Packing List for Yellowstone National Park–FREE Printable! (22 Essential Items)

You’re headed to one of the most iconic national parks in the world, but you’re not sure what to put on your Yellowstone packing list.  Don’t worry!  We’ve got you covered!

Visiting Yellowstone National Park was one of the most memorable road trips our family has taken (you can find our detailed 3-day itinerary on our blog).  We try to be minimalist packers, but we also like to make sure we have all the important things.

I have a love for beautiful, useful things, so I created a FREE, printable pdf of our Yellowstone Packing List for you!

Here’s what’s on our packing list for Yellowstone:

Bear Spray

Bears were my number one concern when we started planning our trip to Yellowstone.  We’re from California and bears are a normal part of mountain exploration…but not grizzly bears. 

Black bears in California will break into your car, crack open your ice chest, tear open your backpack, and eat all your food.  But, generally, they leave humans alone.  

Grizzly bears in Yellowstone generally leave people alone, too, but if they are surprised on a trail, they may attack.  So, you want to be prepared.  

While sounds scary, there’s good news:  we saw a grizzly bear, and we’re still here to talk about it.  The best news is that it was far enough away we didn’t need bear spray.

It isn’t necessary to carry bear spray on highly trafficked trails, but you will want it if you plan to hike in less-trafficked areas.  

Rent or Buy Bear Spray

Bear spray can be purchased throughout the park at gift shops and stores, or outside the park at sporting goods stores (think Walmart or REI).  You can also order it on Amazon, just make sure it’s an EPA approved bottle like this one.  If you want to save a few dollars, you can rent bear spray at Yellowstone Canyon Village.

Mosquito and Bug Repellent

If you’re visiting Yellowstone during the summer, you may encounter mosquitos.  The good news is, they typically only hang out around dawn and dusk.  The bad news is, there are A LOT of them.

My son and I tend to be mosquito magnetics (apparently we metabolize cholesterol quickly, creating a tasty smell on our skin that attracts mosquitos).

We use this natural repellent and opted to wear long-sleeved shirts and pants first thing in the morning and evening to help deter the crazy critters.

Also, eating around the campfire helps, too!

Poncho or Rain Jacket

Afternoon thunderstorms can occur, so pack your favorite rain jacket or poncho.  I prefer ponchos because they are nice and small, taking up less room in my suitcase.  They’re easy to throw over a t-shirt, sweatshirt, or jacket, depending on the temperature.

Long Sleeves and Pants (even in summer)

The elevation of Yellowstone varies several thousand feet throughout the park, averaging around 8,000 feet above sea level.  Even if it’s warm during the day, the evenings can get cool (plus, don’t forget about mosquitos).  Do yourself a favor and pack some jeans and long-sleeved shirts even during the summer.

Sweatshirt and/or Jacket

Layers are the name of the game when it comes to packing for Yellowstone.  Tanks, short sleeves, long sleeves, sweatshirts, and a jacket are all things you’ll want to put in your bag!


Your iPhone is great for many shots, but if you’re hoping to get some close-up shots of wildlife, you’ll want a camera with a telephoto lens.  Park officials advise that guests stay 100 yards away from wolves and bears, and 25 yards away from elk, deer, bison, and other large animals.


We brought and borrowed a few pairs of binoculars for the whole family to share, but we often wished we had a pair of binoculars for each person.  We spent quite a bit of time looking at wildlife–it was something that was a highlight of the trip for our kids (and us)!

Swimsuit/Bathing Suit

When I think Yellowstone, swimming isn’t usually the first activity that pops into my mind.  Swimming in hot springs is forbidden (dangerously hot!).  However, there are a couple of places that are recognized as safe swim areas.  Water from the hot springs mixes with the cold water of the river, making for perfect swimming temperatures.

These two areas are called the Boiling River (near Mammoth) and Firehole (near Madison Junction).  Check the National Parks website to confirm operating hours for swimming/soaking as well as updates and current conditions.


While sunny and bright conditions aren’t guaranteed, it’s nice to have something to block the glare on those summer days (or any time of the year).  Plus, did you know that you can get skin cancer in your eye?  Yep.  That’s why I don’t go anywhere without my sunglasses…plus, I have unusually large pupils, making it hard to see on bright days.


Throw in your favorite hat to shield you from the afternoon sun.  I’m a baseball cap, trucker cap gal, but I probably should be a wide-brimmed hat type.  I do have long hair, though, that typically covers my neck and ears.  


