The Art of Car Camping
It all happened accidentally. It was never planned at all. We’re about to go on what my friend called as a secret paradise in their town using my car. My car can only accommodate 5 people in it. Good thing there are only four of us. Along the way, my friend just told us that we are heading a different way. We tried the other routes but as soon as the moon starts its grand entrance, I finally gave up. I told them we need to spend the night somewhere.
I just took some turns and look for a comfortable space where we can spend the night. And they all gave me the look of ‘as in here?’
It was the first time for all of us. It is like a slumber party – only it is in the forest. The moon is shining so bright and the stars are sparkling like they want to be with us. In the end, they all just nod with the idea that we will be sleeping there the whole night. We ended up telling storied until the wee hours of the morning.
I came to love the idea since then. They think it was scary but as for me, it was a different kind of thrill. It is like bringing my frugality to the highest level. No expensive accommodations for you and you even get to sleep comfortably in your own car. Since then, I started car camping with my friends – sometimes alone.
What is Car Camping?
This is an activity where you can set up a camp or sleep somewhere far away from your home without the usual luxuries in your life. Instead of tents and huts, you will be using your own car in here.
It is not such a bad idea after all especially if you are going to consider the ‘priceless’ accommodation compared to a real hotel booking where price is expensive.
The Solo Traveling Car Camping
Since I find myself on solo travel most of the times, I prefer car camping when my trip is just out of town. If you are about to embark on a solo travel car camping, the rule here is ‘less is more’ and bring only the basic things that you will need. Big enough blanket to keep you warm at night
First aid kit
1 liter of water (you can always refill along the way)
Your own selection of camp food
Light weight / sized stove
Pot (should you want to cook)
Cutleries and a knife (a pocket knife will do)
At least a 100 feet of rope (preferably nylon) In case you want to set up your own tent outside your car that is when you will need to bring these additional things:
Where to Solo Car Camp?
24-hour convenient stores
Malls that has a pay parking sign or a big parking lot. You can even chance upon a free one!
Churches or religious buildings
Car camping sites
National park camping sites
Remember to look out for any signs that you are allowed to car camp. Otherwise, look for another place. The last thing you want to worry about is having your car towed.
When you are with your family or friends, you may require more things to bring. This is true especially if you are with kids. But I rarely experience bringing in kids with me on my car camping trip. As for a single gal like me, it is still a big NO – for safety and security reasons, of course.
You will just need to double the numbers of the things listed above if you are with a group. Additionally, since there is a large group involved, a space will also be a concern. You may cross out some list above since it is impossible to car camp that way. Forests or park camp sites are more suitable for a group.
How to Have a Smooth and Sailing Car Camp
Whether you are alone or with a group, you need to make sure you do these things:
Before the Car Camp
Before you start on your car camp, do a research first. First thing you want to know are the places where you can car camp. If you have a place in mind and are not really planning for any accommodations, try to check if there is a place nearby where you can camp.
You may also check out some organized camping groups around the world and join in. These groups provide a tent city for big events or just for a ‘meet and greet’ purpose for old and new members.
Check your car’s condition. Make sure everything is in top shape.
Buy all the things you need. Make a list of everything that you need on your trip to make sure you don’t miss out on anything
During the Car Camp
If you are going to camp in a park or forest, dig a hole for your human waste. Manners in this kind of situation are highly needed. The last thing you want to hear with your co-campers is how messy you are. That might be the last time you will car camp with them. Always make sure your water is filled. Do not leave it open as you do not want any spillage or drinking to any nearby lake as you does not know how safe it is. You better be on the safe side than be sorry in the end. Always make a rain check before you go to sleep at night if you are not missing out on anything important.Do not forget to socialize if you are in a camp event where you do not know most of the participants. If you still like to do car camping with an organized group, it will help to get in touch with touch even after the car camping event is done.
If your group belongs to another big group of car campers, make sure to position your tent near your colleagues so all of you can keep an eye to each other’s thing while one or two needs to go somewhere else
Waking up after a long sleep in your own car can make you a little disoriented and all sweaty. If you want, you can open the window for ventilation purpose. Or, you can put a cloth cover on the window so the wind can still pass through and still safe with the midnight bug bites. *Do not forget to apply insect repellent before you sleep at night.
After the Camp
Clean before you go as a respect for nature and the next campers who will be using the place.
Your list is not just important before you head out to your destination. You do not want to go back to the camp place (especially if it is very far from your home) just because you need to have that very important thing back to you.
Do not forget to keep in touch with your newly found car campers for your next trip!
Check your car’s condition before you head back. You do not want any car-related inconvenience along the way!
Exciting enough? Hey, it is time to tune up your car and go out for a car camping trip!