Essential car camping tips and accessories

Car camping is becoming an increasingly popular way to explore the great outdoors without the need for a traditional campsite. Whether you're a seasoned adventurer or just looking to try something new, car camping is a unique experience that lets you get back to nature. But what should you know before packing up your car and heading out?

Is it legal to camp in your car?

In the UK, car camping is generally legal. But that’s not to say you shouldn’t check local regulations and land ownership before setting up for the night. Many areas – particularly in rural and remote locations – allow overnight parking and camping in designated spots. 

Rules, however, can vary widely between different regions, councils and even specific sites so it's always best to ask permission if you're unsure, and consult local authorities or landowners.

And remember to preserve the beautiful spots up and down the UK, engaging in responsible camping practices like following the Leave No Trace principles. Taking the time to understand and adhere to local guidelines means you can enjoy a worry-free adventure while contributing to maintaining the natural beauty of the area.

Which items should I consider when car camping?

Car camping isn't just about throwing a sleeping bag in the back seat and hitting the road. It also requires careful planning and consideration of several factors, such as:

  • Safety. Ensure your chosen spot is safe and legal. Research the area beforehand and avoid camping in restricted zones.
  • Comfort. Consider what you'll need for a good night's sleep, whether in the car or a tent. Bring suitable bedding and pillows.
  • Amenities. Think about access to water, toilets, and other facilities. Plan your location near essential amenities or bring what you'll need.
  • Weather. Pack appropriate clothing and gear for the expected weather conditions, including rain gear, sun protection, or extra layers for cold nights.
  • Road trip apps. Don’t forget to download road trip apps that can help with your journey and camping experience, Google Maps and perhaps even Netflix if you fancy enjoying a movie moment outdoors. 

What is the best way to pack a car for camping?

Packing your car for camping is a bit of an art form when it comes down to it and requires careful thought and organisation. Let’s take a look at what you should consider for a perfectly packed car.

  • Order. Pack items you'll need last at the bottom and those you'll need first at the top. Think about the sequence of your trip and what you'll need at different stages.
  • Space. If you're sleeping in the car, leave enough room to stretch out comfortably. If you fill the car, you'll need a tent to sleep in. Consider collapsible furniture or inflatable mattresses to maximise space.
  • Accessibility. Keep essential items like torches, water, and snacks within easy reach. Think about what you might need quickly, especially during the night or in an emergency.
  • Protection. Use containers or bags to protect delicate items and prevent spills. Consider waterproof containers for liquids and soft padding for fragile items.
  • Efficiency. Utilise all available space, including under seats and in door pockets, and consider roof racks or cargo carriers if needed. Packing efficiently guarantees that everything has its place and is easily accessible.

What accessories will I need for car camping?

When it comes to accessories for car camping, preparation trumps all else. Here's a handy list to ensure you have everything you need:

  • Sleeping Gear. A comfortable sleeping bag, pillow, and if sleeping outside the car, a tent. Consider the weather and choose appropriate insulation and material.
  • Cooking Equipment. A portable stove, utensils, and food storage containers. Think about easy-to-cook meals and pack necessary condiments and cleaning supplies.
  • Lighting. Torches, lanterns, or headlamps. Ensure you have spare batteries or charging options to keep the lights on.
  • Navigation Tools. Maps, compass, or GPS device. Even with technology, having a physical map can be a lifesaver.
  • Emergency Kit. First aid supplies, multi-tool, spare tyre, and jumper cables. Prepare for unexpected situations and keep these items easily accessible.
  • Entertainment. Books, games, or a camera to capture the memories. Keep your downtime enjoyable with some leisure activities.
  • Hygiene Products. Don't forget personal care items like toothbrush, soap, and towels to maintain cleanliness during your trip.
  • Electric car cables. This might seem criminally obvious but if you’re driving an electric vehicle, don’t forget to pack your charging cable. This vital accessory will keep you topped up with charge to help you explore the open road without worry of having to be towed home.

Camp out

Car camping is a fantastic way to connect with nature without leaving behind the comforts of home. With a bit of planning and the right accessories, you'll be well on your way to an unforgettable adventure in no time. So why not give it a go? Pack up the car, hit the road, and discover the joys of car camping. Happy camping! 🚗🏕️

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