We try to keep a bottle in our vehicle and a small travel-size bottle in our backpack.  We didn’t notice the sun being particularly intense during our stay (you are pretty far north), but it’s always a good idea to protect your skin.

Refillable Water Bottle

Conserve space and reduce waste by bringing your refillable water bottle!  There are water refilling stations throughout the park.

External Charger

There are two places I like to take my external charger: Disney and on the trail.  Service is spotty and non-existent throughout much of the park (yay for unplugging!), but if you’re taking a lot of video or pictures, you may need to recharge your battery.  

First Aid Kit

Fortunately, we didn’t need this on our last trip, but you never know!  We keep one in the back of our vehicle…just in case!

Anti-Itch Cream

If you’re unlucky, like me, you’ll want something to help with the itching, post-mosquito-fest.  Some people like cream or lotion.  I’m a bit more natural (avoid chemicals as much as possible), so I like to bring along some activated charcoal or clay.  Just mix it with a little water and spread it over the bites.  It will bind to the toxins and help reduce the itch!


Because cell service is so spotty, you’ll want to have an old-school back-up plan.  When you check-into the park, you should receive a park map.  Otherwise, you can download a pdf before you enter the park.

Mailing Addresses

What?  Why do you need mailing addresses?  We love dropping a postcard in the mail to friends and family while we’re on a road trip.  It’s always helpful to save these to your phone before your trip for easy access!  


Even if you don’t plan to do any crazy hikes, it’s always nice to have a backpack or daypack for hauling around your essentials.  Throw in your wallet (yes, there’s ice cream in Yellowstone!), ponchos, water bottles, sunscreen, maps, phone charger, and snacks!

Hiking Boots

Hiking boots may not be your thing, but at the very least, you’ll want to bring some comfortable walking shoes.  Between exploring hot springs, boiling mud pots, waterfalls, and valleys, you can do a fair amount of walking over the course of a day.  Be comfortable!

Cash for Showers

We opted to stay at Canyon Campground because we’re tent campers and Cayon Campground has luxurious, hot showers.  Well, they’re not actually luxurious, but they sure seem fancy-pancy when you’re spending every living moment outdoors.

Showers aren’t your typical coin-operated type.  Instead, there’s a shower attendant that you give a few bucks to in exchange for unlimited hot water.  It’s all kinds of lovely.


If you plan to jump in the river (at the designated areas) or take a shower, you’ll want a towel.  They had some small towels at the shower facilities (that had to stay in the facility), but we prefer to take our own.

Flashlight or Headlamp

There are no street lights in the great outdoors.  You’ll want a flashlight or headlamp if you plan to do any walking (even if it’s to the restroom) at night.  Headlamps are also handy for setting up camp after dark, keeping your hands free so you can put together your camp faster!

Get a FREE Printable Packing List for Yellowstone

To make your life easier (I’m all about saving time and money), I’ve created a FREE Yellowstone packing list for you to download!

Use it in combination with your general packing list and my camping basics list and you’ll be ready to go!

Have any questions about packing for Yellowstone?  Drop them below!

What Should I Bring to Disney? (15 Things You Should Pack in Your Backback)

If you’re headed to Disneyland in California or Walt Disney World in Florida, you’re probably asking, “What things should I bring to Disney?”

I’ve been to both Disneyland and Disney World, and I always pack these 15 items in my backpack.

Backpacks may not be uber fashionable, but they’re very functional. I opt to take a small one with me whenever I visit an amusement park.

There are two main reasons I opt for a backpack on every trip:

  • It saves time (no trips to a locker or vehicle)
  • It saves money (snacks, water, rain ponchos…they all add up, and these items are EXTRA expensive in the park!)

Use this checklist to pack a perfect backpack on every trip to Disney!

1. Cell Phone

Your cell phone is one of the most important things to bring to Disney. I like keeping my phone in my backpack as much as possible.

I use my phone too frequently to keep it in the backpack all of the time, but it’s a great place to store it during rides or when you’re not using it.

Random Story: Once, after riding Matterhorn, I realized I no longer had my phone. I had it in my back pocket during the ride and didn’t realize it had fallen out during the ride (those bobsleds are crazy bumpy!).

I stood there while the cast members checked each bobsled that came in, and I got lucky. There it was, lying on the floor of one of the bobsleds!

Before You Visit Disney Download the App on Your Phone

Each park has its own app!  These apps are absolutely essential when visiting the park.  You can use it to purchase tickets, get FastPasses, order food, check wait times, find restrooms, locate characters, and so much more.

