Van Life

A quick and useful guide to planning a camping trip

Planning a camping trip is the perfect way to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life, reconnect with nature and create nice memories. Best of all, perhaps, it’s accessible and affordable. Whether you are a seasoned camper or a first-timer, a well-organized camping trip can make all the difference between a great experience and a chaotic disaster. Therefore, it’s worth putting in a little bit of planning. To ensure your camping journey is a success, follow this quick and useful guide to plan your perfect outdoor escapade.

1. Choose the right destination

The first step in planning a camping trip is to decide on the destination. Research different destinations you wish to explore. Consider factors such as distance from your home, the type of landscape you desire (mountains, forests, lakes, or beaches) and the activities you’d like to engage in (hiking, fishing, swimming, etc.). Choose a location that suits your preferences and activities. Keep in mind the weather conditions during your planned camping dates to ensure a pleasant experience.

To help you choose, I will give you some recommendations for great camping locations in the United States and the United Kingdom. The United States for instance, offers a wealth of incredible camping destinations for nature enthusiasts and adventurers alike. Think about the Yosemite National Park in California that captivates campers with its iconic waterfalls and towering cliffs or the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee to explore forests and abundant wildlife. For a desert camping experience, Joshua Tree National Park in California is a great option.

The United Kingdom also offers an array of recommended camping places in nature. The Lake District presents serene lakes and rolling hills, providing a perfect backdrop for hiking and camping adventures. The Scottish Highlands boast rugged mountains and breathtaking landscapes. For coastal charm, Wales’ Pembrokeshire Coast features stunning cliffs and sandy beaches, offering a refreshing seaside camping experience. Additionally, Dartmoor showcases vast moorland which provides a unique and immersive camping setting. Whether you prefer mountains, coastlines, or woodlands, the UK has it all.

person wearing black jacket standing on green grass field near lake
Photo by Gabriela Palai on

2. Determine the duration

Once you’ve settled on a destination, decide how long you want your camping trip to be. Whether it’s a weekend getaway or an extended stay, understanding the trip’s duration will help you better plan the logistics, pack appropriate supplies, and create a rough itinerary for your activities. Your schedule (and the school holidays), will help you to determine the dates. If you can avoid it, try to avoid the school holidays, since this is when the crowds will really descend.

3. Research campsites

If you like a certain location, it’s good to research the different campsites that are available. Choosing the right campsite ensures your safety, privacy and comfort. It can also help you to find suitable terrain for pitching tents and setting up a campfire. Consider how much privacy you desire. Some campsites are more secluded, providing a sense of solitude, while others might be more crowded with fellow campers.

Furthermore, it’s important to check the rules and regulations of the campsite and to make sure you can comply with them. This includes permits, camping restrictions, and fire regulations.

Another thing to keep in mind, is the level of amenities that you need. Some campsites offer basic facilities like restrooms and water sources, while others may have more extensive amenities, such as picnic tables, fire rings, showers or swimming pools. Don’t forget to check that there’s somewhere nearby where you can replace your propane canister.

A great example to research campsites, is to use this map of campsites in Iceland, along with relevant tips. Find essential information like the campsite’s fees, amenities, and nearby activities to make informed decisions. Book a campervan and make it easy to get to the next campsite and sight. Just inquire ahead of your trip and make the necessary reservations because Iceland gets pretty packed during the summer.

4. Reserve your spot

The popular campsites will quickly run out of capacity, especially during peak times. It’s therefore essential that you book as early as possible. You’ll have a choice between a camping pitch (which is a patch of earth that you can pitch a tent on) and a space for a motorhome or caravan.

5. Research the area 

It’s a good idea to do a bit of research on the surrounding area before you set off for your holiday. You can research the best things to do in the local area, the top attractions and sightseeing spots, as well as finding the best food and drink places! Once you have this knowledge, you can either plan out your days or be spontaneous and decide when you are there!

