Preparing and packing for a last-minute camping getaway doesn't have to send you into a tailspin. Being prepared and ready to go at any time with short notice can really help you to take advantage of that great weather forecast, the clear calendar or the last-minute change of plans.
While we recommend you also check out our tent camping checklist to make sure you have everything you need, here are our time saving tips to reduce preparation and packing time for those last-minute camping holidays:
1: Know where to go
If you are prone to impromptu getaways, you'll want to build up a list of your favourite campsites that you know will typically be available at short notice. Our how to find that ideal campsite article might be just what you need to find your ideal location for those last-minute getaways.
2: Organise, replenish and repair ASAP
Sometimes when we arrive home from a tiring camping trip, the temptation is to relax and get around to organising, replenishing and repairing your camping gear at some later stage. Instead, either at the campsite or as soon as possible on your return home, start getting organised for your next trip:
- Using the packing checklist as a guide, return items to their rightful bag or container, and replenish items that have been lost, used up or are in short supply.
- Do any necessary repairs and cleaning
- Wash and return camping specific clothes and linen to the storage area.
- Sharpen the kitchen knife and check the condition of utensils, tools and tent pegs / stakes
- Refill the gas bottle.
3: Designate items just for camping
Packing times can really blow out when everything is packed from scratch for each camping getaway and you need to search high and low for hundreds of items. Despite the fact you might not need two of the same item, set aside items for use ONLY for your camping and other getaways, including:
- LP gas bottle
- First aid kit
- Long life food, spices and condiments
- Refill the gas bottle.
- Kitchen, cookware and utensils
- Towels, including for showering and swimming
- Tea towels and dish cloths
- Carry bags and containers
- Lighting, torches and batteries
- Power cords, boards and adapters
- Compact games and cards
- Outdoor clothing (see point 4 below)
4. Establish a camping capsule wardrobe
Travel capsule wardrobes are an excellent way to reduce your packing time, even if it is just to include the less expensive clothing items, or those you might already have duplicates of in your wardrobe.
Maintain a separate bag for such things as underwear, clothing (base or thermal, middle and outer layers), footwear, gloves, bathers, beanies, fleece blankets, towels, and half your packing is already done for you. You might not take everything on every trip, but at least it will be clean and all in one place when it’s time to pack.
5: Centralise your camping gear
Speed up the time taken to locate your camping gear by storing it all in one place. If that one place is less than desirable, such as a dusty or hot garage or shed, consider storing personal or sensitive items in a second location inside the home, such as your bedding, clothing, towels, long life food, toiletries and the first aid kit.
For more storage ideas for your camping gear, check out our home storage solution.
6: Keep your car well maintained
Your typical camping trip is not usually a walk in the park for the average vehicle, especially if it is not well maintained and regularly serviced. In fact, camping and off-road driving can push even well-maintained vehicles to their limits. Keep up with your vehicle servicing and maintain it in good condition and you can head off at short notice confident your vehicle is up to the task.
7: Keep your freezer stocked
Always keep ice blocks and a frozen meal or two in your freezer ready for a quick getaway. Blocks and bottles of ice can help to cool down your fridge or icebox while on the road, and a frozen meal or two will take the pressure off the camp kitchen, especially on your busy first night away or for those short camping trips.
8: Charge your portable power banks and batteries
When not in use, most larger portable power banks and batteries should be maintained at least at 50% of their full charge, and even at that level they can take many hours to fully charge. If you are prone to heading off at the drop of a hat, make sure they are either kept fully charged at all times or charged up at least once a month. Charge all of your other smaller power banks and batteries and rechargeable devices as soon as the camping signal sounds.
For more related information, go to our articles on portable power banks and batteries as well as how to charge them.
9: Develop a packing and pitching plan
Procedures for packing your car for camping as well as setting up and packing up your campsite might seem to some of you to be a bit over the top, but they can really help to save time, especially for those last-minute and short getaways when time is of the essence.
Plan in advance how you will pack your car for camping and set up / pack up your campsite. For more on this, check out our related articles:
10: Be calm and methodical
No matter how organised you are, short notice can still cause a certain level of anxiety and stress which can cloud your judgement and cause you to forget things. Forgetting the tent floor saver might not be so bad but not so with the tent pegs.
Regardless of how little time you think you have, be calm and methodical as you work through your camping checklist as well as your process for packing your car for camping.