For Disney World, download My Disney Experience, and for Disneyland, download the Disneyland app from the Apple or Google store.

2. External Phone Charger

Even if you have a great battery, after a long, 12+ hour day at Disney, you might need a recharge. My phone is older than dirt, so it usually needs a pick-me-up by late afternoon or evening.  

While they have external chargers that you can rent in the park, I like having my own (it saves time and money–are you noticing a pattern?), so I use a charger that I got on Amazon. 

3. Credit Cards/Cash/Wallet

Thanks to the ingenuity of the Disney app creators, you can link your Disney gift card, credit card, rewards card, or debit card in the app to pay for any in-app purchases like food, drinks, tickets, MaxPass, or Memory Maker.

However, I usually throw in one card, or some cash, just in case!

4. Identification (Driver’s License)

You’ll need your ID to get into the park or to purchase any alcoholic beverages.

One time, when we were waiting to get into Disneyland Park, Allan realized he had forgotten his ID. Or maybe I forgot mine. I conveniently don’t remember which one of us was the guilty party.

He had to run all the way back to the hotel to grab the ID. Ooops. It was a little over a mile roundtrip. I think he felt like he was in middle school P.E. all over again, although I don’t think he was able to muster up a 6-minute mile. Such an invigorating way to start the day.

5. Snacks

It’s always nice to have a little something in your backpack, just in case. If you have young kids, extra (cheap) food is one of the most important things to bring to Disney.

Keep those blood sugar levels stable and keep everyone happy. Nobody wants to have a hanger melt-down at “The Happiest Place on Earth”.

6. Refillable Water Bottle

Disney is wonderful about letting guests bring in outside food and drinks, provided it meets their requirements. Refillable water bottles are great for your wallet and our planet!  

There are refilling stations located throughout the parks or you can get a free cup of water from any quick-service restaurant!

7. Rain Poncho

I always like taking a rain poncho to Disney. In California, we don’t really need to for the rain (it’s more sunny than rainy), but it’s certainly handy if you’re expecting some afternoon thunderstorms in Florida at Disney World.

The main reason I pack a rain poncho in California is for the water-based rides. If it’s not a blazing hot day, it’s not terribly fun to walk around in dripping wet clothes that don’t dry. It’s nice to have for Splash Mountain, Grizzly River Run, or Kali River Rapids.

You can grab one for $1 at the dollar store or get them in bulk online.

8. Flip Flops or extra Socks

I also like wearing flip-flops on water-based rides. Walking around with wet socks and shoes is a good way to get blisters. When you’re walking 8+ miles per day, you want your feet to be happy.

For that reason, I like to have a pair of flip-flops in my backpack or a dry pair of socks.

9. Zipped Plastic Bag for Wet Items

If you have a wet poncho or socks, you can place them in a zipped plastic bag so that everything else stays dry!

10. Sunglasses

If it’s dark when you head to the park, be sure to pack your sunglasses in your backpack! Did you know that you can get melanoma in your eyes? It’s also nice to not be squinting all day long.

11. Sweatshirt

You’ll especially want a sweatshirt if you’re headed to Disneyland. Even when daytime temps are high, it almost always cools off at night. It’s not uncommon to have a 40-50 degree change between day and night.  Add it to your list of things to bring to Disney!

12. Sunscreen

Pavement can reflect sun rays and increase the chance of sunburn. I like carrying a small bottle or stick of sunscreen in my backpack to use in the parks.

13. Wipes/Hand Sanitizer

Honestly, I never carry either of these items. The alcohol in the hand sanitizer and wipes makes my skin go crazy. If I’m desperate, I’d rather use a little water from my water bottle, but mostly I use the sinks in the restroom.

But, I would guess that most people would want this in their backpack, so I’m adding it to the list.

14. Chapstick

I truly have nothing to say about this one other than it’s always a good idea to keep some chapstick nearby.

15. Extra Mask

A year ago, this wouldn’t be in my backpack, but things have changed. Having an extra in your backpack just in case one falls on the ground–or (heaven forbid) in the toilet–is a wise choice.


There may be a few other items you may want to bring to Disney in your backpack (like make-up, medications, trading pins, or autograph books), but this list will get you started!

Being prepared gives you more time to do what’s important—rides, attractions, and snacking!  If you want to learn more about Disney tips and tricks, check out 11 Hacks To Help You Save Money on Food at Disney or How Many Rides Can You ride in One Day at Disneyland? (more than 18 if you follow these tips)

Do you typically take a backpack to the parks? Is there anything in your backpack that’s not in mine? Tell me about it in the comments section!

