I love road trips, either by myself listening to Harry Potter on Audible or with whatever friends I can convince to join me. My favorite ones are when I get to spend more than just one night in a tent and relax for more than just a few days. Spring break is that time of year for me. I get around 10 days to climb, camp, and hang out with the select few humans that managed to join me on the adventure. Unfortunately, with the freedom of driving to far away places comes the stress of packing and making sure my car is habitable for however long the trip is. This year I’m going to Indian Creek, Utah, to enjoy some serious crack climbing and hopefully soak up some desert sun which means way more preparation than simply vacuuming out my car and dragging down a trash bag to get rid of the miscellany.
Between school and work, planning for these trips turns me into a crazy person- jumping from excited to on the verge of tears from being overwhelmed by my seemingly never-ending to-do lists. With only a few days left to tackle everything, I’ve managed to narrow down what all I need to have done so here is my advice on how to manage living out of your car for ten days.
Take your car to a mechanic.
Granted we should all be doing this regularly but I know that I am, at least, terrible at it. I always wait till the little wrench light comes on before I even consider taking Edna to the mechanic. That being said, with a 24-hour drive ahead of me, I’m really glad I forced myself to take her up to the Honda dealership. Honda offers a complimentary multipoint inspection and if you’re planning on taking your car on a long trip, I would suggest telling the person helping you so they can offer you the best advice for what needs to be done on your car. I ended up needing to do a few routine things, one of which involved my brakes, and I’m so glad I did, the last thing I would want is to break down in Oklahoma on my way to or from the Creek.
Clean your car, for the love of anything, just clean your car.
I’m taking my car to get it professionally deep cleaned later this week and I can’t tell you how ready I am for it. If you splurge on anything, splurge on this. It will make driving any distance a thousand times better without having to step on empty oreo wrappers, shuffle empty paper coffee cups so you can have your new one readily available, and wonder where that weird smell is coming from. If you don’t want to treat yo self to the luxury that is a squeaky clean car, at the very least get all your crap out, toss the trash in the garbage, and vacuum it, maybe wash the windows if you’re feeling productive. Not only will this make you feel better about driving but if you’re a weekend warrior that tends to use your car as an occasional gear closet, it will help you figure out what all you have and what all you need to get when it comes down to packing.
Honestly, just clean and organize everything you own.
Not only does coming back to a clean room after a long trip feel incredible, but it, once again, helps you realize what all you have and what all you need to buy, if anything, in order to have a good trip. When I did this to my own room this weekend I found my sleeping pad, yoga mat, camera battery charger, and realized that I should purchase some nonstick cooking pans for cooking in Utah. I even found my boyfriend’s old headlamp and a lot of q-tips. Once everything is clean you can take inventory and it’ll make your packing life a thousand times easier.
Pack good pillows.
Spending ten plus days cocooned in my REI Serrana sleeping bag only sounds amazing if the temperature is actually below freezing and my furnace of a boyfriend isn’t sharing the tent with me. After my first spring break trip to the Red River Gorge three years ago where I used a tiny pillow and slept with my sleeping bag wide open so I didn’t overheat, I’ve made some serious changes about how I car camp. I have three designated camping blankets: a quilt, an old feather comforter, and an itchy souvenir blanket I got from Emerald Isle a long time ago. Those may not sound like much but they definitely make the tent sleeping experience feel more like a bed and allows me to move around comfortably and poke limbs out the side of the blankets. To add to this luxurious experience, I’ve also designated two old pillows of mine to be camping pillows for myself and my boyfriend, it’s definitely a step up from the compact backpackers pillow.
Last, but certainly not least, invest in a two-burner camp stove.
While you can survive using a tiny single burner stove (I do love my MSR PocketRocket) having a two burner stove really is wonderful if you’re camping with others and will be out for more than a few days. I bought my boyfriend the Coleman Triton Series for Valentine’s day and got to enjoy it throughout the Valentine’s day weekend (see my previous post on climbing with ladies for photos). Being able to make real food and not reheat soup or make packaged oatmeal, was an absolute dream, just remember to bring some form of trash bag. If you’ve got $70 to drop and don’t need to get your car fixed and are a fairly clean car owner, then do yourself a favor and get a two burner camp stove. Your tummy will thank you (and on that note- buy driving snacks ahead of time and pack fruit!).
While I would love to go backpacking with all my light weight gear, the ease and luxury of car camping definitely has a pleasantness about it. I’m no expert on being prepared, for anything really, and I often wait till the last minute before I start trying to tackle any of this. If any of this stuff stress you out, breathe, you’re going some place crazy cool with amazing people (or your amazing self) and you should treat yo self to a little something nice, like ice cream. Or a bubble bath. Or tacos.