How to Plan a Last Minute Camping Trip

Written by Teresa Harrington on November 06, 2017


In a perfect world, your plans to take a camping trip would be laid out well in advance. You'd make your site reservations months out, ensuring that you'd have all the best amenities and views upon your arrival. In reality, the inspiration to get away and enjoy a break from the monotony of day-to-day life isn't always planned—and you may find yourself wanting to take an impromptu camping trip. You might run into some challenges when it comes to finding a site reservation and making sure you've got all your essentials before you take off, but by following some practical tips and steps, you'll be well on your way to an enjoyable last-minute camping trip!

Be as Flexible as Possible

When you're planning a camping adventure at the last minute, flexibility is key. Be open to the idea that you might not get that "perfect" camping site with water, electricity, and other hookups. You may end up at a site that's located a bit of a walk from the campsite restrooms or other amenities. Unfortunately, when you reserve a site at the last minute, you're more-or-less at the mercy of the campground and the minimal selection of sites they have left (if any). Don't turn down an available site reservation just because it's not perfect. Chances are, you will not be able to find your ideal site at another campground—and by the time you call back to reserve the one you were offered, another eager last-minute camper may have snagged the last site.

Check for Last-Minute Cancellations

Even if you're having a hard time finding an available site at the campground of your choice, don't give up. Depending on just how last-minute you're planning your trip, you may still have some time to call the campground office back daily and inquire about cancellations before your trip. People generally make their cancellations either first thing in the morning or late in the afternoon, so don't hesitate to call twice a day to ask about cancellations. Some campgrounds may even be courteous enough to call you if something becomes available; just ask if they offer a wait list.

Venture Off the Beaten Path

If all else fails and you're still not able to secure a campsite in your ideal campground or location, it may be time to venture off the beaten path a bit. Expand your search a radius of a few miles to uncover other campgrounds that you might not have considered otherwise, or relocate your camping destination altogether! This could be a great opportunity for you to get out of your comfort zone a bit and explore an entirely new place. For a little more peace of mind, do some research online and read reviews of other campgrounds or check for recommendations to find a destination that will suit your interests. You just might discover a new favourite place to camp!

Don't Forget the Essentials

Even once you've secured your campground reservation, there are still some other last-minute tips to keep in mind as you prepare for your trip. Aside from making sure you've packed enough attire for any imaginable weather, also be sure you've got:

  • flashlights and/or lanterns
  • an emergency first aid kit
  • plenty of batteries and/or chargers
  • sunscreen and bug spray
  • toiletries
  • any medications you may need

If you're lucky, your campground may have a store where you can purchase forgotten items, but you shouldn't count on this being the case, as the supplies in these camp stores are often quite limited!

Plan Your Route and Stops

If you have time before your trip, try to create a tentative plan of the route you'll take to get to your campsite, as well as any scheduled stops you'll make along the way. This is especially important if you'll be traveling a substantial distance to get to your camping destination. Planning out these details ahead of time can help you save money, because you can strategically plan stops where fuel costs are lower. If you're camping in an RV, even a savings of a few cents per litre in gas can really pay off and free up spending money for other activities on your trip.

Planning a last-minute camping trip can be exciting, but it can also be a bit frustrating if you don't know where to start. By being flexible and open to trying new things, you can make your last-minute camping trip an experience that you'll cherish for many years to come.

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