Travelers' Tips

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Traveler's Tips

The following tips include some helpful advice, ideas, and guidance from fellow campers to guide you in your future camping excursions...

Take a 5 gallon white plastic bucket. Take the housing off of a droplight. Cut a hole in the bucket lid and secure the light into it and put the lid back on. Then just hang from the bucket's handle. Lots of light and hardly any bugs.
- Clint Stagg

When you go to the shower and you prefer to use a bar of soap, just take a extra knee-hi panty hose with you and it will be just like having a soap-on-a-rope. Also make sure to take a clothes hanger and plastic bag with you to the shower, as most shower stalls have no place to hang your clothes. Just put the hanger on the shower bar and put your old clothes in the plastic bag while showering. HAPPY CAMPING!
- Pam McQuay (Baltimore, MD)

When camping with a toddler, we use a booster seat that has a snap on tray. We then strap it to a folding lawn chair. This way the little one has his own table that is just his size.
Kim Bozek
Bridgeview, IL

During our week of vacation and also on our weekend trips, I always prepare the menu ahead of time. That way I can prepare extra meals (spaghetti, chili, beef stews, etc.) and freeze them ahead and they are ready for the trips. The smaller size packages takes less room in the freezer or cooler and stay cold longer.

We use bungee cords for a quick clothesline at the campsite. Just find 2 fairly close trees and loop a couple of cords around the trunks and hook together. Voila! Instant drying spot for wet swimsuits, towels, etc with no damage to the trees.

We also use bungees to strap down our cooler to the picnic table. This became part of our routine after some night visitors managed to pry open our cooler and make off with bacon, a london broil and potato salad!

Deep (about 15") tubs with snap-on lids make wonderful storage for just about anything: food, clothes, kitchen stuff, etc. They are waterproof, stackable and even seem to foil the critters! We bought ours at a local grocery store, but I've seen similar ones at all the big discount stores.
Gail Brown
Lafayette, LA

My husband and I camp in a tent so there is no place to put the groceries once you get to the site. I purchased several large plastic see-thru tote boxes. I put the non-perishable food in them. They stack easily under the end of the table and you can see what's in them right away. When we return after our trip I pack everything that we need in them. The tarps, stove, propane bottles etc. That way when we decide at the last moment to "run away," all I have to pack are our clothes and the van and off we go!
Tim and Barb Forand
Athol, Massachusetts

While there really isn't any wasted space in the recreational vehicles sometimes you still find you need more room. I found the shower stall area while not being used most of the time is a perfect place to store items in a plastic see/thru storage cart with drawers.

I put our paper plates, napkins, cups and cultery, salt/pepper or whatever needed for meals in it. When set up at campsite we just take it out and set on picnic table and you don't have to go in and out of trailer when setting up for meals. Its water proof and very handy.
Donna Duncan

We use a plastic bucket to carry cleaning items to the showers or vault toilet when camping. Filled with such items as disinfectant, rubber gloves, paper towels, disposable wipes, etc. as well as our soaps and shower items, with paper items in palstic ziplock bags. All these items remain in the bucket so it is always handy when we are visiting a new facility and are not sure of it's cleanliness.
Bob and Ruth

My parents are retired and head out with the camper for months at a time. To stay in touch with us "kids" they purchased a pocketmail. We all have computers and email. This is a battery powered, portable email system. It can be used on any phone.

My mother types messages while traveling and when they stop at a gas station, she heads for the pay phone and sends the message. It will also receive messages at the same time, so we can also let them know what's going on at home. They're not computer literate, but this device is very simple and they love it. Debbie Van Tassel

We have a travel trailer, and the clothes will not stay on the clothes rod when traveling. Do you have any hints on keeping this from happening?
Bob Alfred

When I tent camp I carry my kitchen utensils, hatchet, dish soap, washcloths and dish towels, 1st aid kit, matches, a good knife, flashlight (extra batteries) radio, and whatever else you need in a small-to-medium sized Rubbermaid container. After each meal this serves as my "dish washing sink."

