An Internet search will turn up a million and one checklists about what to take with you when you GO camping. What I’ve found, however, is that people have little problem bringing everything they need with them, but where they fall apart is knowing what to do with it all when they get home!
Who hasn’t just left a suitcase full of unworn clothes, dirty clothes, and toiletries languishing in the corner for a few days (or longer) after a trip? NOT a good idea for your camping gear, since there’s been considerable expense over the years to gather all your equipment. Unpacking later, rather than sooner, can ruin many different items.
When I got back from my camping trip with Nicole last weekend, I was hot, tired, and dirty. But I knew I shouldn’t leave the gear just sitting there (especially in the back of my truck!) So after a quick lunch, I got right to the business of unpacking all my gear.
Do you RV? The very first thing you need to do is dump your holding tanks of grey and black water. If you can, dump the tanks at the campground, since many provide RV dumps. If you camp a lot, and if it’s feasible at your house, consider having a sewer connection near where you park your RV.
The EatStayPlay.com “Royal” Family (okay, so it was all ESP Boss!) had a level concrete pad poured where we park the RV. Right there we have a sewer dump, fresh water connection, and power.
Return any leftover foods to the refrigerator or pantry, as necessary, and discard any foods that may have spoiled. Do this sooner rather than later. Some items on the put-away checklist can be done the next day, but food needs to be unpacked and returned to the refrigerator or pantry right away.
Rinse the ice chest and allow to dry. Sprinkle some baking soda in the ice chest to keep it odor-free and fresh until the next time you use it. This is a great time to make sure the valve to let out water is still working and that there are no cracks or bows in the chest. If anything is damaged, replace the ice chest.
Gather up and dispose of any remaining trash.
As you unpack, take inventory of your gear. Did you leave anything behind? Identify any items that are damaged, broken, or consumed (like matches). Be sure to count your tent stakes to make sure you’ll have enough for the next trip. Then, make a list of what needs repair or replacement. Pay special attention to items in your first aid kit.
When we get home from a camping trip, we also make sure to restock on any paper products we’ve used: toilet paper, paper plates, paper towels, plastic silverware, and make sure that the replacements get back into the trailer or camping box.
Separate all clothes and bedding items that may need laundering. Don’t wait to start doing the laundry; wash whatever you can, as soon as you can, to remove outdoor smells that can come from campfires, or from lakes, streams, and beaches, or from dirt, mud, and sand, etc.
Set up your tent to air it out, especially if it got wet while camping, and give it a good sweeping before stowing it. Be sure to air out any other camping gear, which may have gotten wet on the trip, to avoid possible mold and mildew. If your RV has slide-outs or anything tent-like (awnings, tent trailer sides, fold out beds, etc.) be sure to open all of these when you get home and make sure they are dry.
(If you are in an area that gets morning dew, make sure that all the gear is stowed before the dew falls, or you’ll have to wait for everything to dry out again!)
Clean all kitchen utensils, cookware, dishes, glasses, and silverware – if you can, run everything through the dishwasher. Return kitchen items to where they belong, and store all camping specific cooking items together.
Open your camping stove and wipe off any grease or food particles. You also might need to wash any cooking surfaces.
Make sure that any camping stoves and lanterns are turned off and that all fuel containers are properly stored.
Empty any water containers and allow to dry. You’ll want to keep a close eye on it however, so as soon as the inside is dry, you put the lid on tightly. There is nothing worse that filling up your potable water container and having a big dead spider looking up at you from the bottom! Or peering inside to see dust, cat hairs, dead bugs, LIVE bugs… You get the picture!
Take good care of your camping gear since it was an investment and you will want to use it for many years to come.
Readers Weigh In:
- Do you have other items on YOUR unpacking checklist?