Essentials for the Best Car Camping Trip Ever

Essentials for car camping

Car camping is a fun and affordable way to travel. You can camp in comfort, while still having money to spend on cool experiences. In addition to campgrounds, national parks, and other beautiful nature destinations, you also have the option to camp in cities and other harder to reach places. It’s convenient for short-term camping trips or even extended road trips!

The best part about packing for a car camping trip is that you can bring extra essentials to make the trip awesome.

Sleeping Essentials

sleeping essentials for car camping

If you’re planning to sleep in your car (vs packing a tent), you may need to make a few preparations. Depending on the car you have, you might be able to fold the seats down to make a bed. Otherwise, you can take the back seats out and convert your car for car camping. My sleeping essentials include:

  • A pad to put your sleeping bag on
  • A comfortable and warm sleeping bag (pick one that suits your travel temperatures)
  • Window shades (for privacy and safety)
  • An eye mask (in case there are any extra lights around)
  • Pillows (one to sleep on and another to prop yourself up while hanging out in the car)
  • Wool socks (for keeping warm!)

Power Essentials

Since I work from the road while car camping, I carry many essential power devices. Even if you won’t be working, it’s nice to have several ways to charge your devices for watching movies, finding directions, taking pictures, and more. Here are my favorite power essentials for car camping:

  • Portable battery (one that can charge any devices, including a laptop)
  • Adapters for car charging (I have one that can charge my laptop and one with multiple USB ports for charging devices while driving)
  • Small portable battery pack (for phone and small device charging)
  • Rechargeable batteries
  • An extension cord (for plugging into power outlets)
  • A power cord adapter (for plugging into power at campground spots)

Food Essentials

food car camping essentials

Cooking while car camping is not always an easy task, especially if you are camping in a city. If you are in a campground, you can easily pull out a small stovetop and cook up some dinner, like any other camping trip. It will just take planning to store, cook, and clean up meals. Car camping can lead to lots of snacking, so it’s important to seek out a balanced diet and plenty of veggies. In addition to your favorite camping meals and ingredients, here are some suggested food essentials for car camping:

  • A cooler and some waterproof food containers (you’ll be buying a lot of ice)
  • Cooking supplies and utensils (a camp stove is very helpful)
  • Snack bars, protein bars, protein shakes, and jerky (for hiking or a quick meal in a pinch)
  • Several gallons of water
  • Coffee maker and supplies

Sanitary Essentials

When camping at campgrounds or RV parks, you’ll usually have access to showers, bathrooms, and laundry. If you are camping anywhere else (boondocking, parking lots, rest stops, etc), you won’t have all of these amenities. I try to stay at a campground at least a few times a week to make use of showers and laundry. Here are some essentials for keeping clean while car camping:

Fun Essentials

Fun car camping essentials

Now, we get to the fun essentials! These are the items that make your car camping trip fun and relaxing. Don’t forget to spend time outside, unplugged and enjoying nature. Also, bring some hobbies along with you on your adventure. On my car camping trips, I bring several books to read and supplies for coloring. Bring whatever sounds relaxing for you. Here are my favorite fun car camping essentials:

  • Camp chair
  • Hammock or blow up lounger (for napping, of course)
  • Solar lights
  • Music, podcasts, audiobooks, and more for driving!
  • Speaker for playing music
  • Books and other reading material

Other Travel Essentials

Here are a few extra safety, navigation, and first aid related car camping essentials for your trip:

  • Maps of all areas you will be traveling to
  • Offline maps downloaded on Google Maps App
  • Headlamp
  • Safety items such as pepper spray or panic alarm
  • Bug spray
  • First aid kit

I hope this list of essentials for the best car camping trip ever will lead you to many car camping adventures. If you want to learn more about car camping, check out these articles:

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