When the camping trip is done, everything goes right back in it. Under the lid I keep an inventory sheet and stock it when I get home before my next adventure. Camping is the best.
Doug Kenney
Batavia, IL

Fill plastic pop/water bottles almost full with water and freeze (16oz - 2 liter, depends on your space). Put them in your cooler instead of bags of ice or gel paks. Bags of ice melt and leak, and sometimes so do gel packs (yuk). Also, you will have fresh, cold water. If it will be a long trip, consider containers with screw-tight lids that you can refill with ice during your trip.

If you have kids, the freeze pops (the kind that come sealed in plastic sleeves) work well at keeping things cool. If they melt, kids still like to drink them. Just remember to have something to cut them open with.

Soak a (unused!) baby diaper with water, put it in a Ziploc bag, then freeze. When the water melts, it's not going very far! Great for coolers and injuries too.

We have found a pair of two-way walkie-talkies to be invaluable when we camp; wonderful for guiding the driver of a 5th wheel back into a tight spot without shouting loud enough for the whole campground to hear, or keeping in touch while backpacking and out of sight of each other. Great for mall shopping with kids too, or anywhere you may get temporarily separated!
Teri and Mark
Beaverton, Oregon

I've been a camper since I was a child and love it! I have 2 great tips to share:

First: to save space in the cooler, when I make my KoolAid, instead of using jugs, I put it into Zip-Loc bags and freeze it flat. Then it fits nicely into the cooler and helps with the cooling.

Second: those expensive fire starters - I recycle. Take the carboard egg crates and put it on your dryer as the lint comes out, lay it in the egg crate. After the crate is full, find some old candles and melt wax all over the crate. It makes such a great starter and doesn't cost a dime!

In our extensive travels, Alaska 5 times, we have used every shower and bath house imaginable. Having a wet towel to dry out can get to be a pain. We have found that if you use your wash cloth first and get all the water off your body (having to wring it out several times) then finish up with your towel, that the towel stays almost dry. This is especially nice when you have limited space in your RV for hanging up wet things.
Bernard and Shelley Abell
LaGrande, Oregon

I live in the Netherlands and am a proud camper. Usually I go on bicycle camping trips in Holland. In 1999 we rented a RV and camped in Canada and the United States of America. With a RV from London, Ontario to Niagara Falls, Washington, New York City, Newburgh, Ticonderoga, Ottawa, Midland and Toronto where we started and finished our tour. Now I'm back in Europe where I live and work. If there are people considering a bicycle vacation in Europe, I can help you with a packing list. All you have to do is send me your e-mail and I will send you the list completely free of charge. I hope to hear from you soon.
Peter Gemmink

We have a popup camper so when we go camping we always use showers at the campground. Once, while camping on a crowded weekend the showers acquired a small problem. They were the kind that automatically dispence the hot and cold water together and for some reason would only give hot water! We just happened to carry a large, 20 gal. bucket style tub we got a Wal-Mart. We put our 4 yr. old's toys in it. It was like a tub with two handles. They normally sell them for horse buckets. It came in very handy -- we used it for a bath tub!

Ever light your campfire to find out that a breeze is blowing the smoke into your tent or back toward your picnic table? We tear a small piece off of a plastic trash bag and tie it to a tree brach with a piece of fishing line. The plastic will move with the direction of the breeze even if you can't feel air movement allowing you to spot your fire accordingly.
Bob and Pat Caswell
County N.C.

Hi, my husband and I are avid campers -- lots of weekends in the summer and our vacations are spent camping. We are in the "thinking and talking" stage of taking a year long trip around the country. Do you know of anyone that we could chant with that has experienced this and could offer us some helpful suggestions, help us think of things we might be missing? We would greatly appreciate it. It certainly would be interesting to talk to someone who had done it. We look forward to hearing from you.
Lora and Stephen

Car Trip Fun: Cure those “are we there yet” blues. Spot a license plate and call out the letters on it. Everyone then tries to come up with a different phrase using the letters in the order they appear. For instance, LML could be “little men laughing” or “love mashmallows lots”. When you can’t think of any more look for another license plate.

Don’t leave home without it: flashlight/batteries, cell phone charger, camera/film, duct tape (!!)