Camping Menu: The Ultimate Food Planning Guide

If you need help with planning a camping menu, you’re in the right place!  One of the biggest tenting camping challenges is deciding what to eat and how to store it. Creating systems and planning helps make your tent camping experience more enjoyable!

I’ve been tent camping since I was just a few weeks old and many of these tips are lessons I learned early on from helping my mother pack for our camping trips as a child.  Additionally, I’ve learned from my own mistakes as an adult (always fail forward!).

Invest in a Quality Ice Chest/Cooler

One of the first things beginning tent campers will want to invest in is a couple of quality ice chests or coolers.  Of course, you’ll want to find a cooler that fits your budget.  If a Yeti doesn’t fit into your budget, no worries (it doesn’t fit into mine).  Fortunately, there are plenty of great choices out there.

We use the Coleman Xtreme.  It’s affordable and it keeps things cold for 3-5 days.

You’ll want one cooler for food and one for drinks.

Use Plastic Totes to Organize Food, Kitchen Utinsels/Dishes, and Toiletries

For a 3 to a 5-day camping trip, I typically have one large plastic tote full of dry food.  Having all the dry food in one place (rather than bags or open boxes) makes my life easier both for packing the vehicle and while at the campsite.

Plastic Totes Keep Small Critters Out of Your Food

First, a latching tote makes the food inaccessible to mice, rats, skunks, raccoons, birds, etc.  These critters can be persistent when it comes to food, especially when you’re sound asleep, so the plastic tote is an excellent deterrent.  It will keep your food safe, and it will keep the critters from eating things not suited to their diet.

One time, as a child, I remember camping with friends. They left a brown paper bag of food on their picnic table.  Unfortunately, a cunning crow spied a bag of hamburger buns.  He (or she–I’m not very good at identifying the sex of a crow mid-flight) swooped down and began aerating the package with his beak.  Needless to say, the burgers went bun-less at dinner that night. 


Plastic Totes Makes it Easier to Store Camping Food

Secondly, depending on where you’re camping, you may need to store all food and toiletries in a bear box.  A bear box is a large metal box that has a special latch, making its contents (your food) inaccessible to bears.  It’s easier to store food, move it around, and keep it from getting crushed when you keep it in a tote.

TIP: Use a small, latching plastic shoebox tote for as a s’mores kit.  It makes it easy to grab all the ingredients in the dark!

Planning Food for Your Camping Menu

Planning your camping menu can be overwhelming for beginning campers.  Some people like to cook one-dish meals, while others want food that they can cook over the fire.

Clearly, you should choose meals that bring you joy.  If fast and easy brings your joy, do fast and easy.  However, if a delectable, ornate spread brings you joy, then create a delectable, ornate spread.  After all, you’re on vacation.  You should enjoy it!

I love both, but I don’t like to do meal prep while I’m camping.  I do as much meal prep as I can ahead of time.  For our first meal, I typically stick with “fast and easy”.  On the remaining nights, I like food that is grilled over the fire and well-balanced.


Write it All Down

Sit down with a pen and paper and write down your camping menu for every meal.  First, I choose an entrée for each meal.

First, Choose Your Entrees (EXAMPLE MENU)

Dinner 1: Sausage Link Tortilla Wraps

Breakfast 1: French Toast

Lunch 1: Chicken Caesar Salad 

Dinner 2: Hamburgers

Breakfast 2: Country Breakfast Scramble

Lunch 2: Nut Butter & Jelly Sandwiches

Dinner 3: Teriyaki Grilled Chicken

Breakfast 3: Pancakes

Next, Add Your Sides (EXAMPLE MENU)

I select and write down sides for each meal, making sure to incorporate veggies and fruits.

Dinner 1: Sausage link tortilla wraps, raw veggies, and grapes

Breakfast 1: French toast, bacon, and strawberries

Lunch 1: Chicken Caesar salad, watermelon

Dinner 2: Hamburgers, potato salad, grapes

Breakfast 2: Country breakfast scramble and blueberries

Lunch 2: Nut butter & jelly sandwiches, chips, raw veggies, apples

Dinner 3: Teriyaki grilled chicken, pineapple, veggie medley

Breakfast 3: Pancakes, breakfast sausage links, mixed berries (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries)

Finally, Write Down Every Ingredient 

This list will become your camping menu packing list.  Look at each meal, again, and write down EVERY SINGLE ingredient you will need for that meal.  After it’s written down, separate it into two categories: dry food and cold food.

