If you’re reading this article then you might have come across the car camping term while looking up different camping styles or maybe you stumbled upon it from one of the many online camping forums online.
Car camping is a fun and intriguing concept and it’s all about keeping it to the bare minimum when camping so you can really “rough it out”, as it were. You step out of your vehicle and into the great outdoors immediately, with minimal setup needed.
The great thing about this type of camping is that it’s accessible to everyone and it’s pretty easy to do. Read to learn more about what is car camping and find out if it’s for you.
What is Car Camping?
Car camping is an accessible way to get out into the great outdoors without the complexities and barriers attached to camping that often keep people from getting out there. It’s also a great way to experience camping without necessarily going all-out on a multi-day trip.
It’s also great for when weather conditions don’t allow much flexibility or when you’ve planned to do several activities that require loads of gear.
It doesn’t matter what kind of camper you are, you’ll love the following car camping tips to help you plan the ultimate trip.
How to Set Up Camp
What is car camping if not simple? Car camping gives you options and guarantees safety while you’re still developing systems.
That way, when you go camping the next time, you’ll know what to do and how to set up in the quickest amount of time possible.
1. Book a Campsite Way in Advance
The good news is that most local and state parks are accepting of this type of camping. But, private camping grounds created solely for car camping are also available.
Some are more comfortable than others but you probably won’t need much in the way of amenities since you’ll bring most of the essentials with you. These places are perfect for beginners because they’ll give you the experience you need to improve your planning over time.
The most important thing is to decide where you’ll go. Perhaps somewhere along the sea? Or maybe tucked away in the mountains? Decide how far or near to home you’ll like to be. This will help you narrow down your options. Once you’ve decided on a campsite, make a reservation to avoid any disappointment or you will have to resort to walk-up camping if you don’t want to get back home.
2. Pick the Right Vehicle
Larger vehicles are usually recommended for camping because they can carry a lot of stuff, especially if you plan to spend a few nights at the campsite. You obviously don’t want to bring a sports car, but your SUV or family sedan will do just fine.
Just don’t bring your Corvette or a low-riding two-seater to the campsite. Please. You’ll look like an amateur and you’ll definitely regret it once you realize what’s actually needed when camping.
Four-wheel drives are by far the best camping vehicles around and you should definitely consider investing in one if you plan to make camping your lifestyle. It can get you through any terrain and can handle any weather condition.
Once you have chosen the perfect ride for your camping adventure, it pays off to install a rooftop tent on your vehicle too. As the term implies, a rooftop tent is meant to be installed on top of a vehicle, which is above ground. This vehicle feature is great if you want to go on an extended road trip using your van, 4WD, or SUV, providing you a safe place to sleep, away from vicious and dangerous wildlife creatures out there.
3. Take Food and Water with You
Clean drinking water isn’t always guaranteed when camping. Most campsites don’t have potable water at all, so you should always bring plenty of clean drinking water.
Bring extra for washing and cooking, especially if the campsite is completely rugged with no shower facilities. As a car camper, you have the luxury of packing as much food as you like without worrying about space. Just be careful to keep the food cold and fresh.
Your trunk is probably large enough to handle a portable camp stove and essential food ingredients that you’ll need to cook breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Bring plenty of snacks and pre-made meals too, for when you don’t feel like cooking.
4. Get Ready to Sleep Outdoors
Car camping is all about camping out of your car and it’s similar to other types of camping when it comes to the accommodation side of things.
Unless you’re going to bring a waterproof tent and you know how to insulate your tent for winter camping, then you’ll probably end up sleeping in your car a few times if the weather gets rough. Otherwise, a regular-sized tent should be sufficient to accommodate one or two people.
5. Don’t Make Noise
Sound travels fast, far and wide in open spaces. It’s even worse if you’re close to a lake, river or any other body of water. It’s important to be considerate of your fellow campers in this regard. Avoid blasting music from your car or phone and make sure you make your camping generator quiet in order to reduce noise pollution.
Even if you think you have the best taste in music, other people might not agree. Plus, most people go camping to get away from loud noises, so it’s really annoying when someone decides to bring it with them and irritate everybody with sound pollution.
Also, playing music will chase away and displace the wildlife in the area which defeats the purpose of going out to experience nature in the first place. Those squirrels and birds you wanted to photograph? You won’t find any if you bring your city noise pollution with you.
This includes raucous laughter and shouting too. For the best experience, talk in normal tones and avoid anything “extra.”
Top Activities You Can Do While Car Camping
The great thing about car camping is that it allows you to explore and enjoy a wide variety of outdoor activities. As soon as you set up camp, you can go hiking, swimming, fishing and so much more.
You’ll most likely spend the whole day doing these activities and only come back to your camp at night. You might bring your ukulele or guitar so you can play music or tell stories sitting in a lightweight camping chair around the campfire.
You can even bring board games and cards to keep you entertained for days on end. Sunrise canoes, delicious swims or swaying on a kayak overlooking the water are some of the activities you can enjoy if you have a body of water nearby.
The point is to relax and have as much fun as you can. That’s the whole point of camping. Enjoying the peace and serenity of nature. The sounds of birds and insects. The sight of a starry sky or a perfect sunset. It’s an otherworldly experience.
Car camping is an accessible activity whether you’re doing it alone or with friends and family. All you need is the right mindset, supplies and planning to get started.
We hope you’ve learned what is car camping through this guide, and you will use this information to plan a trip that you’ll actually enjoy.