It’s hard to have a more relaxing time on vacation than when going camping. When we decided to stay close to home this summer, camping was our go-to plan. The fresh air; no cell service to distract you from nature; sleeping under the stars … mosquitoes; loud RV owners, having to put on a jacket and a headlamp in the middle of the night to go pee; what’s not to love?
Jokes aside, I really enjoy camping; having the proper gear and a good packing list counts for a lot though, and preparation is key. I had a lot of fun getting ready, checking our equipment and planning for meals and created this useful camping checklist you can download from the Shop.
Planning a Camping Trip
Our plans were to visit three provincial parks and be gone for a 10-day trip. We only use a tent so a longer trip starts to be a bit hard on the body. I think if we were to go for a longer period, we would have to alternate with some B&B stays or try glamping for sure.
As with any trip, I try to bring only items we’re going to use. I like to be prepared, but I hate lugging extra things that don’t get used, just in case. I’m not trying to rough it either, I like to be comfortable, so I strive to find a happy medium between bringing the essentials and dragging everything but the kitchen sink.
We looked at the weather and brought everything on our camping checklist except for extra blankets, toque, and mittens. We came to regret that a bit, as it was colder at night than anticipated, mainly because of very windy conditions.
There are a few essentials that are obvious like a tent, sleeping bags, a stove and a cooler. Others just make camping comfortable like a small basin to wash the dishes, a hatchet to cut firewood and extra blankets to keep you warm :). Let me know in the comments below if I missed anything.
I got a little intense on meal planning and realized that we could have bought a few items along the way, not have to bring everything with us and have a bit more variety. Nonetheless, we ate well, maybe a bit too well, and didn’t waste food or deviate much from our plan. I made chili and froze it as well as other meat we had. That helped keep the food longer in the cooler. I also pre-measured most ingredients, like the crepe mix.
|Eggs & Bacon||Chicken Wrap (leftover roasted chicken)||Taco Salad|
|Crepes||Couscous Salad||Chilli (frozen)|
|French Toasts||And a lot of leftovers …||Fresh Pasta Salad|
|Oatmeal||Black Bean Salsa|
|Yogurt & Granola||Smokies & Roasted Potatoes|
|Peanut Butter & Jam Sandwiches||Burgers|
We packed everything in my little car, we even brought our bikes and started our journey down to Southern Alberta to Dinosaur Provincial Park (UNESCO World Heritage Site). I love it there; the landscape is so different from canyons and hoodoos. We were testing our new tent for the first time, which we bought with the proceeds from our garage sale and we’re very happy with our purchase; especially Dave who now doesn’t have to sleep diagonally to fit.
Three days later we moved on to Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park and for one glorious night, we had a campground all to ourselves. It was quite amazing. There was also a somewhat hard-core 9 km bike ride up, up, up to an amazing view and down, down, down a root studded single-track trail.
Near the border with Montana, Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park was our last destination. There we saw many deer roaming around the Milk River, very cute cottontail bunnies and one annoyed rattlesnake. Well worth the road trip. Each of these parks is well maintained and presented interesting interpretive trails and tours.
Red Rock Coulee and Head-Smashed-In-Buffalo-Jump, another UNESCO World Heritage Site, was also on our list of places to visit.
We really needed this vacation time and feel much calmer than when we left. It’s hard to plan for every little detail but so worth the time and effort. I can even say that my brain got decluttered and worries sort of fluttered away with smoke from the campfire.