Keep your tires in tip top traveling shape. Pick up a good quality tire pressure gauge and check your tires prior to rolling. Remember to check and change inflation pressure only when tires are cold.

When we were tent camping, we used a large plastic tool box to hold our kitchen items in. We found a bright yellow one so it stands out. The top tray is great for holding grill utensil, knives, and other items. The main section held several bottles/jars of seasoning, plus small plastic containers with coffee, sugar, and other items.
Cliff Maurand

Get a 5 gal. bucket and fill it about half full with sackret cement mix. Install a piece of 1-1/4" PVC pipe 3-4' long, level it up, then pour sackret down the PVC pipe to make it sturdy. When you go camping, just install your satellite on the PVC. If it blows over, you'd best grab the kids and wife and go home - the weather is too bad for anything!
Port Neches,Texas

My wife has asthma so we can not use ant granulars around the hitch, leveling jacks, or anywhere the critters might get in. So we learned a trick from the doctor for a natural ant repellent that won't affect her condition; cayenne (ground red) pepper around the tires, hitch, etc. really works.
Johnny Thrasher

I love to go camping as often as possible for the past 16 years so I have tried out a lot of tents. I have returned to the same place, Glen Lyon, for at least 4 times a year every year, without fail. It can get very windy, I would say a 30 mph was a slight breeze sometimes. The best tent I have found is a tent that is shaped as a tunnel. They are easier to put up when it is windy. They are steadier than other tents, plenty of room inside and lightweight. The worst tent I have ever erected has to be the dome tent. Good looking design, but totally useless against the wind. Ridge tents are by far one of the best (especially one-man tents), only problem, the big ones can get heavy.

For an inexpensive pole for your satellite dish use 1 1/4 inch plastic PVC pipe with screw on type pipe connections to tune and disassemble.

When our family goes tent camping, I take along a tarp and a clothesline. The tarp can be used either for covering the campfire wood or the tent in case of rain. The clothesline I string from two trees. I use it to hang wet towels, swim suits, coleman lantern, anything that you want up out of the way. It is much easier and nicer to have a dry bathing suit to put on. My dog doesn't always like the water where we camp, so I take along water from home in gallon jugs. She has her own water from home and feels much more at home wherever we are.

I have a four and six year old that wanted to bring every toy in their room camping with them. To keep clutter down and everything in its place, I bought them each a clear, plastic shoe box with an attached, flip-up lid. Now they each know that they can only bring what they can fit in that box. It forces them to choose wisely and its easy to pick up and store.

Make sure you go over the security issues before checking into a campground. Get their quiet times and make sure they abide by it or you could be left with a bad camping experience. If the quiet time is 11:00 pm, make sure the campground shuts the place down and not just says, "oh well, they're having fun...."

We are a family of 5 and love to camp ... but the dirty clothes were getting out of hand. So I bought a trash can with the lid you use you foot to open you push it, it pops open. The 3 year old can even get his clothes in the "hamper". It is easy to get to the camp laundry area also. I set the trash can just out the door of the pop-up camper. Rain doesn't bother it and the animals haven't yet.

When camping or going on vacation, I have found that being prepared is crucial. I purchased an inexpensive tackle box ( one with a pop up tray) and filled it with basic and essential items. I included such things as: bandages, alcohol wipes, benadryl, antibiotic cream, tums, hand sanitizer, q-tips, tylenol (adult and childrens), nail clippers, tweezers etc. Things you need for those minor emergencies that crop up when you are away from home. Make sure to check expiration dates on items and replace things when you use them!!
Shippenville, PA

When camping we always take a couple of cases of bottled water with us. We always freeze one case before leaving. Works great for keeping the coolers cool and it's also wonderfully cold on some of our hot days.