Because it makes my life easier, I created a Google spreadsheet with menu plans and packing lists.  Whenever we’re planning a camping trip, I cut and paste the items I’ll need, so I don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time.


Camping Menu Grocery & Packing List (1st Day)

Dinner 1

-Sausage links (cold–freeze)

-Tortillas (dry)

-Mustard (cold)

-Cucumbers (cold)

-Carrots (cold)

-Celery (cold)

-Grapes (cold)


Breakfast 1

-Bread (dry)

-Milk (cold)

-Eggs (cold)

-Cinnamon (dry)

-Syrup (dry/cold)

-Bacon (cold)

-Butter (cold)

-Strawberries (cold)


Lunch 1

-Torn Romaine lettuce (cold)

-Caesar dressing (cold)

-Grilled, cubed chicken (cold–freeze)

-Croutons (dry)

-Olives (dry)

-Parmesan cheese (cold)

-Watermelon (cold)

Camping Menu Grocery & Packing List (2nd Day) 

Dinner 2

-Beef patties (cold–freeze)

-Buns (dry)

-Garlic powder (dry)

-Salt (dry)

-Pepper (dry)

-Sliced cheese (cold)

-Grilled onions (cold)

-Pickles (cold)

-Lettuce (cold)

-Tomato (cold/dry)

-Mayo (cold–if open)

-Ketchup (cold–if open)

-BBQ sauce (cold–if open)

-Potato salad (cold)

-Grapes (cold)


Breakfast 2

-Baked potatoes (cold)

-Breakfast sausage (cold–freeze)

-Onion, chopped and sautéed (cold)

-Peppers, chopped and sautéed (cold)

-Cheese, grated (cold)

-Eggs (cold)

-Salt (dry)

-Olive oil (dry)

-Blueberries (cold)


Lunch 2

-Sandwich bread (dry)

-Nut butter (dry)

-Jam (cold)

-Chips (dry)

-Cucumbers (cold)

-Carrots (cold)

-Celery (cold)

-Apples (cold)


Camping Menu Grocery & Packing List (3rd Day)

Dinner 3

-Chicken breasts (cold–freeze)

-Teriyaki marinade (cold–marinade chicken before freezing)

-Pineapple (cold)

-Vegetable medley (olive oil, squash, zucchini, onion, bell pepper, mushrooms, and garlic) (cold)


Breakfast 3

-Pancake batter (dry)

-Breakfast sausage links (cold–freeze)

-Mixed berries (cold)

-Syrup (cold/dry)

-Butter (cold)

Usually, we have to pack up before lunch in order to be out of the campground by the checkout time, so we usually opt to eat a snacking lunch on the final day (crackers, cheese, fruits, veggies, etc.) or eat out on our way home.

Having all these details (it seems like a lot) helps create your grocery list and makes food packing SO MUCH easier!

In addition to your main menu, don’t forget to create a beverage and snack list! 

Prep as Much Food as Possible

I like to prepare everything that I can for my camping menu ahead of time.  This allows me to enjoy my time camping, hiking, swimming, and exploring rather than cooking and cleaning up. 

I go meal by meal and prep whatever I can.  For example, a day or two before we leave, I’ll cut up all my veggies, bake my potatoes for home fries, shape my beef patties, cook the breakfast sausage, make potato salad, mix up the marinade, slice cheese, grate cheese, etc.

Freeze as Much Food as Possible

To help keep your food cold and prevent premature thawing, I like to freeze any foods that can be frozen.  Typically, it’s my proteins…things like beef patties, sausages, cooked breakfast sausage, etc.

TIP: Instead of using block ice, freeze 1-gallon plastic milk jugs or water jugs.  Block ice will fill your ice chest with water as it melts, while jugs keep the water contained.

Only Pack What You Need

Save space by only packing what you need.  For example, if we’re only having pickles with hamburgers, I’ll only pack enough pickle slices for our burgers.  If I only need ½ c. of mayo, I’ll pack it in a small mason jar rather than take a 32oz tub.

Not only does this save space, it saves time on clean-up when you’re unpacking.  Additionally, it eliminates the possibility of having to toss an entire jar if the contents go bad.

TIP: Place all items should be in sealed, waterproof containers.  Zipped bags, latching containers, and mason/canning jars are all good choices.

Group items by meal

Digging through your ice chest to find the items you need for a meal can be a pain.  As much as possible, I like to group camping menu items together. 

