Approximately one year ago, my husband announced that we were going camping during the summer. We talk about future trips and places we want to go, all the time. I wasn’t quite sure that we were going to actually go camping, for real. As it got closer to June, I realized that we were going to Yosemite, and it was time to start planning. I had never really “camped” before, so I started doing some research, online of course!
Five Steps On How I Planned Our Yosemite Camping Trip Using The Internet
1. Visit Your Destination’s Official Website
I had never been to Yosemite before, so I started at the beginning, Yosemite’s Official Website, via The National Park Service. I wanted to know what there was to do while we were on this vacation. And also, what kinds of activities would be suitable for a 7-year boy who was the only kid in a group of fourteen people. I planned their page on Plan Your Visit, which featured directions, fees, hours, reservations, things to do, and also videos for planning.
Yosemite has thirteen campgrounds and reservations have to be made a year in advance for many of them. Luckily, we were traveling with some expert Yosemite travelers whom had already made reservations a year prior. My husband advised me that we were staying at Housekeeping Camp. My husband already advised me that we were not tent camping, but he also gave me a vague description of our actual lodging. I was able to research Housekeeping Camps lodging and amenities. I learned about the sizes of our bear boxes, where we would take showers, and also what types of items were found in the camp store.
2. Find Out More Information About Preparation/Lodging/Suggestions For Your Campsite via Message Boards, Websites, Reviews, and Blogs
Squirrels were a popular topic on any article that I found about Yosemite. Squirrels are everywhere in Yosemite. And after spending almost a week camping in Yosemite, I have learned that these are a special type of squirrel. These squirrels are evil geniuses. They are super smart. Their main objective is food. They will do anything to get to your food. Yes, you have to worry about the famous black bears at Yosemite. But, there are thousands of little squirrels running around the campsites. It is almost like there are platoons of squirrels in the squirrel army. They meet all day and conspire on how to steal food. My husband caught two of them running around where are beds were. He finally noticed that they were sneaking out beef jerky, piece by piece.
We were traveling with some very experience Yosemite campers. Our friend, Laurra sent us a list via email of things to bring/pack/have. I trolled all kinds of forums and websites for additional items and suggestions. I kept adding to Laurra’s original list. Bringing a set of Christmas Lights to mark your camping area is GENIUS. It gets very dark at night, and trying to find your campsite after going to the bathroom can be difficult. I never got lost because I always looked for our red/white/blue Christmas lights. I am lucky that our family hoards lights.
3. Do Research On Camping Equipment For Reviews and Best Prices
Using lists that we found online and via friends, we were able to check some things off that we already had. As first time campers, we had to buy quite a few things though. We went to several sporting goods store locally and stalked things we wanted in advance. As our trip got closer, we really researched the items that we wanted.
One of the most important things that we needed for the trip was a large cooler. We were going to be camping for six days, and that meant five breakfasts, lunches, and dinners to make. We had to make sure that all of our perishable items were going to stay cold while we were camping. There is nothing worse than having your food go bad. I started looking for 5 or 6-day coolers online. I found several that I liked, and then went a step further. I would do searches on the specific model that I was looking at and looked at reviews/complaints. We settled on a Coleman 100-quart Xtreme 5-day Cooler. After reading reviews, I knew how to properly stack the dry ice around our food to keep it frozen, and when to start adding bags of ice to the cooler to keep everything fresh. By the way, the dry ice stayed intact from Saturday night at 5pm till about Wednesday afternoon-ish. After that we added a 10-lb bag of ice each day. We actually took food home and it went straight back into our refrigerator.
My husband received a Weber Q gas grill as a service award through his company right before we left on our trip. I searched online and found accessories to go with the gas grill. One thing in particular that caught my eye was a griddle to put on top of the grill for cooking. He used that griddle every day while camping for making eggs, bacon, and pancakes. I wouldn’t have bought the griddle without finding reviews that others had left.
4. Keep A Spreadsheet and/or Pinterest Board To Organize Lists
As I said prior, our friend, Laurra, emailed us a list of things to bring and pack for our camping trip. Her family has gone every year for the past thirty years. My husband and I added things to the list as time went on. We kept it as a Google doc so that we could access it when we needed it. After going on the trip, we added more things to the list. We plan to re-organize the list and add check boxes for next year’s trip. We can then send the list to everyone in the group. We also made a menu plan with items listed for each meal. Every family was in charge of one dinner for the week. We input what everyone was bringing and making so that there would not be an overlap and more variety.
Pinterest was awesome for planning this trip. I went online and found recipes, games, crafts, and ideas for camping trips. I used Pinterest and created a “Summer Camping Trip” board to organize it all. When it got closer to our trip, I reviewed all of my “pins” and ideas with my husband. We used several recipes that I had “pinned” and everyone in our group was impressed. They kept asking where I got my recipes. I replied, “The Internet and Pinterest are My BFF”.
I knew that I was bringing a few recipes with me on our camping trip. A few of these were first time attempts and I couldn’t remember all of the steps. Rather than printing out the recipes, I screenshot the recipes from the websites that I found them on. I knew that there would be little to no Internet while we were actually in Yosemite, so I made sure to do all of these screenshots ahead of time. My camera roll on my iPhone was like a little mini cookbook.
When it was our turn for our family to make dinner while camping, we made Crockpot BBQ Chicken and Campfire Orange Cakes. Yes, we had access to electricity to use our crock pots. We had three crockpots going that night, two for chicken and one for the beans. The Campfire Orange Cakes shocked everyone. They were delicious, and very orange-y.
Not all of our camping trip was OCD planned, I promise. I just wanted to make sure that we had all of the gear and food organized. We were far from a large sporting goods store and groceries can get expensive in Yosemite Valley. We had plenty of food for our trip, and we were prepared for anything with all of our supplies. It is probably a good thing that we have a large truck.
Yosemite was beautiful and we had a great time. I survived my first big camping trip. I was definitely be going again next year!