Back to Basics Camping – Minimizing the Trip

How much can you fit into a Toyota Prius?

I’ve been remembering the summer trips to the west coast that I took with my family when I was a child. We would pack everything we needed into a Toyota Tercel. This included stuffing the interior of a canoe that we would hoist on top of the car. We were a family of four with a dog and I have no recollection of feeling like we had left something important behind. Every summer we would do the same trip so we (well, my Dad) were expert packers. But it wasn’t just clever packing, it was forcing our family to only bring the basics.

I am well aware that our family is nowhere near the hardcore minimalists (like the people who only own 100 items or less). In fact, I’m even a little leery about attaching the word ‘minimalist’ to this post out of fear that the real minimalists will find me and mock me. That said, I have been inspired to live with less. This weekend, our family went camping – two adults, two children (one still in diapers), and a dog. Just like when I was a kid, we fit everything into our Toyota Prius.
I will confess that we have often thought about ‘needing’ a bigger vehicle. Our thought process included looking ahead to events like camping trips. But we have held back; deciding that it would always be cheaper to borrow or rent a larger vehicle for the one-off times we needed something bigger. We also invested in a great roof rack for overhead storage – the cost was less than a single month’s car payment.

Amazingly, we have simply adapted to the small car out of necessity. And packing for camping wasn’t as difficult as we had anticipated.

For fun (and also because I’m a little anal retentive and have a list typed up anyway), here’s our packing list for three days and two nights of camping.

Sleeping
– Family-sized tent
– 4 sleeping bags
– 4 thermarest sleeping pads
– 2 pillows (for the girls)
– 2 pillow slips (for MJ and I to stuff with a sweater or fleece)
– 2 baby blankets (the ones that the Bear and Banana [say that they] couldn’t possibly sleep without)

Toys/Entertainment
– 2 stuffed animals (each girl could only bring one)
– Bocce ball set
– 10 kids books (five for each girl)
– 2 books (one for MJ and one for myself)
– Deck of UNO cards
– 2 Magnadoodles (in place of stray crayons and crushed colouring books)
– Bubbles and face paint
– Sand toys

Kitchen Items
– 1 plastic table cloth
– Camp stove and fuel
– 2 pots
– 1 kettle
– 4 plates
– 4 bowls
– 4 mugs
– 4 forks/spoons
– 4 knives (2 dinner knives, 1 paring knife, 1 knife with a serrated edge)
– 1 small spatula (high heat)
– Bottle opener
– Bodium
– Small tea pot
– Small cutting board
– Wash basin for the washing up
– Dish soap
– Dish cloth and towel
– 2 garbage bags
– Water container (the collapsible kind)
– Cooler with ice packs

Food (many items were taken out of their packaging to make it easy to pack. Eg: granola bars and instant oatmeal were taken out of the boxes they came in)
– Small boxes of cereal (special treat for camping)
– Packets of instant oatmeal
– Tea bags (regular and herbal)
– Coffee (ground)
– Hot chocolate powder
– Eggs
– Bacon
– Bread
– Croissants
– Cheese and meats (pre-sliced)
– Cucumber
– Tomato
– Oranges, blueberries, grapes (fruit that doesn’t need slicing!)
– Bag of noodles
– Tupperware container of pasta sauce (pre-made and frozen in advance)
– Condiments (packed into smaller containers)
– Olive oil (packed into a smaller container)
– Milk (with screw top lid)
– 2 bags of chips
– 2 bars of [good] chocolate
– A bag of roasted nuts
– A bag of marshmallows
– Granola bars
– Mini bottles of alcohol (That’s right, our campsite is going to have a mini bar!)
– 2 bottles of wine
– Dog food

Clothing
– 1 pair of pants for each adult
– 2 pairs of pants for each child
– 2 shirts each (long sleeve and short sleeve)
– 1 pair of shorts/capris for each person
– 1 warm jacket or hoodie per person
– 1 pair of walking shoes/boots per person
– 1 pair of sandals/flip-flops per person
– 1 pair of water shoes per person
– Underwear
– Warm socks
– PJs for each of us
– Swimsuit per person
– 1 hat per person
– We didn’t pack rain gear. We decided that if it gets wet, we’d just go home.

Toiletries
– 1 bar of soap to share
– Toothbrushes and toothpaste
– 1 comb to share
– Deodorant
– Face cream (my luxury item!)
– Bug spray
– Sun screen
– Small package of first aid items (Band-Aids, Polysporin, etc.)
– Diapers (we used disposable diapers for the weekend even though we usually cloth diaper)
– Wet wipes
– We didn’t pack shampoo or other shower stuff (eg: razors) as we were just going to tough it out for the weekend

Other
– Lighter
– Hatchet
– Flashlights
– Lantern
– Camp chairs (probably unnecessary but we could fit them in)
– 4 towels
– Rope
– 1 dog bed
– 1 dog leash
– Camera

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