As I’ve mentioned in my previous posts, for this trip we are car camping, which means that we bring everything that we may need with us in my Hyundai Santa Fe. You might ask, “How much can you really fit in a car?” My answer would be a ton. Anyone who knows me going back more than ten years might remember me packing to head off to college. The pile of things that I planned to fit into my dorm room was massive and my family of 5 had to take 2 separate cars to drive me and all of my stuff up to school. Many people doubted whether I would be able to actually fit everything in the room when I moved in. However, every single item fit beautifully, as I made use of every single trick I had learned while working at Linens N’ Things and every single space saving product we sold. I had everything I could have possibly needed in that dorm room, which was convenient since I didn’t have a car. When packing for this trip, I used the same philosophy, assuming that at any point I could be in the middle of nowhere with nothing but the contents of the car. Needless to say, I packed a lot. Some (mostly Tim) would argue that I packed too much, but I was a Girl Scout after all, so I do like to be prepared.
Items packed for this trip can be categorized into the 5 C’s: camping, cooking, clothes, carry-ons, and car.
Camping equipment included all of the items that we needed in order to setup camp, including tents, sleeping bags, sleeping mats, pillows, lanterns, flashlights, and supplies for lighting a fire. The majority of these supplies were in our cargo box on top of the car, which worked out well as you want your camping supplies easily accessible on days that you are camping, since you put your tent up first when you arrive at the campsite. However, on days we weren’t camping we certainly didn’t need the equipment and it was nicely out of the way so we could access our other supplies. When choosing a cargo box, we spent quite a long time deciding on a brand and the appropriate model, because we wanted to make sure that it was absolutely watertight (as it is no fun sleeping in a wet sleeping bag) and we wanted to make sure it would fit both the car and all of our camping supplies. We decided to go with a Thule, which came highly recommended by one of Tim’s coworkers who has had his for almost 20 years, and it has worked out wonderfully. The only negative of the cargo box is that it made parking in various cities tricky since we often had to park in garages that have height restrictions. I’ve already spoken a bit about the sleeping supplies in my camping post, so take a look there if you’re wondering what our sleeping setup was like.
Cooking supplies took up a large portion of the car including half of the back seat and half of the trunk. Included in this category were all of the actual food items we had at any given moment as well as the supplies we would need to cook and eat the food. The back seat housed the cooler and grocery bags, which carried all of our perishable items, as well as another bag filled with easily accessible snack foods and paper plates and plastic utensils. The trunk held two large plastic bins for nonperishables and cooking supplies, as well as a portable kitchen, propane stove, and a two gallon water jug. In terms of perishables, we tried to keep only the items that we would use in the next few days, as we had limited room in the cooler and most things will go bad quickly in a hot car. The nonperishable bin included spices, tea, cooking oils, and staples like rice, pasta, and canned items. Also thrown in with the nonperishables were things like aluminum foil, Ziploc bags, and trash bags. The cooking supply bin had mostly items that you would expect to find in your kitchen cabinets, including pots, tea kettle, griddle, dishes/bowls/mugs, silverware, thermoses, Tupperware, cutting boards, knives, mixing bowl, strainer, cooking utensils, extendable campfire forks, collapsible bucket, dishwashing bin, dish soap, sponge, and a bunch of other niche items you would find in your kitchen drawers, like can and bottle openers, a peeler, etc. Although quite a few of these items came directly from our kitchen at home, we also purchased some specialty items which are designed for camping and tend to be lightweight and are either collapsible or designed to nest inside other items to save on space.
Clothes took up the other half of the truck with his and hers 30 inch duffel bags storing clean items and a third larger duffel storing all of the dirty items. Given the length of our trip, we had to visit the laundromat quite a few times and so we had detergent and dryer sheets tucked into the back as well. Each person packed 10 days’ worth of clothing, but how they were organized inside using gallon plastic bags differed by whose bag it was. Tim went with the drawer method putting all of his shirts into one bag, all of his socks in another bag, etc. I organized my duffel such that each bag contained all of the items necessary for one complete outfit, so that I could easily grab a bag and not have to worry about matching articles of clothing (although I must have looked like an insane person with a massive case of OCD separating outfits and filling all of my bags in the laundromat). The trunk also had a bag filled with shoes, including hiking boots, water shoes, and shower flip-flops.
Carry-ons items were mostly contained within our backpacks in the back seat and included all of the other personal items that we wanted for the trip or accumulated along the way. This included water bottles, toiletries, towels, cameras, computer, schoolbooks, walkie-talkies, IPads, 3DSs, headphones, knife/multi-tool, playing cards, tangoes (puzzle game), and souvenirs. Often we had bags within bags in our carry-on items, so that we could grab all the necessary items for a shower just as easily as we could grab all of the items to bring into the tent at night.
Car items were things that never left the car such as items used for driving, car maintenance, or emergencies. This included the GPS, atlas, power inverter, IPod with external speaker, notepad for logging mileage and gas usage, windshield wiper fluid, cleaning wipes, toolkit, and first aid kit. These things were spread throughout the car and hidden in as many different places as we could find. This meant that the usual places, such as the console and glove box, were filled as well as some more unusual places. The best hidden spot in my car was by far the hidden storage compartments located in the trunk, were we kept the majority of our emergency equipment and anything that we didn’t need to access daily such as extra supplies. As we emptied the back of extra supplies, we filled it with many of the smaller souvenirs that we picked up along the way, including our now extensive collection of Christmas ornaments.