For example, I’ll place the hamburger toppings in individual bags inside of a larger zipped bag that contains everything I need for that meal.

Easy peasy!

The Hard Work is Done!

Food prep is the most time-consuming portion of getting ready to go camping.  But, once you develop a system and have some tried-and-true camping meals that you use, it becomes easier and faster.

Need help packing?  Check out The Beginner’s Guide to Tent Camping: 102 Things to Pack!  

Do you have any questions about planning your camping menu for your next trip?  I love to hear from my readers!  Leave them below in the comments section.

A Beginner’s Guide to Tent Camping: 102 Things to Pack

If you’ve tent camping for the first time, getting started may feel overwhelming.  I created A Beginner’s Guide to Tent Camping to help take away that stress!

I took my first camping trip as a baby and have been camping for over 40 years!  And now you know how old I am.  You could say that I’m a seasoned camper.  Though, that sounds even worse than “old”.  I’m getting images of dry, leathery skin, sprinkled with sunspots, a camper who’s tougher than nails, and has a dirt smear on her cheekbone.  Hmmm…

I actually enjoy tent camping.  There’s something about breathing in the cool night air, being lulled to sleep by the crash of waves or a gurgling stream, and being woken by the happy chatter of birds and the rising sun.

The Secret to a Stress Free Camping Trip

I guess I can’t actually guarantee “stress-free”, but I can certainly help you “stress less”.  And here’s the secret: have an amazing packing list.

I use the same packing list every time we go camping.  It saves me time since I don’t have to recreate it for every trip.  The only thing that changes are items that are destination-dependent.  

For example, if we go to the beach, we may take some items like bodyboards and wetsuits that we wouldn’t take if we were going to a mountain lake.

I involve the kids in the packing process.  It helps increase responsibility and gives them a vested interest in the trip.  It may take longer at first, but before you know it, they’ll be self-sufficient and be more helpful getting everything ready to go!

Camping Basics Packing List

1. Tent

We have a large two-room tent.  It’s an “instant tent” making it fast and easy to set-up and take down.  The girls usually stay with us and Brandon pitches his own small tent.  

If you’re looking for a tent, read the reviews.  Tents notoriously sleep fewer people than they say they do.  For example, a four-person tent comfortably sleeps two people.  You CAN squeeze four in, but you’ll be climbing/tripping over each other and breathing in each other’s faces.  

2. Tarp

We actually never take one, unless we’re going somewhere where rain is a possibility.  If you do have a chance of getting caught in the rain, you will want one to cover your tent.

3. Sleeping Mats

We use these camping pads that I bought on Amazon.  They’re small, compact (the size of a water bottle!), and easy to inflate. 

If you’re looking for something luxurious, you’ll want to look elsewhere, but these work for us!  You can always buy one ahead and time and see how you like it before purchasing them for the entire family.

4. Sleeping Bags, Blankets, and Bedding

We’re a sleeping bag family, mostly because it takes up less space.  Sometimes I’ll bring a large blanket if we’re going somewhere with cool nighttime temperatures.


5. Camp/Beach Chairs

Our favorite chairs are our beach chairs.  They sit low to the ground, but they’re durable, can be carried like a backpack, have cup holders, and snack pockets on the back.  They might be a little low to the ground around the campfire, but it makes it convenient for marshmallow roasting!

6. Folding Table

Most developed campsites have a picnic table and a fire pit.  However, if you are boondocking (camping where there is no campground), you’ll probably want a sturdy folding table like this one.

7. Air Pump

If you opt to sleep on an air mattress, you’ll need an air pump.  Blowing up air mattresses without a pump is exhausting, and being exhausted is never relaxing.  One thing to note about air mattresses is that the air in the mattress is typically the same as the air you’re breathing in.  So, if it gets down to 40 degrees at night, you may feel like you’re sleeping on an ice block.  With our small camping pads that are only an inch thick, it’s not a problem, but it definitely can be uncomfortable with larger air mattresses.

8. Suitcases/Duffel Bags (scroll down for detailed personal packing list)

We use affordable duffel/sport bags for our luggage.  They fit on airplanes as carry-ons, and they’re usually sufficient size for all our trips.  However, we are minimalist packers.

9. Broom

You’ll definitely want a small broom to thoroughly sweep the campsite when you arrive.  I’m joking, of course. 🙂  A hand broom is useful for sweeping out the tent before you pack it back up.

