Car Camping Essentials | A Nomad’s Dream

Knowing how to go camping in car is key
Knowing how to go camping in car is key

Are you craving a camping adventure but don’t want to deal with the hassle of setting up a tent? Car camping might be the perfect solution for you IF you know the car camping essentials.

With the freedom to travel wherever the road takes you and the convenience of your vehicle at hand, car camping offers a unique and enjoyable outdoor experience.

We’ll walk you through everything you need to know to make your car camping trip a memorable one.

Choosing the Right Spot and Permits

Before you embark on your car camping journey, selecting the right spot and ensuring that you have all the necessary permits is crucial.

Here’s two quick tips you should keep in mind:

Park Out of the Way

When parking for the night, choose a safe and secluded location away from main roads and highly populated areas. Always be respectful of private property and any posted regulations.

Normally, some campsites offer a parking lot exclusively for car campers, where you can meet other people. Downside? You won’t be alone, so don’t choose these if that’s what you want.

Know What Permits You Need

Always remember to research the specific area you plan to camp in and find out if any permits or passes are required. Complying with any regulations will ensure a trouble-free trip; not complying will ruin your trip.

It’s definitely not worth it risking not complying with local regulations and thinking you’ll get away with it – you’ll just feel stressed during the whole trip and won’t be able to relax.

Setting Up Your Campsite

Never underestimate the impact of the location where you'll set up your car camping tent
Never underestimate the impact of the location where you’ll set up your car camping tent

Once you’ve found a good parking spot, you need to set up your tent within the confines of your car (normally on top).

When doing so, you should think of the following:

Maximize Space

This should be a priority. You should be efficient when organizing your camping gear within your vehicle to maximize space, since when you go car camping you don’t have the luxury of bringing a huge tent. Sure, it can be heavy and made of durable materials, but it won’t have three different rooms.

To help you on this, consider using storage containers or car organizers – these are great to keep things tidy.

Comfortable Seating

Don’t forget to bring along foldable chairs or comfortable cushions for lounging around your spot. Having a comfortable place to sit can make a huge difference during your downtime.

With comfortable seating you can rest, read or even watch birds – few things are as enjoyable as these!

Sleeping Arrangements

We have never met anyone who enjoys going camping and doesn’t prioritize getting a good night’s sleep. And there’s no reason you should be different – sleeping well is essential for your car camping experience.

Here’s how to to do it:

Sleep with Your Head Toward the Front

When preparing your sleeping area, you should position yourself with your head towards the front of the car. This not only provides more space but also allows for better airflow.

Invest in a Comfortable Bed

A comfortable sleeping mattress is priceless in a car camping trip

Don’t be cheap. Consider investing in a high-quality car camping mattress or sleeping pad. Your comfort is crucial and trust us: a good mattress will make all the difference.

Ten Essentials You Cannot Ignore

Just like any camping trip, going car camping requires you to be prepared for unexpected situations.

Make sure you have the following ten essentials and are not caught by surprise:

  1. Navigation tools

  2. Sun protection equipment (sunscreen, sunglasses, hat)

  3. Insulation (extra clothing)

  4. Illumination (headlamp or flashlight with extra batteries)

  5. First-aid supplies

  6. Firestarter and matches

  7. Repair tools (multi-tool, duct tape)

  8. Nutrition (extra food)

  9. Hydration (extra water)

  10. Emergency shelter

Having these essentials on hand can make a significant difference in case of emergencies or unexpected situations during your trip.

It doesn’t cost much money or time to bring them, and you’ll find them priceless if you need them.

Keep Your Electronics Charged

Always take a portable charger with you!
Always take a portable charger with you!

In today’s world, staying connected and having access to electronics is often a necessity. You may want to share your experience with your social network, stay in touch with your children (if car camping with your partner) or may even need to use the phone to call for help.

Always ensure you have a reliable power source, such as a portable charger, to keep your devices charged.

Keep Food in the Car, Ideally in a Cooler

While car camping allows you to enjoy the convenience of your vehicle, it’s crucial to store your food properly.

Keep perishables in a cooler to prevent spoilage, and store non-perishable items in a designated food container or storage box. This not only keeps your food fresh but also helps you stay organized.

Have Your Own Drive-In Movie

One of the perks of car camping is the ability to enjoy your own outdoor movie night
One of the perks of car camping is the ability to enjoy an outdoor movie night

Bring along a portable projector and screen, and you can have your very own drive-in movie experience under the stars. Bring your partner and you have a great romantic plan post-dinner.

Just don’t forget your favorite movies and snacks!

Bring a Headlamp or Hang Lanterns

Proper lighting is essential when camping, even in your car. A headlamp or hanging lanterns can provide ample illumination for cooking, reading, or simply finding your way around the campsite at night. Plus, they free up your hands for other tasks.

Stay Squeaky Clean

Maintaining personal hygiene is crucial, even when camping in your car. Pack a portable camping shower or use a nearby water source (if allowed) to freshen up. Don’t forget essentials like biodegradable soap, a towel, and a washcloth.

Open a Window Enough to Ventilate

Ventilation is key to a comfortable and safe car camping experience. Crack open a window or two to allow for proper airflow, which can help reduce condensation inside the car and keep the interior fresh.

If you’re camping in a tent set up on top of your car and don’t have any windows, you can leave the zipper slightly open.

Build Your Shower

For extended car camping trips, consider setting up a DIY shower system
For extended car camping trips, consider setting up a DIY shower system

All you need is a water container, a hose, and a showerhead attachment. Hang the container from a tree or your car’s roof rack, and you’ll have a refreshing outdoor shower experience.

Final Words

Car camping offers the freedom and comfort of exploring the outdoors without having to invest a lot of money into a fancy tent. With the right preparations, you can plan memorable road trips for your family or friends. Pack your bags, hit the road, and make the most of your car camping adventure NOW!

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are Some Essential Items to Include in a Car Camping Essentials List?

A comprehensive car camping essentials list should include a tent (for those who prefer a tent alongside their car, normally placed on top of it), a comfortable sleeping bag, camp chairs, a cooler, cooking utensils, a portable stove, headlamps or lanterns, navigation tools, first-aid supplies, and a reliable power source for electronics.

What Are Some Land Management Guidelines to Follow When Car Camping?

When car camping, always respect land management rules and regulations. Research the specific area you plan to visit and comply with parking, camping, and permit requirements. But don’t forget to abide by generally known camping principles such as the “leave no trace”, and the “pack it in, pack it out. Although these sometimes are not strictly expressed by the campsites, you should respect them.

What Are Some Tips to Save Money on a Car Camping Trip?

To save money while car camping consider options like camping in national forests or Bureau of Land Management areas, which often offer lower fees than traditional campgrounds. Additionally, cook your meals, plan budget-friendly activities, and share expenses with fellow car campers.

Are There Any Special Considerations for Car Camping in National Parks?

When car camping in national parks, be aware of park-specific regulations and camping restrictions. Some parks require you make reservations in advance, while others operate on a first-come, first-served basis. Research each park’s guidelines before your visit them.