Tips for a stress-free weekend of camping

A little bit of planning will ensure your weekend away is relaxing and uncomplicated.

If you’re new to camping, the idea of packing, carting and unpacking all that gear might seem a bit daunting. But a camping holiday or short break is supposed to be relaxing and, with a bit of planning, you can ensure it is stress-free. Here are some tips for you next time you head off into the great outdoors.

Stay close to home

If you’re only going away for a long weekend, you don’t want to spend more time in your car than necessary. Stay in a camping ground close to home — at least within about three to four hours’ drive. Staying close to home gives you a bit more flexibility with departure and arrival times. It also means you spend more time camping and less time travelling.

Pack lightly

You don’t need every camping item and just-in-case gear for a short break. Pack lightly and think ahead. Maybe cook some meals before you leave, so you’re not carrying boxes of ingredients.

Don’t pack equipment for every possible activity, such as fishing, kayaking, surfing and the like. Plan your activity time and pack to fill it. There’s no sense loading up your vehicle with water sports equipment if you’re not going to have time to use it. Plan to go hiking, swimming or just exploring, as these activities require very little equipment.

Prepare early

Don’t pack as you’re leaving. Get all your camping gear, clothes and equipment together a few days beforehand. Make a list and check off all items, then place them together for packing purposes. This will save you time and frustration when it’s time to pack the car and head off.

Check the weather

It seems obvious, but by checking the weather forecast you can at least plan for changes to occur while you’re away. You can pack wet weather gear if necessary, or book activities such as ten pin bowling or movie tickets for the kids, so you don’t end up all damp and cooped up in your tent during a storm.

Plan the return trip

Try to pack in daylight, or before nightfall really sets in. Have a meal ready in the fridge or freezer, so you’re not wasting time trying to get dinner ready or heading back out to the shops. Stop for dinner on the way home, so you only have to unpack when you return. If your kids are going back to school the next day, make sure you have food for their lunches, so you’re not having to run out early in the morning to organise food for them.

This all requires some forward planning, but you’ll find a little bit of forethought will make your trip so much more enjoyable. What do you do to prepare for a camping trip?