8 Lessons from Our First Year of Camping

I dreamed of getting a camper since I stayed in an Airstream in Salida, Colorado on a solo road trip back in 2019. Three years later, my dream of purchasing a camper came true. While it wasn’t the Airstream Bambi I had been dreaming about, it’s perfect for Teddy and I in this season of life. The Bambi would not have been ideal for two dogs and two people.

It’s been about one year since we purchased our camper so I wanted to share a few of the lessons we’ve learned over the last year during our camping journey –

  1. Take Your Time – I tend to be someone who wants to do things quickly and despises wasted time. Getting the camper has been such a lesson in telling myself “We’re not in a rush.” While we aim for this, there have been times that we’re hurried to get somewhere so we can set up before dark or so that we can leave before it’s too late in the day. When we’ve done that, we’ve accidentally left a truck door open and Bailey jumped out to go visit neighboring campers and we’ve forgotten something while packing, usually food or something for the dogs.
  2. Budget Extra Time – Towing an RV is always going to take longer to get somewhere than travling by car. You’re budgeting for lower travel speeds as well as the potential for a different route due to sharp turns, steep inclines, or low bridges.
  3. Plan ahead – I try to think about what we will be making on our trip the weekend before and plan accordingly when I get grocery delivery. We don’t really eat out when we camp other than pizza on Friday nights. I usually plan out two breakfasts for our Blackstone, then two additional meals and usually a small snack or sandwich for our way home. Writing this out ahead of time and making sure I have the groceries already is very helpful and avoids a trip into town.
  4. But Remain Flexible – While we plan ahead with groceries, sometimes things change and we’re away from the camper longer than planned or due to a missing ingredient or rainy day, we adjust what we are cooking. I try to plan meals that are specific yet flexible. For example I will bring bread, rolls, wraps, as well as 2 lunch/dinner meats, 1-2 breakfast meats, a few sauces and seasonings, and then a few different sides like a salad kit, potatoes, mac and cheese, and veggies. This way we can mix up how we eat the foods and the breakfast each day isn’t the exact same, and we can determine what sides or meats we want at each meal.
  5. Make It Easy – I created a list in my phone in the Reminders app I use for when we pack to go camping. It includes clothing, dog items, entertainment, and other things to pack. I go through and check things off as we pack, and then the next time we travel I just mark the list not complete so I can start over.
  6. Everything Has a Place – Everything in our camper has a place – both during travel and when we’re camping. In the cargo area, this includes leveling blocks, various hoses, cleaning supplies, tools, and chairs and tables. It also includes the items in the camper. Dog items, dishes and bowls, books, extra bags, dry food – it all has a place. This saves us so much time from having to look for things or figure out if we forgot anything on the travels.
  7. Define Ownership – Teddy owns driving the RV and outdoor set up and tear down. This includes emptying the tanks, checking tire pressure, making sure we have enough propane, and so on. I own booking campsites, planning meals, packing up the dry and cold foods, making sure the dogs have what they need, and then setting up the inside of the camper.
  8. Find Rest – Rest can look different for everyone. Some favorite ways for us to rest are to sit by the campfire on a nice night talking, reading, listening to music, or making smores. We also like to take the dogs out to a local park and go for a hike or walk in the area. Reading is also a way for me to relax as well as napping. In an ideal weekend, I get to sit by the fire, visit a local park, read, and nap. And I feel so rested for the week ahead.

Leave a Reply