- Get your vehicle ready.Check your oil, tires and any other tune-up items necessary for a no-breakdown, side-of-the-road weekend. And for extra precaution, make sure your roadside assistance plan is up-to-date and includes trailer towing if you are going to be pulling your home-away-from-home on wheels.
- Check for fire restrictions before planning your menu. The method of cooking and your camp kitchen equipment matter. If you have a weekend of charcoal grilling planned and you’re not allowed to strike a match…your happy campers are likely to turn in to crabby campers faster than the speed of light. I’ve got some great camp recipes here for that very reason. (I’m speaking from lots of personal experience here…trust me on this one!)
- Plan your menu and make your grocery list.I also like to shop for and pack all of the non-perishable food items on my list so that I just have a short list of perishable items I need to pick up at the last minute. (If you need menu ideas, I have 50+ camping recipes ideas that are great for the campsite or the backyard!)
- Pack your clothes and gear. Then you just have to load them into the car before pulling out of the driveway. It’s a drag to hike in your flip flops(no matter how cute they are) because you forgot your hiking boots at home! And, sleeping under the stars is great if by choice…it’s not so great if you are doing it because you forgot your tent in the garage! I like using a checklist because it frees up my brain to concentrate on other things. Here are a few of my favorite camping checklists:
- REI’s family camping checklist
- Coleman’s checklist for tent camping
- Coleman’s checklist for RV camping
- About’s camping gear checklists
Night before your camping weekend
- Check for traffic and construction.“Parking” on the highway is a huge bummer! If your planned route is under construction, you don’t want to find out while you are live and in-person! I like having an old-fashioned road atlasin addition to the electronic version. It’s always a good idea to have an alternate route—just in case. Some of my favorite sources for information include U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration, you will also find regional links as well as weather condition information too. The Arizona Department of Transportation has great information for the The Grand Canyon State.
- Fuel up.There is no reason to get gas on your way out of town, you want to hit the road with momentum. So, get your gas and wash your windshield the night before your departure.
- Check the forecast. I hate surprises when it comes to weather. It’s a good thing to know if you should expect raindrops or sunshine along your route as well as at your destination. You may decide to take an extra umbrella so you can pull a Gene Kelly Singin’ In The Rain.
- Pick up the perishables. Make a quick trip through the store to get the perishable items from your grocery list. And whatever you do, don’t forget the ice! No excuse is good enough to suffer through a lukewarm beer!
The morning of the start of your camp weekend
- Load, lock and go.Load the stuff you packed last weekend and lock up. It’s annoying to wonder if you forgot to lock the front door…so don’t be annoyed. Have a designated person that is responsible to ensure the house doors and windows are locked, the alarm is set and the coffee pot is off (and any other item you can think of that would just bug the heck out of you to wonder about.)
With all of that said, make sure to have fun and remember the reason for the season. Sure, it’s really nice to have an extra day off of work…but be sure to plan a little (or a lot) of time to pay tribute to those who have died while in service to our nation because that is what Memorial Day is really all about.
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