Honest Questions Every Beginner Car Camper Should Ask Themselves

Honest Questions Every Beginner Car Camper Should Ask Themselves

Honest Questions Every Beginner Car Camper Should Ask Themselves


Car camping is hands down one of the best ways to get accustomed to the outdoors, especially if you’re a little bit hesitant. This experience gives you the chance to take in the outdoors at your own pace, with a little bit of familiarity; your car. If you need some tips about your first car camping experience, there are plenty out there. But, if you’re looking for a more honest take on the activity, then read on.

Who Can and Can’t I Tolerate in the Wilderness?

Car camping is typically done in groups, whether it be a family with young children or some close friends. You can’t really choose your family, but you can choose who you go camping with. Just like you have friends for going out with, friends for drinking coffee with, and friends for catching up with, we all have friends for going car camping with. Choose your group wisely, as it can have a huge impact on the weekend overall.

Can I Take Off of Work?

Car camping can be done anytime, but most people choose to go over a weekend. For families with small children, it’s ideal to go on a weekend when the kids are out of school and parents are out of work. But, if you have more flexibility with your schedule, then you might actually prefer to go during the week when it’s less crowded. Keep in mind that certain campgrounds have peak seasons and aren’t open during the off-season. That being said, there are campsites that are open all year round, but you must keep an eye on the weather.

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How Much Am I Willing to Spend?

Car camping is not free. Yes, there are free campsites that exist, but they can sometimes be hard to find. Just because you won’t be sleeping in a hotel doesn’t mean you won’t have to pay anything. Car campers need to pay for parking, the campsite, to rent equipment, etc.

How Far Am I Willing to Drive?

Because you don’t need to hike to your campground, you have a lot more flexibility about where you want to camp. That being said, you need to ask yourself how far you’re willing to drive. Our best advice is that you should never spend more time on the road than you will at your campsite.

How Long Can I Go Without a Proper Shower?

Some people love car camping because they are essentially bringing their house outdoors with them. Some people love it because it’s an easy way to get as far out into the backcountry as possible when they only have little time to do so.

Car camping can be nice for any kind of person. No one knows you better than you, so you need to decide what you’re comfortable with. Are you okay with no showers for the entire weekend, an outdoor shower, or a shower in your RV? Ask yourself questions like these before you make commitments. Remember, lots of campgrounds come with amenities that you can use, but they might not always be the cleanest.

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What Can I Live Without?

You’re going away for a weekend, and you’re going into the outdoors. As far as clothing goes, there’s no reason you need anything more than you would need for a weekend at the in-laws. And, don’t bring anything fancy. It WILL get dirty.

While a car gives you room to bring more stuff, that doesn’t mean you should. After all, you still need to carry it from the car to the campsite, even if it’s just a few feet. And, you need to pack it up when you’re done, too.  Tent, sleeping bag, blankets, pillows, first aid kit, and food. If you forget anything, remember, this is a chance to experience minimalism at its finest.

Can I Realistically Follow ALL the Rules?

Need we say more? The rules are there to protect you, especially beginners who aren’t really sure about everything. Stay away from animals, don’t litter, and listen to park rangers. You’ll be in good hands.

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Do I Have an Alternative?

Camping is amazing. But, sometimes it rains. Sometimes your car gets stuck. Sometimes, that last minute campsite is fully booked, and you don’t have a place to go.

Therefore, always have a Plan B. If you’re worried about the weather, just reschedule, or bring a lot of indoor activities to play. Sometimes, campground neighbors will be noisy and nosy, and that can put another damper on the experience. Bring headphones. Read reviews. Ask for recommendations. Your car camping experience SHOULD be a memorable one, so prepare yourself as best as you can, and as with any outdoor adventure, go with the flow.

Have you asked yourself these questions? Good! Now you’re ready to go car camping. 

hanalarock I'm Hana- a freelance travel writer and teacher who currently lives in South Korea. I'm originally from New York, but have spent the last two years traveling and living abroad. My first time hiking in the US was when I traveled around the country as a teenager. Though, my first adult backpacking trip was a year ago, when I hiked from Thailand down to Singapore for a month. I'm looking forward to many more adventures in the future. Visit my site for more information.