Camping Kitchen Packing List

10. Aluminum Foil

This is handy to have, especially if you’re cooking over the campfire or trying to keep food warm.

11. Camp Stove

If you get a good Coleman camping stove, it will last you forever (almost). We’ve had our for 17 years and expect to get another 30 years out of it.

12. Propane Canisters

You’ll need propane canisters for the camping stove and possibly a lantern if it’s propane.  We typically don’t go through a whole can when cooking for 3-4 days, but I always pack an extra.

13. Can Opener

You may not always need this, but it’s a pain in the neck to open a can without one.  I always leave one in my camping kitchen tote that I picked up second-hand so I don’t forget to pack it.

14. Dish Cloth, Towels, and Hot Pad

Keep it minimal.  One or two of each is good enough for camping.  

15. Dish Soap

Typically, the dollar store has smaller-sized dish soap bottles.  You can also fill a travel-sized shampoo bottle with your favorite environmentally friendly dish soap.

16. Ice Chest(s)/Cooler(s)

Investing in a quality cooler or two is a good idea.  It doesn’t have to be a Yeti if that’s out of your budget. 

We have an Xtreme Coleman cooler and it works well for our frequent 3-day camping trips.  We use one to store food and one for beverages.

HINT: Freeze one-gallon plastic jugs of drinking water (I empty a little out of each first, so there’s extra space for the ice to expand).  Use the frozen jugs instead of block ice in your ice chest!  It keeps everything cold, doesn’t make a mess when it melts, and you can use it for drinking water when it melts.

17. Serrated Knife

It’s easiest to cut bread, meat, and tomatoes with a serrated knife.

18. Paring Knife

You can use your pocket knife, but I personally like to bring one from my kitchen for cutting veggies and fruits.

19. Lighter

Using a long lighter for the camp stove is easier than matches, in my opinion.  I also keep this item in my “kitchen tote” year-round.

20. Napkins/Paper Towels

I bring 3-4 per person, per day.  Don’t worry, I don’t actually count them.  I use my best guess. I don’t like taking up extra space (all the stuff adds up), but I also don’t like running out. 

21. Plates

I also keep these in my kitchen tote!

22. Flatware

Eating with your hands is more acceptable when you’re camping, but if you want to retain some of your manners, you’ll want some flatware for meals.

23. Hot Cups/Mugs

Bring something that can hold cider, hot cocoa, tea, or coffee.

24. Cold Cups

We don’t often use these cups, but it’s nice to have a few.  Sometimes I will even use a cup to beat eggs for breakfast or other food prep.

25. Pot/Pan with Lid

I usually only take one pot.  Less if more when you’re camping!  I also use the pot to heat water to wash dishes.  If you plan to use a dutch oven, don’t forget to pack it!

26. Skillet

Keep a “camping skillet” in your kitchen tote year-round.

27. Spatula/Turner

Pancakes and eggs are frequently part of our camping menu, so a spatula is a must!

28. Ladle

A ladle is handy to have if you’re serving soup or beans.

29. Serving Spoon

If you want to be a minimalist, you can skip this one, I just find it a little tricky to use a small spoon for serving food.

30. Zipped Bags

Zipped plastic bags are great for storing any leftovers you may have.


31. Picnic Tablecloth

Here’s the truth: campsite tables are prone to bird droppings.  A tablecloth will freshen things up.  Sometimes I use one and sometimes I don’t. 

32. Dry Food

Storing your dry food (granola bars, bread, crackers, jerky, nuts, etc.) in a tote, helps keep things organized and protects them from getting squished.  It’s also very handy if you have to use a bear box (a large metal box provided at the campsite that is used to store all food/beverage items, making them inaccessible to bears).

33. Water

Some campgrounds provide potable water, others do not. You may need water for drinking, doing dishes, hand washing, and cooking.  Check your campground website for details.

Fire Pit & Grilling Packing List

34. Wood/Briquettes

Most campgrounds sell campfire wood, for a hefty price.  Save a little money by bringing your own firewood if it’s permitted.  In some places, you may not be able to bring your own wood due to concerns about spreading pests.  Check your campground website before you go.  As an alternative for cooking, we sometimes use charcoal briquettes.

35. Lighter Fluid

While you can start a campfire without lighter fluid, using it certainly makes it easier!

36. Matches

While a lighter is more convenient for a camp stove, I think matches are safer for lighting campfires, especially if you’ve doused them in lighter fluid.

