Camping season is upon us. It’s the time of year to take in the wonder of nature by day and sleep out under a blanket of stars come nightfall. But before you load up the car, truck or SUV and hit the road for your wilderness adventure, follow these camping tips to help take the rough out of roughing it.
Make a Plan
A little planning now can make for a more restful, stress-free vacation. Make arrangements to keep your work life and home life on track when you’re away.
- Set your email out of office message with contact info of a point person who will manage things while you’re out.
- Take time to set up recurring automatic payments for your vehicle, insurance, mortgage or other monthly bills.
- Convert to paperless billing to prevent mail from piling up in your mailbox.
Prep Your Vehicle
Make sure your vehicle inspection is up-to-date and that you have a current copy of your insurance information. You’ll also want to check your blinkers, brake lights, headlights and wiper blades to confirm that they’re off-road ready. Finally, test your tire tread and pressure – and don’t forget about the spare!
Savvy campers know it’s not about packing everything; it’s about packing the right things. In addition to food, camping gear and weather-appropriate clothing, here are some essentials you won’t want to forget:
- AN EMERGENCY KIT
In addition to some basic first-aid supplies, you’ll want to include items such as a flashlight, compass and weather radio on hand.
- ROPE AND BUNGEE CORDS
Your gear can shift in transit or get blown around at your campsite, so these come in handy for tethering and tying.
- PLASTIC BAGS
Grocery bags are easy to store and highly reusable for collecting trash, keeping items dry in the rain or functioning as makeshift gloves.
- PAPER NAPKINS
The extra napkins you snagged from the drive-through can be used for everything from blowing your nose and cleaning your glasses to wiping up spills and scrubbing cookware.
- STORAGE BINS
Keeping everything organized helps ensure that once you’ve taken your gear out of the car you’ll be able to fit it all back in when you head home.
- LICENSES AND PERMITS
If you’re going to be fishing or hunting during your travels, find out beforehand if you’ll need a license to do so, and don’t forget to bring it along if it is required. Do the same for park permits, reservations or passes.
Invest in Add-Ons
Consider investing in add-on equipment that makes packing for your camping excursions a breeze. If you are leasing your vehicle, please check your lease agreement or ask your dealer whether such modifications are permitted.
Here are six popular add-on options:
- A lockable rear cargo box for stashing valuable tools and other items.
- A roof rack for strapping on your kayak or cross-country skis.
- A cargo carrier for storing all the gear that won’t fit in the trunk.
- A truck bed or tonneau cover to protect items from the elements.
- A bike rack in case you want to tackle the trail on two wheels.
- A truck tent for turning your truck into a rolling campground.
If one of the things you’ll be hauling on your camping trip is a boat, camper or trailer, you’ll need to brush up on the basics of towing. It’s not as easy as it looks, and even slight adjustments, like redistributing your load from one side to the other, can affect safety and stability. Here are some towing guidelines:
- Choose a trailer hitch that’s heavy duty enough to match your vehicle’s gross trailer weight. If you need assistance, your dealership may be able to help calculate what’s appropriate.
- Practice backing up. (If you want the trailer to go left, you must turn the steering wheel to the right.) It wouldn’t hurt to practice in a parking lot before you hit the road for real.
- Inspect the trailer every time you stop. Road vibration can cause things to shift, so double-check that the hitch and wiring are still secure. And make sure the tires are still properly inflated and don’t get too hot.
If you’re leasing the vehicle that will be doing the towing, check your lease agreement to see if adding a trailer hitch is prohibited or not.
Now all that’s left is picking your dates and destination. Find more ways to plan the trip of a lifetime by determining your Road Trip Personality.
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