Instead of buying ice for the cooler, add water to gallon or 2 gallon milk jugs and freeze ahead of time. Keeps the cooler cold and provides cold drinking water - I fill one jug with water and the other with kool-aid and freeze both!
Mark and Shelly Luger

We have found it very handy to bring along postage stamps .. we have often wanted to send postcards along the way but could never get the stamps ..and when we did they were very expensive. Hope this note helps.
Denis and Anne Picard

A tip I have is to have some man-made fire logs like Duraflame logs for when it's hard to find dry logs or is good for starting your campfire when there is no kindling to get the fire going, and they last a few hours so you can use one or two logs of this type of log with regular log you have a campfire that uses less regular logs and strays burning well for hours.
Don Knott
Lindenhurst, IL

With my kids I put each day's clothes in a zipper style plastic bag. I lay out a bag each night for them to wear the next day. Dirty clothes go into the laundry basket until time to wash. When the laundry is done the outfits go back in the ziplock until next wear. This saves time with mixing and matching clothes for the kids and their socks and underwear are right there, too. Also, saves room in camper drawers.
Cindy Prior
Anoka MN

I print up journal pages on the computer that we fill out on the way home from each camping trip. It lists where we went (including site number), who went, what we did, what the weather was like, special memories and comments for each person, the best and worst things that happened and most important: "Did we forget anything?". We have great fun reading our journal and it's a great way to remember each trip. My only regret is we didn't start it years earlier.

We replaced the tabletop in our popup. My husband cut out a piece of plywood to match the old table and used the old hardware on the new table. When done, I stenciled a checkerboard on the new table. It is really cute and useful for our kids!

Make a common family list of things to pack one week ahead - keeping in mind your daily routines. Separate lists are easy to miss needed items. Medicines, dietary guidelines, emergency phone numbers etc. Re-check pack list daily.

Photocopy all your travel arrangements and leave them with a friend or relative so that they can reach you at any point along your journey in case of an emergency.

Take along a zip-closure bags in several sizes. They will be welcome for holding loose odds and ends that you accumulate, or wet items that haven't had a chance to dry before packing.

Road trips are the perfect opportunity to use those special easy treats for children and adults too; juice in boxes, and easy-to-eat snacks, Don't forget wet wipes, napkins and trash bags.

Keep a color picture of your child's face in your purse or wallet in case he or she gets lost in a crowded park or shopping area.

Give each child a disposable camera and spiral notebook at the start of the trip to make notes and take pictures of special activities.

Take along some rest stop toys: great items are a beach ball, frisbee, jump rope, and chalk for hopscotch. All encourage movement.

When traveling with children and/or adults, my husband and I play the game of keeping a list of how many fifth wheels, travel trailer and Motor homes we see. Also keep a list of how many different states we see on the highway on cars and trucks and trailers. Also how many Ford, gmc/chevy, or dodge trucks we see pulling trailers or fifth wheels. Hope this helps on the long highways we travel on our way to campsites.
Judy Baldoni

Highway flares - those red colored sticks that look like a stick of dynamite? They can be carried behind the drivers seat and are good for: emergency stops on the hiway, day or night; starting camp fires when your wood is damp; warding off bears in the middle of the night - or any other intruder! Can be carried in a back pack to start fires and signal for help.

When my wife and I go tent camping, we use a lot of plastic storage boxes, the type you find in WalMart and KMart or Big Lots. On a trip to Cape Hatteras we got rained on, and the clothes in suitcases got soaked and ruined when the colors ran. The stuff we had in plastic boxes stayed dry.

We have different boxes for different categories of camping gear... the light box, the kitchen box, the food box (we have a large box with a place for a padlock on it, and a bicycle chain for locking it to a solid object, essential for camping with the raccoons in Florida) and his and her clothes boxes (with toiletries and personal hygiene stuff in a separate case). We also have a boat box (for our rubber raft, life jackets and oars. We don't always take the boat box), a bed box, a mattress box, and a stove box (which also contains a folding oven and fuel for the stoves)

We clean our gear a little bit at a time when we return from a trip, and then repack the boxes. Then we're ready to load the truck quickly and we're on our way.

To hold everything in the bed of the truck so it won't blow out, we put an inexpensive nylon hammock over the entire bed and tie it down with bungee cords.

At the campsite we sometimes use a small tent for storage of the boxes. It makes the campsite look much neater.

To keep perishable foods cold longer, we freeze large blocks of ice in ziplock bags at home. It melts slower than crushed ice, and can be used for drinking or cooking because it does not contact food in the cooler.
Dave and Suzie
Elrod Maryville, TN

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