I always use GetYourGuide or Viator to look for activities in destinations that I don’t know. Those platforms are easy to use and you can even make a reservation for something in advance.

person holding a map
Photo by cottonbro studio on

6. Make a meal plan

Making a meal plan is another important thing to do when planning a camping trip. A thoughtfully crafted meal plan allows you to efficiently organize your food supplies, eliminating the risk of running out of essentials or carrying extra unnecessary weight. Opt for simple and easy-to-prepare dishes that require minimal cooking and cleanup. Don’t forget to bring snacks and enough drinking water to stay hydrated throughout your trip and remember to keep in mind the limited resources and cooking facilities available on the campsite.

7. Prepare for all weather conditions 

Weather can be unpredictable. It might be summer, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be any rain, wind, or the chance of a thunderstorm! It’s best to be prepared for all weather conditions. Make sure to pack some warm clothes just in case it’s chilly and wet. It’s also a good idea to bring a gazebo or somewhere to shelter from the rain or sun if you are bringing a small tent. You will appreciate the shade and breeze, rather than sitting in a stuffy tent!

8. Test your gear

Testing your camping gear before going on a camping trip is very important. It can make the difference between a smooth experience and a frustrating or even dangerous one. By setting up your tent, inspecting your sleeping bag, testing your stove, and checking other gear, you can identify any issues or malfunctions, familiarize yourself with its operation, and become more efficient in using it on-site. Believe me, tents with holes in them aren’t much fun to sleep in. This proactive approach helps prevent unexpected surprises during the trip, such as missing parts, broken equipment, or uncomfortable sleeping arrangements.

man setting up his tent
Photo by Thirdman on

9. Pack the right gear

To get the most out of your camping trip, it’s important to bring the right equipment. Earlier I already wrote a camping equipment checklist for first time campers. Chairs, a sleeping bag, an airbed, a torch and a first aid kit are for instance all essential. Choose a tent that accommodates the number of people camping and a tent that provides suitable protection from the elements. Bring a sleeping bag and sleeping pad that ensure you have proper insulation for a good night’s sleep and bring enough cooking equipment like a portable stove, cooking utensils and food storage containers. Don’t forget to bring a headlamp or flashlights, so you can navigate in the dark. As you experience camping, you’ll learn to appreciate which items really make a difference.

Most campsites will provide a list of facilities. Check what’s available, and don’t make any assumptions. If shower facilities are available, you might not be as reliant on those built into your motorhome. Stock up on toiletries in any case. You can never really have too much toilet roll!

thermos books and photo camera on camp tent
Photo by Uriel Mont on

10. Prepare your motorhome

If you’re heading out in a motorhome, ensure it has undergone its MOT (Ministry of Transport) test, ensuring it complies with all necessary safety and environmental standards.

Equally important is checking the tire pressure and ensuring they are properly inflated. Well-maintained tires not only enhance the handling and stability of your motorhome on the road, but also contribute to better fuel efficiency.

While ensuring your motorhome’s mechanical aspects are in top condition is crucial, it is equally important to take care of the legalities involved in traveling with your motorhome. One of the most important requirements is having appropriate insurance coverage. This is where specialized motorhome insurance can be especially worthwhile, because standard car insurance might not suffice when it comes to motorhomes due to their unique nature.

11. Leave no trace

As camping enthusiasts, it’s our responsibility to protect the environment and to leave no trace of our presence. Practice leave no trace principles by packing out all trash, respecting wildlife and vegetation, and using established campsites and trails. Let’s preserve the natural beauty for future generations to enjoy.


In conclusion, a camping trip is the perfect way to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life and reconnect with nature. Whether you’re a seasoned camper or a first-timer, a well-organized camping trip can make all the difference between a great experience and a chaotic disaster. By following this quick and useful guide for planning a camping trip, you can embark on a well-prepared journey. From choosing the right destination and determining the duration of your trip to researching campsites, making a meal plan, and testing your gear, each step is essential for a successful camping experience. Remember to be prepared for all weather conditions and leave no trace of your presence to protect the environment. Happy camping!

If you have any questions about the above mentioned information, please let me know in the comment section below. I’m happy to help you. Safe travels!

Author: Daphne

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