8 Space Saving Tips for Family Car Camping

Camping in general takes a lot of gear. Add kids and the amount of gear needed seems to quadruple. Here are a few tips for saving space when car camping as a family.
8 Space Saving Tips for Family Car Camping

1. Bring one method of cooking - There are so many methods to cook when camping: dutch oven, pie iron, camping grill or propane stove. Using just one method per trip can save a lot of space. Or better yet, just cook over the fire. There are many times we simplified our gear load by bringing cold cereal/yogurt for breakfast and made tin foil dinners or roasted hot dogs for dinner. There are a lot of creative recipes for cooking on sticks over fires.

2. Use a backpack carrier as a baby seat - We usually include hiking on our camping trips and therefor bring our backpack carrier. We used that as our baby seat instead of bringing additional equipment last summer. It worked really well for our daughter when we had work to do and for eating.
8 Space Saving Tips for Family Car Camping

3. Keep prepacked kits or bins organized - Bins are a easy and efficient way to organize and store camping gear, but it can mean you are bringing a lot of extra gear if they are not organized the cleaned out after every trip. Mommy Hiker has some awesome tips on stocking and organizing camp bins and for meals (see #4).

4. Pre-cut or pre-cook food and store in plastic storage bags - This eliminates the need for cutting boards and knifes, and plastic storage bags take up a lot less space than bowls. We wash and reuse the bags. Check out some of our favorite camp recipes using bags. They make it very easy and less messy to involve kids in cooking. This tip works best for short camping trips. Food would probably go bad if cut up before a week-long camping trip.

5. When gear needs to be replaced, buy compact versions - We changed out our propane lantern for the Black Diamond battery-powered lantern and we love it. There are so many amazing compact gear options. The PeaPod, Joovy Hook, eco-friendly iPhone speaker, Jetboil stove and new sleeping bags and mats are on our list of dream equipment. Ultralight backpacking gear also offers some excellent options for compact gear. You can find a few of our favorite pieces of gear at the bottom of this post.

6. Bring multipurpose gear - My favorite multipurpose gear is a bucket. They are extremely sturdy, relatively inexpensive, waterproof, and can be used as a seat, for washing, or for carrying water or firewood. Another is Tubtrugs. A Time For Seasons has a bunch of extremely creative ideas. Check them out.
8 Space Saving Tips for Family Car Camping

7. On long camping trips make time for runs to the store - I know it is hard to leave the wild and return to the city but food and coolers take up a lot of room. Packing 3 or 4 days worth of food can really save room and may allow you to only bring one cooler. We did this on our road trip last summer. It was a nice chance to stock up on fresh fruits and veggies. On our road trip we limited the number of items that needed to be refrigerated and only had to bring one small cooler.

8. Take advantage of laundry facilities - Clothes take up a lot of space. On our road trip last summer we brought 4 days worth of clothes. We made sure a head of time that some of the camping spots had laundry facilities and then just took a couple hours around dinner time to wash clothes. You could also go old school and wash your clothes in a bucket and allow them to hang dry.

Bonus: Buy wood when at or near your campsite. This saves space when traveling and helps stop the spread of invasive, tree-killing insects. Please don't transport firewood long distances. Help keep our forests healthy. 

If all else fails, you can always buy a trailer. What are ways you save space when car camping as a family? What are the camping luxuries you just can't live without?

Some of my favorite space saving gear! (aff link, Thank you for clicking through to purchase these products, a very, very small portion of the sales help support this blog)


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