GoCampingAmerica.com | Posted October
    5th, 2014


    Camping Hacks for


    Happy Camper Blog



    Ah, the
    family camping trip: fun-filled days at the lake or river, restful afternoons
    lying in a hammock slung between two trees, roasting marshmallows by the
    fire, and snuggling into cozy sleeping bags at night.

    least, that’s what glossy magazine covers and campground brochures would have
    you believe about the experience. If this idealized version of events doesn’t
    exactly mirror your own camping experiences, you’re not

    My first few excursions into the great outdoors with
    my kids involved more work than play, more chaos than relaxation, and far
    more dirt (on everything) than I bargained for. In the years since, I’ve
    learned some tricks of the trade that have turned my camping trips into
    (almost) the postcard version.

    Want to ensure that your
    next camping trip is relaxing, stress-free, and focused on the fun, not the
    chores, in the outdoors? The following camping tips will ensure more time in
    the hammock and less time over a camp stove.

    Double Duty Camping Items
    Source: Fix.com

    is the key to creating a relaxed camping atmosphere. Reduce clutter around
    the campsite and shorten your packing list by bringing a few ordinary objects
    that can double as useful camping tools.


    • Instead
      of hauling bags of ice (and dealing with the mess), freeze plastic water
      bottles and let them slowly melt, first cooling your food, then ensuring
    • Skip the bulky camping lantern: instead,
      simply wrap a standard headlamp around a clear plastic water jug. It will
      light up the entire picnic area for games of cards after
    • No need to bring sleeping pads
      and water toys. Sleep on plastic blow-up air mattresses
      that can go straight from the tent to the lake. Float on them during the day
      (or take a nap!), then return them to the campsite each
    • Don’t buy an expensive camp kitchen set. Bring a
      hanging shoe organizer to store camp kitchen supplies, such as spices or
      grilling tools.
    • Why buy fire starter or chemical-based
      gel? Use dryer lint as your fire-starter: simply save lint in cardboard egg
      carton pockets, pour wax over each pod, then bring along to start your
    • If you buy coffee at home, there’s no need to buy a
      toilet paper roll container. Store toilet paper rolls in your empty plastic
      coffee containers (the big ones work best). The toilet paper will stay dry
      and be easy for kids to find when they need


    Must-Have Luxury Items
    Source: Fix.com

    not every camping item can be “MacGyvered” from items you already own. A few
    camping “luxury” items can go a long way toward ultimate comfort and fun in


    • A
      good hammock:
      We stand behind the Grand Trunks Goods double hammock (as
      reviewed on PracticalTravelGear.com), which is easy to set up, comes in a
      compact stuff sack, and fits two people
    • Headlamps for everyone: A
      headlamp can be picked up for under $10 and allows for hands-free
      illumination. We’ll never return to clumsy flashlights
    • Hydration packs: Want kids to
      stay hydrated? Outfit them with small hydration packs (one liter will do).
      Most day packs now fit hydration pack bladders, which can be purchased solo
      for under $30.
    • Water shoes for the
      Say goodbye to stubbed toes and splinters in little feet.
      Water shoes can be worn in and out of water, performing double duty as light
      hiking shoes. We love the Keens and Columbia
    • A dining set for every family
      Check out Light My Fire: this camping product
      company makes individual meal kits that include a plate, bowl, cup, and
      utensils that all fit together. Kids take pride in ownership, which means
      they’ll do their own dishes.
    • Mosquito bands,
      candles, or clothing:
      Mosquitos are an unfortunate evil of outdoor
      recreation, and repellent spray is often unhealthy and smelly. Mosquito bands are a non-intrusive
      alternative, and they can be bought for just a few dollars. Ditto for
      citronella candles, which can be set out on picnic tables after dark. If you
      want to go high-tech, try insecticide-treated clothing, with repellent
      infused directly into the fabric. Exofficio.com and Columbia.com both make
      shirts, pants, and bandanas in this fashion, but they won’t come
    • Sun and shade shelter: Everyone
      remembers a tent, but many campers overlook the convenience and comfort
      offered by a sun and shade shelter. These simple canopies can be set up over
      picnic tables for shaded meals and card games or brought to the lakeshore to
      protect kids from the sun.



    Families can have all the right gear and convenient
    household items, but if you’re still slaving over the camp stove, your trip
    won’t be relaxing. The following dining hacks make meal prep and planning a
    breeze. We prefer to cook most of our meals over the campfire or on the BBQ
    to make food fun and clean-up


    • Grill
      fruit on the barbecue:
      Fruit is more appealing than grilled veggies
      to kids, and with a little whipped cream, you can skip the marshmallows. We
      prefer to create fruit kabobs with stone fruit such as peaches, pineapple,
      grapes (cut in half for young children), and strawberries. Local berries
      bought at farm stands or even picked by the family work well,
    • Make “pocket” dinners: Create
      pockets of tin foil and fill with sliced potatoes, zucchini, onions, and
      other veggies, and then let them cook in the coals. It’s best to use heavy
      duty foil to ensure that ashes don’t get into your meal. Each pocket is
      customizable and fun to eat! Best of all, when you’re done, simply ball up
      your foil and toss it on the fire. Dishes are done!
    • Pack
      milk substitutes instead of cow milk:
      Milk substitutes like soy,
      almond, and rice milk don’t have to be refrigerated, and vanilla or chocolate
      flavors are appealing to most kids, so there’s no need to worry about keeping
      milk cold for breakfast cereal.
    • Skip the
      Use empty snack-size chip bags as individual serving
      “bowls” for chili, stew, or even oatmeal. Kids love these “on-the-go”
    • Don’t get fancier than boiled
      If you really want to simplify mealtime, buy dehydrated
      backpacking single- or double-serving meals. They taste just fine in the
      wilderness, require only boiling water, and take about five minutes to


    Cooking Up A Storm
    Source: Fix.com

    Close to Home

    There is no need to drive hours for a family
    camping trip. Find a campground close to home to keep stress at a minimum.
    Plus, being near home allows for spontaneous camping or quick returns home
    for forgotten items. Check your region’s state park listings and then search
    for available sites online. KOA.com is a good resource for campsites with
    kid-friendly amenities, like pools or mini golf courses. A short drive and
    familiarity with the surroundings helps campers to relax more