By Jean-Luc Théberge, author of the Guide du petit campeur québécois
Being able to find things when on a camping trip can avoid tensions and make the whole experience more pleasant. Leave those useless articles at home! Everyone should make their own travel bag with their clothes and personal items, from iPods to cameras, etc. One parent – often mom, let’s admit it – should prepare each child’s bag, showing them where their clothing and other belongings are stored. Starting around age 5 or 6, children can pack their own stuffed toys and games, although of course final parental approval will be required.
Bring along enough clothing for 11 to 12 days without having to do laundry, and remember warmer clothes for evenings, when it’s often cooler.
Tips for managing dirty clothes
There are nylon bags specially designed for holding dirty camping clothes. Great idea! No more ripped garbage bags! By about the tenth day out, you can do a load of laundry very early in the morning, when the campground laundry is less busy. Everyone can pitch in, and then pack their clean clothing in their own travel bags. This makes clean clothing much easier to find later.
Everyone should have a job when bags are being packed. Otherwise you can end up with duplicates of certain items or, worse, none at all.
One person can be responsible for towels, blankets and personal hygiene products not already in the RV. Another can handle all the food, the cooler, where papers are kept in the car, etc.
Bags must be kept somewhere specific in the house until you’re ready to pack the car and RV. When that time comes, take everything out to the RV and the car and put it where it belongs. Ideally, each bag will go in the same place whenever you head off on a trip. This method will greatly help reduce the chances of forgetting something or wasting time looking for it.
Leave unnecessary things at home
Keep to a strict minimum. Children can bring their MP3 players and videos, their game consoles and magazines and books with games and puzzles. Remember that these are mainly for use on the road, though – camping is a leisure activity in itself.
You can also bring along a chess game, a cribbage board, cards, a backgammon set, a Scrabble game and other little games that don’t take much room. A ball to kick or throw, baseball gloves and a Frisbee are essentials, especially on the beach. Many campers also pack a pétanque set and horseshoes. In fact, you can keep these items in the RV or car all the time.
Lastly, the swimming pool, beach and outdoor tourist attractions near where you’re staying are also basic camping pleasures!