One of the best ways to enjoy summer is to go camping. It’s a chance to get outside and be surrounded by nature. If you happen to be a city slicker and think camping isn’t your thing, think again. Until two years ago I never thought I would be a camping kind of girl, but after one long weekend away I was hooked. From one city girl to another, when you want to get away from the hustle and bustle, there truly isn’t a more affordable and enriching experience than camping.
So what does a city girl need to make the most out of a camping trip? Here is your go-to guide for all your camping essentials.
You will need some basic camping gear to get started. Here’s what I recommend:
- Air mattress
- Air pump
- Sleeping bag
- Micro fleece sheets
- Cooler (with wheels)
- Lanterns (battery-operated)
- LED lights (to hang outside the tent)
- Entrance mat
The best place to shop for all your camping gear is Target. For the tent, I highly recommend a Coleman Instant Dome. I like the Coleman® Signal Mountain™ 4-Person Instant Tent. If you’ve never camped before, putting together a regular tent can be quite challenging. With the Instant Domes, all you have to do is extend the pre-attached poles and knock your stakes into the ground, that’s it! Most tents come with stakes, just remember to buy a mallet to hammer your stakes with.
As for the air mattress, you can buy whichever one you feel is most comfortable. I like the regular air mattresses and not the camping air mattresses, I find the regular ones to be much more comfortable. For the air pump, remember you need to get a battery operated one and always bring extra batteries with you.
You should bring your own pillows and I would pick up a set of micro fleece sheets. They’re incredibly soft and warmer than regular sheets. When buying a sleeping bag, pay attention to the temperature. If you get a sleeping bag that is good for 50-degree weather, you’re going to freeze if the temperature drops below that. I recommend getting a cold weather sleeping bag, such as the Coleman® King Size Cold Weather Sleeping Bag. This way if it’s not too cold at night, you can open it up like a blanket and when it’s cold, you just zip it up and sleep inside where you’ll be nice and warm.
Your personal gear is going to consist of clothes and personal items, such as your toiletries. Here’s my personal gear list for you:
- Shoes/boots/flip flops
- T-shirts/tank tops/sweatshirts
- Socks (bring extra)/underwear (of course!)
- Clothes to sleep in (which can be a sweatshirt and a pair of sweatpants)
- Rain gear
- Body wash
- Tooth brush/tooth paste
- Toilet paper and/or tissues
- Feminine products
- Medications (if necessary)
You may think this is a long list, but just remember, all the personal items fit into one bag and that bag is packed with your clothes. You can save money by packing all the personal items you already own. If you prefer to get travel sizes, you can do that too.
For your clothes, everything you bring should be really comfortable. Remember to bring hiking clothes too. I like to wear yoga or fitness clothes, because it’s comfortable and breathable too. One thing I like to bring is a couple of summer dresses or even sarongs. After a long day of hiking and exploring, there’s nothing better than slipping into a light and airy summer dress.
Hopefully wherever you camp you have a chance to hike. Hiking can be as strenuous or relaxing as you want it to be, it all depends what level of hike you choose. I like a strenuous hike, because I want to get a bit of exercise in. Here’s my hiking gear list for you:
- Back pack with a 2L hydration pack
- Extra water
- Hiking shoes or rugged sole running shoes
- Walking stick (optional)
When hiking, the most important thing is timing your hike. The best time to hike is early in the morning or late in the afternoon, especially in the summer. If your hike is strenuous and you’re hiking in the middle of the day, you can get dehydrated easily and develop heat exhaustion, which can get serious. Most of the hiking areas provide fresh water you can fill your back pack with. If not, always make sure you travel with plenty of water and fill up before your hike.
For your hat, it can be as simple as a baseball hat or what I like to use, a wide-brim straw hat. Always put your sunscreen on before and bring a tube on your hike. Don’t think you can get away with an SPF of 15 or 18, go for at least an SPF of 30.
As for snacks, definitely bring a few Bounce balls! My favorite is the Peanut Cacao flavor. You can also bring protein bars, nuts, fresh and/or dried fruit and peanut or almond butter packs like Justin’s.
Finally, there will be some miscellaneous items you need to complete your camping trip. Take a look below:
- BPA-free plastic plates and cups
- Regular or compostable utensils
- Small cast-iron pan
- Sharp knife
- Bug repellant
- Baby wipes
- Hand sanitizer
- Large Ziploc bags
- Camp chairs
- First-aid kit
- Mobile phone chargers
Two years ago when my husband and I went camping together, we bought these beautiful, BPA-free plastic plates and cups. We have continued to use them ever since. It’s up to you if you want to buy cheap, reusable utensils and if not, compostable ones are good too. The sharp knife is for whatever food you need to cut. We bring a ton of avocados, apples, oranges, etc., so that sharp knife comes in really handy.
Camp chairs are a must and there’s a variety to choose from. And the mobile cell phone charger is important and can be charged in your car.
I live and die by baby wipes. The ones I always get are the Babyganics brand from Target. You can take your makeup off with them, freshen up after a hike, clean things with them, they are my use anytime, everywhere product.
As for the large Ziploc bags, they can be used for all sorts of things. Dirty clothes or shoes, after you clean your plates and utensils you can put them in one, for extra personal items, to keep your sheets clean, for anything you like.
You might be wondering, what about food? Cold brew coffee mixed with almond milk and stevia is great for your morning coffee. Crackers and/or bread with almond butter for breakfast or sliced avocados for lunch is filling and delicious. I bring lots and lots of fresh and dried fruit, protein bars, cut up vegetables, salad stuff, nuts, and granola. For dinner, depending upon the campsite you’re at, it’s usually easy to cook on a campfire. Every place has a different set up, but you can use a small cast-iron pan, put a piece of foil over it for easy clean up and roast vegetables.
As for where to camp, check out Roadtrippers.com. It is your one-stop shop for everything you need to plan your camping trip. The site helps you plan and map out your road trip, whether you’re going to one destination or many. It will show you camp sites near by, places to check out and it all syncs with your phone.
If you know your way around, but just want some campsite information, check out KOA . With almost 500 locations across the country, you can’t go wrong with camping at KOA. Most locations have public showers you can use.
Well there you have it! All you need for your camping trip. Do keep in mind that you will spend a bit of money preparing for your first trip, but it will be an investment for years to come.