A bunch of you know by now, we have a 1982 Coleman Sequoia pop up camper, and we love it. This past week, we took it out for our first long camping trip (the longest distance and the longest stay we have taken with it so far...720 miles round trip and 5 nights) to Kitty Hawk, NC, and it was probably my favorite vacation to date. I've had a lot of people asking me how in the world we do this with 3 young boys, so here's a list of things that you might find helpful!
You can also see our camping packing list for summer here!
1. Try airbnb.com. I know people usually think of Airbnb as a place to rent houses or rooms, but that is where we found our campsite in Kitty Hawk, and I have noticed several others like it since then. Our campsite was at someone's home, so it was private, shaded, included wifi when we needed it, and it was just really wonderful. It also had the most beautiful live oaks and an outdoor shower with lots of hot water! No complaints.
2. No shoes in the camper. Probably seems obvious, but y'all, it made such a big difference in the cleanliness of our camper all week. We put a basket right outside the door and the boys wore Crocs all week, so when they went into the camper? Shoes right into the basket, and most of the dirt stayed away.
3. Get the twinkle lights. We ordered some from Walmart that I think are sold out, but they are LED and the globes are plastic, which is perfect for camping. We hung them around our awning with clothes pins! It was wonderful to have some lighting outside without having to fuss with flash lights or lanterns (we saved those for trips to the bathroom, etc), plus they just look pretty.
4. Keep the packing simple. And keep the duffle bags in the truck. I just went out every morning and got everyone's clothes for that day and brought them to the camper. It kept the clutter to a minimum, which is a big deal when you have 5 people living in such a small space for close to a week. (If we still had the Suburban, I would have gotten those plastic drawers and kept them in the trunk.)
5. We didn't cook this week. We want to try that later on, but we kept it simple this time around because we knew we would be at the beach all day and I would be working some, too. We ate cereal for breakfast, cold cut sandwiches for lunch, and simple dinners out for supper.
6. Keep it organized. Again, I know this seems obvious. Or maybe not? Regardless, do it. I kept our cabinets organized inside with plastic shoe boxes like these and I labeled them all. One with kitchen type things. One for sun screen and bug spray. Etc. etc :) We made beds every morning and put the fold out bed away. The more organized you are, the less crazy you are going to feel, promise.
7. If you don't have air conditioner (our 1982 model certainly doesn't), take some fans. We had 2 fans in our pop up that we left running all night, and we left the sides unzipped. It really wasn't bad at all!
8. Go ahead and come to the understanding that camping isn't always smooth sailing and it is a little (or a lot) dirty, even with a camper instead of a tent. This isn't resort or beach house vacation life. I was so glad that we had taken our camper out for a few short weekend trips before taking it out for this long, and I'm also glad that I grew up camping occasionally and sort of knew what to expect. We were hot for a couple of nights (rain = zip the camper up and have no air flow), it took us longer to get there and longer to get home than normal, and when it was time to pack up and go home it was also time for a torrential downpour that lasted the whole morning. We left soaking wet after packing up the campsite that was under 3+ inches of water...but we could really only laugh about it. These are adventures and they are fun, even if they are also a little dirty and stinky and less than luxurious. We love it that way.