Picture this: A night in the wilderness under the stars, sitting around a campfire laughing and exchanging stories with a group of your closest friends. Yeah, going camping with your crew is pretty hard to beat. The only hitch? Someone has to plan the trip in order to make it happen.
But organizing a great camping trip doesn’t have to be difficult. Just follow these tips—from getting the gear together to mapping out the drive—and you’ll be roasting those marshmallows in no time.
FIND THE TIME
Finding a couple of days that fints in all of your buds’ schedules can be a pain, but it’s still worth making the effort to do so; not making a camping trip can bring about the worst case of FOMO (fear of missing out). Luckily, there are ways to pick a date that make aligning everyone’s calendars easy: creating an online poll on sites like NeedToMeet orDoodle are the simplest way to get the job done.
DO YOUR RESEARCH AHEAD OF TIME
Once you know the when, you’ve got to figure out the where. A site like RootsRated.com is a great way to identify destinations that fit your needs. Looking for seclusion? A primitive tent camping site is your best bet. Plan to bring your pup or have a campfire? Check the park rules to make sure that's allowed. If you decide to stay within a designated park, other factors to consider are check-in times, site availability and/or whether you can make a reservation, and quiet hours. Alternatively, Bureau of Land Managment property can be a good choice because campsites are large, often free of charge, and frequently not crowded.
POOL YOUR RESOURCES
Group camping trips require a lot of coordination, but not necessarily color-coordinated tents. Ben Sutherland
Even if everyone owns their own camping stove, there’s no point in bringing ten. Plan out who is going to bring what group gear ahead of time. Also, check in with your less experienced camping friends to make sure that they know what personal supplies they should bring (and if you’ve got an extra sleeping bag, pad, or warm clothes, they may appreciate an offer to borrow those). Plan out your meals ahead of time, too, and divvy up who’s responsible for what on the ingredients list.
MAKE THE MOST OF THE JOURNEY
The drive into the woods is part of the adventure, so give the trip a good kickoff. Carpooling is ultimately more efficient—and fun—but can be tricky to coordinate. Smooth out the process by bringing the most spacious adventure mobile available to a predetermined meeting spot (big box store parking lots are great for that) and load up. Make sure you look up and save the directions to the campground ahead of time: Your favorite iPhone map app might not get service once you’re in the wilderness. Last but not least, make sure to bring car snacks and a good playlist.
LEAVE THE PHONE AT HOME
There are early risers in every group of campers. Roderick Eime
One of the best things about going camping is the opportunity to get away from technology and to immerse yourself in what’s right in front of you. So, this one is simple: Once you’re on the road, turn off the phone.
DIVIDE AND CONQUER
When you get to your campsite, there will be a lot of things that you’ll need to get done, from pitching tents to collecting water. The chores will feel easier and more relaxing if you tap into the skills of each member of your group. Pretty much every group of friends has at least one person who loves to build a fire, a person who prides themselves on cooking up a good meal, a person who likes to roam the forest in search of wood, and a person who doesn’t mind tidying up. Let everyone take the task that plays to his or her strong suit.
DON’T FORGET THE GOODIES
It’s the little things that can turn a good camping trip into a great one. Pack a bag full of treats—a bottle of whiskey, a deck of playing cards, s’mores fixings—to make your night in the woods a home run.
SHARE WHEN YOU’RE BACK HOME
Between the food, drinks, gas, and campsite fees, trip expenses can add up. Have everyone track what they spend on the group and then share the costs once you’re back. Apps like Kittysplit or Splitwise make this really easy.
And, of course, you’ll want to share the memories. Create a shared album on Facebook or Google so everyone can upload his or her photos. Thinking back on the trip will make you smile—and probably make you want to plan the next one.
Originally written by RootsRated for Superfeet.