Camping. It’s one of America’s favorite pastimes. Heck, even Oprah Winfrey is down to camp. She took Gayle and her show to Yosemite National Park for an overnight stay. Camping gives us the opportunity to get out of the city for awhile and away from work to connect with nature and our families. Now we’re not talking glamping here, with RVs, power hookups and flush toilets. This is bare bones, sleep on the ground camping. Think you’ve got what it takes? Run through this checklist before you load up your family for your next big camping adventure.

Get the Car In Check

What’s worse than breaking down in the middle of nowhere with an entire car full of kids? Don’t let this happen to you. Before you pack up the car with all your stuff, take your car to an auto professional for a once over, just to make sure that everything’s good. Taking the time to drive your car into the shop can save you time, money and headaches. If the mechanic reports back with anything needing a little fixing, take care of it ASAP. Tires, for example, should be replaced every 40,000 miles, according to If you’re past 40,000 or close to it, invest in a new set. sells Michelin brand tires that can be delivered directly to your local mechanic or auto body repair shop. These tires can fit any ride, from a car to a minivan. And, with new tires, your road trip to the campground will be much smoother.

Pack It All Up

Parents don’t have to do all the hard work when it comes to packing up for a camping trip. Grant your kids the responsibility for packing up their own gear. But, before it’s loaded into the car, check it out to make sure they’ve got the right stuff. If your son tries to sneak in his iPad and your daughter is bringing three outfits for each day, send ‘em packing back to their rooms to re-pack their bags. Their backpacks should include a pair of tennis shoes, socks, sandals, a swimsuit, a long-sleeve and short-sleeve top, shorts, long pants and something to sleep in. Hats and sunglasses are musts, too, as well as sunblock. Real Simple offers a camping checklist for reference.

First-Aid Comes First

It’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt. Bug bites, minor burns from the campfire and scrapes are all very real injuries when it comes to camping. Since you’ll be in the middle of the wilderness without access to a pharmacy or one-stop shopping center, make a first-aid kit to bring along on your camping trip. Check out this REI guide about how to choose a first-aid kit. Include bandages for scrapes and minor cuts, Aloe Vera for burns and bug repellent to keep mosquitoes and other biting insects away. Other items like tweezers, allergy medicine, pain reliever and medical tape are all good to have too.


No matter how many times you run through your checklist before you leave, you always seem to forget something. Even the most prepared parent forgets a thing or two. Tent stakes are easy to leave behind, so keep an extra set in your car. Bring a small fire starter kit, in case you leave yours behind and always bring extra water. This is really important if you’re camping in the summertime.