is the one I forget the most)
  • Condiments
  • Food
  • Body wash
  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Razor
  • Toothbrushes
  • Toothpaste
  • Hats
  • Extra shoes
  • Diapers (if your kids are still in them)
  • Baby wipes (This is not just for kids, these are little miracle cloths that can be used to clean messy hands and faces, stains on the carpet or anything else. They are especially good for fishing so you can clean your hands after handling the bait. I never leave home without baby wipes. Trust me, you’ll thank me later.)
  • Chairs for around the fire
  • Tool kit (you never know)
  • Dog bowls
  • Dog food
  • Leash
  • First Aid kit

Happy Camping,



Guys, I cannot wait to go “camping” and see what fun things my kids get into. I’ll definitely be overpacking the clothes, though. Knowing my boy, he’ll go through clothes in no time flat.

Who has a fun camping story?