We left for our camping and roadtrip through the lake district (central parts of Finland) to the west coast pretty spontaneously in June. We had planned to do it, and in preparation even bought a new tent for the trip (tip: we paid less than half the price when we bought it from UK, that’s including the shipment, but had planned to leave a bit later. Then we had so much fun camping on an island in the Helsinki archipelago on midsummer that we just decided to leave the following morning. So in the spur of the moment we threw a few things in the car and left.
In the car I was wondering what we forgot. Pre-kids we could be pretty spontaneous but with kids not so. However, we were in a country were we know where to get things, we had our credit cards and we were on a road trip so we figured it was easy just to drive to the closest town to get what was missing. And we don’t have a baby anymore.
We really enjoyed the trip, the freedom of hardly any schedules and the family time (Please find more of a summary in pros, cons and cost of the trip), and we want to do more of this kind of travelling (there’s an excellent blog about a Finnish family roadtripping in the beautiful Norway in Swedish here). In case I never get organised again, it will pay to create a packing list now with this experience fresh in mind. When I earlier listed a few things, my first thoughts, we were actually already on the road. I got some great tips then, especially from the fun loving Kate who goes camping every year. What a great list she added to the comments, one that I now have incorporated below for everyone to have! Thank you, Kate! She has a good sense of humour, a fantastic teen aged son and an entertaining blog, so go check it out!
Things to consider when packing:
1. Is this a roadtrip too involving many packing, unpacking and repacking moments or rather a trip where you go to a destination and stay there? If you are like me, in the former you only want what is necessary but nothing more than that, and in the latter a bit more to make things more convenient are welcome.
2. Are you one of those who need to be prepared for all situations or do you live by “what you don’t have you don’t need”?
I’ll assume everybody will pack some clothes, and hope every one will consider the weather and their washing opportunities when doing so. Earlier, when I was backpacking for months, I used to pack so that I’d be good for about a week. Most campsites will have laundry facilities. Even though I on the ast trip didn’t want to have too much stuff, I rather have an extra warm sweater than a freezing night. Also, rain gear, after my last experience also an extra pair of shoes. And if you don’t drive through a town every now and then, food and drinks. If you are on a road trip food that takes a whole and doesn’t make a mess, carrot sticks are great. Oh, and if you are going camping, I assume it goes without saying that you will pack a tent/ tarp, sleeping mats/ madrasses and sleeping bags/ linen and doonas.
What proved to be heaps good:
- a pocket knife (Clas Ohlson sells basic ones for about 5e)
- jandals (flipflops) for the showers on campsites
- tinfoil, handy many times when often cooking on fire. Also good for entertainment.
- dish washing detergent
- plates and cutlery
- cutting board
- chilly bin and those freezing blocks what-ever-you-call-them-in-English
- sun screen
- towels, swimsuits
- zip lock bags
- rubbish bags
- mosquito repellent
- hat (sun, mossies)
- serving tongs/serving spoons/spatulas etc for actually preparing the food (Kate new it, we didn’t, so we went and bought some)
- toilet paper, paper towels
- baby wipes
- toys: we used a few games and books, a ball, a scooter and a balancing bike. As we didn’t really need more but we also went somewhere/ did something every day. But campsites have pretty good playgrounds and they have nature where kids can get inventive. Our kids are 4 and almost 3, in case you want to compare.
- Some story and music CD’s/Ipods/phones for the drive. We didn’t use many though as we mainly drove when it was nap time, and when kids sleep we rather listened to the radio or our music.
- Downloaded maps
One thing we forgot was the travel stroller. Turned out we didn’t need one either.
Kate also added camping chairs, fan, lanterns, water shoes, camping stove and a tray on the list, which I would consider if I’d be staying put and I wouldn’t be camping in Finland right after Midsummer (=no need for light and normally no need for extra heat. This year it would have been great with a camping stove!)
Backus Adventures travelled for months through Australia with their family and they have a gathered their tips for such a trip here. It is a good one, not just about packing but also about the attitude.
Please share your experiences and thoughts!