37. Roasting Sticks

We love the heavy-duty roasting sticks that we got from Walmart years ago.  They’re affordable, sturdy, and long…everything you want to a roasting stick.

38. Shovel/Spade

In most western states, where wildfires pose a hazard, you’re required to “drown, stir, and feel” your campfire.

First, you drown it with water.  Then you stir it with a shovel (and drown it more if necessary).  Only when you’re sure you’ve cooled it properly, you feel above the coals to ensure they’re cold.

39. Bucket and/or Washing Basin

A bucket is useful for hauling potable water to camp and keeping water by the fire for safety. 

40. Grilling Tools (turner, grill cleaner, fork)

It’s hard to grill food with plastic forks, thus, the grilling tools.


41. Bug Spray

You can almost guarantee there will be some bugs wherever you camp unless it’s at the beach.

42. Camera

iPhones are wonderful, but if you want fancy pictures, pack your DSLR.

43. Lantern

It can get a little dark when you’re camping, so we like having a lantern that we can have on the picnic table to provide a little light.

44. Rope

Having some extra rope is handy in case you need to tie down a tarp or string it between a couple of trees to hang wet towels and swimsuits.

45. Trash Bags

One per day is usually sufficient.  It’s nice to collect trash at the campsite, then place it in the dumpster at night.

46. Sunscreen

Protect your skin with your favorite, non-toxic sunscreen.

Personal Packing List

I like to print out a personal packing list for each person in the family.  No matter how many times you’ve packed, it’s easier to remember everything if you have a list staring you in the face.  


Next to this list, I put quantities for each item, so the kids know how many pairs of shorts, socks, shirts, etc. to pack.  

Packing clothing goes SO MUCH FASTER if all the laundry is done and put away.  In fact, you should be able to pack all personal items in less than 30 minutes if they’re all clean and in their proper place!  I try to have all laundry washed/folded/hung up two days before our trip departure date.

47. Bathing Suit/Shorts

48. Bottoms (pants/shorts/skirts)

49. Hats/Caps

50. Outerwear (jackets, sweatshirts, rain ponchos)

51. Pajamas

52. Flip Flops

53. Active Shoes

54. Socks

55. Tops

56. Undergarments

57. Cover-up



Packing your toiletries in a bag or shoebox tote is helpful when camping.  I like using a shoebox tote, especially since many of the campgrounds we visit are have bears, so it’s easier to throw a tote in the bear box than a toiletry bag (that can rip or get dirty).  Also, having it in a tote helps with clean-up in the event that something leaks from elevation change.

58. Conditioner

59. Contact Solution, Case & Extra Contacts/Glasses

60. Deodorant

61. Dental Floss/Flossers

62. Lotion

63. Tweezers/Nail Clippers

64. Make-Up (if you wear make-up camping–I don’t)

65. Shampoo

66. Soap

67. Toothbrush 

68. Toothpaste

69. Hairbrush

70. Hair Ties and Bands




71. Meds

72. Pillow

73. Personal Blanket (the kids like taking theirs)

74. Sunglasses

75. Phone

76. Phone Charger

77. Dirty Clothes Bag

78. Towel

79. Washcloth

80. Flashlight

81. Backpack/Daypack

Backpacks are helpful for day hikes and taking fresh clothes and a towel to the shower.

82. Reusable Water Bottle

83. Purse/Wallet (with quarters for pay showers)

Destination Based Items

The following items will change depending on your camping destination.  I keep a running list of all the things we typically take and just cross off the ones we won’t need.

84. Wetsuit

85. Kayaks

86. Boogie/Bodyboards

87. Surf Boards

88. Sports Equipment (spike ball, volleyball, frisbee, ladder ball, etc.)

89. Life Vests/Jackets

90. Fishing Pole

91. Fishing License

92. Tackle Box

93. Hiking Boots

94. Binoculars

95. External Charger

96. Bikes, Skooters & Helmets

97. Bike Pump

98. Beach Umbrella/Shade Tent

99. Other Water Toys

100. Hatchet (for cutting firewood, if permitted)

101. Books/DVDs/Activity Pages

If you have a bit of a drive, car games like road trip BINGO, Tic Tac Toe, the License Plate Game, and I Spy, will keep kids entertained.  Check out my Road Trip Activity Binder with 43 car games for your next adventure!


102. Games (cards, dice, dominos, etc.)


Having a good packing list is the best way to start your first (and 100th) camping trip off right!  It will save you headaches and additional purchases at the camp store, which are notoriously over-priced.

Pack well, and most of all, have fun!