how to pack for tent camping

How to Make a Cheap Camping Kit


As a kid, my family and I went on numerous camping trips.  In hindsight, it was a great source of free family fun (since we camped at a relatives wooded property up north). But the first time I went camping as an adult I learned a hard lesson: camping as an adult is a lot more work than camping as a kid!

Andrew, Nora and I went camping in June with our church.  It was a really great campground, right on the lake. Plus, my parents were there which meant we could mooch off their lot and not have to pay full-price for an overnight stay. Bonus!

Except it rained the entire time!  Camping in the rain isn’t so bad in a camper – but we are TENT CAMPERS!  And it was pretty miserable.  And cold. And wet.

But, alas, I’ve talked hubs into going camping again, just a month and a half after our first rainy camping experience.

You see, my family has been camping together the first full week in August at the same campground for generations.  My grandmother camped here as a child!  Growing up, my cousins and I always looked forward with great anticipation to the week spent camping.  We could relax, play, do girlie things, swim all day if we wanted to, and just have fun!


I did take Nora when she was younger, but for the last several years I haven’t gone camping with the family.  After divorcing Nora’s dad, I no longer had a camper.  And I certainly didn’t want to put a tent up and stay in it by myself!  But, several years after, I did finally break down and buy a tent.  We went camping once.  It rained, and it was freezing cold.  And that was no fun.  So the tent went in the garage and didn’t come out until last month when we went on our church camping trip.

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Anyway, back to the story.

Andrew knows how much this family camping trip means to me and said we could go!  Now, we’re not going to the week (not enough vacation time from work for that) but we’re going up for the weekend and I am so excited!

Since I’m not much of a camper, I researched what to pack and started making a list.  That turned into more of a project than it probably should have been!  I researched tent camping and reviewed checklists other people created, determined this would be a much better experience than our previous camping trips.

for next summer: How to make a cheap camping kit

In the end, I came up with this MasterCampingChecklist.  I created it so it fits my needs perfectly!  But I have it available for download in MS Word format so you can make changes as many changes as you need. (If you want it in PDF, just send me a message and I’ll convert it for you!)

At the top is a place to plan out the camping menu.  And then there are categorized checklists of items beneath that for perfection in planning!

Last night, I got right to work packing!  I wanted to make a dedicated camping tote (in hopes that Andrew will be more open to camping in the future).

Here’s what I came up with:


It has a frying pan, a pot, bowls, plates, silverware, tupperware, baggies, garbage bags, dishtowel, dishcloth, doggie doo-doo bags, a leash/tie out for our dog, bathing towels, a deck of cards, first aid supplies, a kids horseshoe game, and I’m sure there’s more that I can’t remember putting in there!  

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Anyway, these are the basics all in one tote!  And it fits perfectly in the trunk of my car.  So now to pack for camping, I just need to grab the tent, air mattresses, pack our clothes and food and that’s it!  I feel much more organized and like I have completely simplified the process, which means less stress for me!

We still need a few basic things – we have no cookstove and nothing but a small cooler.  Our plan is to cook on the fire and to buy a cooler on the way there LOL

I’m so looking forward to this weekend!  I’m hoping it will be a nice, relaxing time spent with family!  And it will be my husband’s first real family camping trip experience… he’ll probably suffer Xbox withdrawals (sorry babe, you know I love ya!).

Interested in re-publishing this article on your blog or website? Awesome! All I ask is that you send me a quick note via my website so I can give you permission. Thank you!


Amy Beardsley

View posts by Amy Beardsley
Amy Beardsley is passionate about personal finance and debt reduction. In 2015, she and her husband Andrew started on a budget making, debt-destroying journey to put an end to the cycle of living paycheck-to-paycheck once and for all. Join her at where she blogs about their progress and offers advice on real money for real women.
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