- sleeping bags
- air mattress or pads for adults. Kids don't seem to mind the hardness.
- 1 pillow each, except for toddlers
- special blankie for toddlers, doubles as pillow (This is specifically for my toddlers. Yours might be different.)
- 1 warm weather outfit per person per day
- extra outfits for toddlers and babies
- long sleeve shirt or sweater for cool mornings
- jeans, if going hiking
- pajamas. Long cotton pants and a T-shirt is good for warm weather
- sneakers or sturdy sandals. Everyone should be wearing their shoes. You don't need two pairs.
- rain ponchos, if you feel like being extra prepared
- underthings (you know what you need)
- Swim suits if near water
- Books for the kids and you.
- Quiet activity, like crayons and coloring books or jacks
- active activity, like a frisbee and jump rope.
- quilt or ground cloth for little ones to sit on
- folding chairs
- firewood, or come prepared to buy wood at exorbitant prices
- kindling and scrap paper
- wash cloths
- personal toiletries. Facial soap, deodorant, etc.
- toothbrushes and toothpaste
- wet wipes, or extra ones if your bringing them anyways for diaper changes. These are great for quick sticky mess clean up.
- clothes line you can string from a couple of trees. Really great if you're near water
- dish washing soap
- washing tub. I use a plastic tote that I can pack stuff in when not in use.
- dish towel
- camp stove
- paper towels
- dishes. I have metal ones for camping, but if you don't have something that packs well, bring disposable plates, cups, and forks
- pots and pans necessary for anything you are planning to cook
- Cooking spoon, if you don't bring metal ones
- matches and lighter
- cutting board, if you are going to be cutting up stuff at the campsite.
- table cloth
- percolating coffee pot (This is a must for me!)
- Insect repellent
- first aid kit that includes:
- band-aids and gauze bandages
- eye saline
- tylenol, both adult and children's
- antibacterial ointment
- burn ointment
- any meds you might have (Actually, this should be put in with your toiletries)
This isn't a list, so much as suggestions and tips.
Breakfast can be elaborate or simple, depending on how much you like campside cooking. I personally don't like getting up at the crack of dawn to fry bacon, so I bring ready made food. Things like boiled eggs, hearty muffins, and granola with milk, make filling breakfasts that you don't have to cook.
For lunch I like sandwiches. They're easy and healthy and you can change up the fillings. My kids favorite is peanut butter and honey, which is great because nothing has to be kept cool. Dave likes meat, cheese, and vegetable sandwiches, so for these I have everything pre-sliced and in separate containers. Cucumbers are more compact and less messy than lettuce or tomatoes.
Supper: If you pre make a soup or stew, put it in a freezer bag and freeze it. It packs well like this, and also helps keep the other food in the cooler cold. Just remember to bring a pot to reheat it in. For hamburgers, pre-form the patties and freeze, separating each one with a square of wax paper, then putting them in a freezer bag.
Ice for the cooler should be put in sealable plastic bags before you put it in the cooler. If just dumped in the cooler, water from the melting ice will creep into everything and make it yuck! Ask me how I know.
Pack a desert you don't have to keep cool, like spice cake or brownies. (Or smores!) If you want whipped cream with desert, put whipped cream in a mason jar in the cooler, and then when your ready to eat it, let your kids shake it till it turns to whipped cream.
If your kids guzzle milk, look for milk that doesn't have to be refrigerated. I bought a big pack of Horizon Organic vanilla flavored milk for this camping trip. Don't forget coffee cream. This note is for me;) . If you like sugar in your in coffee, (I don't) get a sweetened cream, so you don't have to pack sugar as well.
Snacks are a must for camping, as there isn't much else to do but eat. However if I eat a whole bunch of junk food it takes me weeks to recover from camping, so I try to get healthy snacks like fruit and nuts.
A bottle of wine for you and your spouse is awfully nice after the children are in bed. Time to relax and talk is my favorite thing about camping.