How To Pack For a Last Minute Camping Trip

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Your friends call and invite you out for a weekend of camping. Your house is a mess and you were supposed to spend the weekend getting “caught up.” You quickly decide that the household responsibilities can wait and announce to your family,

“We’re going camping!”

You have one hour until you need to be on the road. It feels like an overwhelming feat, but yet you’re up for the challenge. Here’s a quick, step by step guide on how to pack for a last minute camping trip!

Get Your Checklist

screenshot camp checklist

Go to and join our mailing list. You will instantly be sent an “Ultimate Camping Checklist” that will guide you through the camping packing process.


Hunt and Gather

pile of camping gear by the door for how to pack for a last minute camping trip

Get the family together and assign each person with an item that they need to fetch. As they bring it back make a pile of all of your items (and keep assigning tasks until you have everything you need off your list!).


Trust Your Kids

our camping pack list for how to pack for a last minute camping trip

Get your kids to pack their own bag. This is a really great opportunity for them to develop an understanding of how they can take care of themselves and what they need to be prepared. I give my daughter who can read a written out list of what to pack, and I draw pictures for my son.

They hit their rooms with their bags and fill them with what they think they need. This doesn’t always work perfectly, but when they come down 70% of their packing is done and I just need to review and make some tweaks. Saves time and builds confidence!


Group Items in Categories

camping items grouped together for how to pack for a last minute camping trip

Group your sleeping gear together, kitchen gear, personal items, into piles. Use large duffel bags, back packs, Rubbermaid bins, and smaller mesh bags to organize and pack your items. I use the term “pack” loosely as I wouldn’t recommend spending a lot of time strategizing and folding. Get it in the general vicinity of where it needs to go and then throw it in a bag!


Don’t Forget the Essentials

camping essentials

I have an “essentials” kit that always is ready to roll. It includes important things like first aid items, bug spray, biodegradable soap, and a nightlight. It’s a grab and go item that is always ready to be packed.


Throw it all by the Door

camping gear ready to be loaded into the car

Have one parent throw all the bags by the door and the other load the car. If you have a truck throw a tarp over everything and a net over top to control the tarp and keep it from flapping.


Grab and Go

inside of save on foods

Stop at the grocery store and get the essentials… spaghetti and caesar salad for dinner, hot dogs for lunch, bacon and eggs for breakfast. Stop at the Gas Station for gas and some snacks and you’re on your way! Reward your family for helping you get on the road!


Have a Great Trip!

kids having fun on the beach while camping

We don’t have enough days of camping in our lives so never turn down a trip because it seems like too much work. It’s always well worth the effort! After all, campfires are the original “social networking site.”


Now that you know how to pack for a last minute camping trip, we challenge you and your family to get camping this weekend! Check out my blog post: Top 5 Long Weekend Escapes for some ideas of where your next adventure could take you!


About The Author
Jami Savage
Jami Savage
Jami Savage is one of the top Family Travel Writers in Canada, and has been featured on CTV and Vancouver Sun, and more. Go here to read our families story about how we went from backyard adventurers to world travelers, and how you can do the same. If you want to send Jami a quick message, visit her contact page here.
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Jami Savage

Full Time Travel Writer, Mom who is passionate about empowering and educating travelers on how you can use your own tourism dollars as a catalyst for positive change worldwide. Click here to learn more about us, our family, and how we lead an adventure filled life!

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