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One way to enjoy the outdoors with family and friends is car camping. If you want a meaningful activity during your vacation or this summertime, car camping is a perfect bonding adventure. Implementing the best car camping ideas will help you enjoy and fully experience nature trip like no other.

What is car camping? Car camping refers to staying a few days to a particular location, like a park, the beach, mountainside or anywhere, to experience living outdoors or away from home, and become closer to nature. It's also a cheap way to travel out of town without having to rent an inn or stay in a hotel. If you want a successful car camping trip, you need to be prepared with your camping tent, gear, utensils, cooker, storage, and car camping accessories.

In this post, you'll learn the practical and effective camping hacks and tips for a more enjoyable car camping journey. So, let's get started!

Here Are Some of the Best Car Camping Ideas

Unlike traditional camping, car camping involves a more limited space but it's easier to set up and pack up. Car camping is generally an on-the-go camping experience because you can modify your vehicle as an extension of your camping area, hence the name. It's perfect for couples, small families, and small groups. Check out the best car camping ideas you can try!

1. Building a platform and transforming your car into a camper.

transform your car into a camper

You can transform your car, van, any four-wheel drive, or truck into a mini camper. That's why a camper van can be your best travel buddy. For many people, it is comfier than traditional camping tents but it can be very expensive. 

Other models need flexibility and lose seats or a full vehicle conversion. But don't worry because there's a less expensive solution that can maintain a wider loading space and also bring more passengers with you.

You can build a platform using the following materials:

  • 1 Phenolic plywood board (15 to 18 mm thick)
  • 4 to 6 hinges (another option is 2 piano hinges)
  • 4 foldable brackets with 75 kg carrying capacity each
  • Long screws (just enough to fit in the board without sticking out on the other side
  • 2 solid wood blocks such as yoga blocks or cork
  • 1.5 to 2 meters of rope or cord, like a strong 6 mm polyester cord

2. Portable Car Awning

You can create a more spacious room by investing in a portable car awning. Choose one that is easy to assemble. A good alternative is simply suspending a waterproof tarp using some strong rope or cord from the rear side of your car.

3. Use a Rooftop Car Tent

While a roof car tent can be expensive, it is still cheaper as compared to an RV or a hotel. It is also not as suffocating as being inside and you can get a nice peak at the stars while you're up there.

4. Specifically Designed Vehicle Tents

There are tents designed to fit a particular vehicle such as an SUV tent. It provides a perfect place you can sleep comfortably outside your car. There are also dedicated tents for trucks too! The good thing about specifically designed vehicle tents is you can easily access the trunk area while sleeping in car camping. We highly recommend reading reviews of SUV tents for camping.

Car Camping Essentials

What do you need to bring in car camping? You'll need one of the best car camping tents and a car camping bed. You also need cool camping gear and kitchen supplies and utensils. Let's find out and review some of these car camping essentials!

Car camping

1. Car Camping Tent

A backpacking tent is far from a car camping tent. You can choose a 4-person tent that also fits an inflatable queen mattress.

Get a car camping tent that is one or two sizes larger for a more spacious area.

2. Car Camping Bed

You can either use a sleeping bag or an inflatable car bed. If you do not have a tent or you simply don't want the hassle of bringing one, an inflatable car bed is a smart choice. You can bring really light and sleeping bags and the weight will not be a big issue, because it's for car camping.

Keep your ladies warm in top rated sleeping bags for girls we reviewed. You'll find really nice ones that are also durable and reasonably priced online. For couples who want to cuddle, you can invest in buy a double sleeper for a comfortable sleep!

3. Daypack

For a car camping, a large backpack is not really required, but it’s always nice to have one, a small or medium-sized, for hiking. Your backpack should fit your body type and build. If you're buying online, choose a brand with clear instructions given on how to find the right size of a backpack for you.

4. Stove and Cookware

It's possible to cook instant noodles and make your Mountain House meals by choosing a stove and cookware that quickly boils water.  You will need different cookware if you want to cook different recipes. But, there is also a multi-purpose cooker you can find to save the hassle of using different cookware.

5. Flashlight or Headlamp

use a flashlight or headlamp inside the tent

Remember that bugs, moths, and other types of insects are everywhere so you need a source of light to keep them away from your car camp area. A campfire light can help you.

Also, you can use a flashlight or headlamp to go inside the tent or the camping bathroom. If you'll get a lantern, choose one that charges your USB devices like your phone. A solar-charged lantern is also a nice choice.

6. Food

Make your car camping experience unique and fun by bringing your home-cooked food, such as bacon and eggs for breakfast or lasagna for dinner. Also, you can bring your favorite road trip snacks like brown bears, cookies, chips, and s'mores. Of course, you need to prepare your car camping kitchen with the necessary kitchen tools you need such as a small chopping board and knife.

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7. Food Storage

One of the best camping storage ideas is investing in a bear-proof food storage container. It will help ensure that your food and scented hygiene items are secured from bears that can break into your vehicle. A bear-proof cooler keeps perishable food and beverages cold. It is tough and usually comes in various sizes. A bear canister is also a good place to store all food, trash, and scented items.

8. First-aid Kit

Camping has tons of health benefits, but you still need to be prepared by bringing your first aid supplies because you'll never know what's going to happen outdoors. If you already have a first-aid kit, make sure to refill it instead of buying a new one. Survive camping outdoor injuries and sickness with a complete first aid kit!

Car Camping Tips and Tricks

car camping tips and tricks

If you want to go to a beautiful beach or a national park, there are tips and tricks you can consider to transform your car into cozy and convenient accommodation. Here are the best car camping tips and cool camping ideas you can try:

1. Use Camping Screens

Using camping screens in all windows keeps the ambiance cool and breezy. Camping screens also avoid the build-up of condensation. It will keep bugs away passing through while you're asleep.

2. Use Helpful Apps

If you want to find free parking easily, you can find a helpful app to show the best nearby spots in your area. The Walmart Overnight Parking app is helpful if you are looking for safe and more places to rest or sleep in your vehicle. You can use the GasBuddy app so you'll find the cheapest gas prices available on your route.

3. Fire Starter Tips

For a source of fire camping tips, using matches is easier than flints. Do not forget picking up some wood prior to heading to the campsite. You will see homes selling firewood on the way or onsite stores.

4. Car Camping Hacks

car camping hacks include trash can and collapsible sink

Car camping hacks include trash can and collapsible sink to make your camping more organized and cleaner.

You can create your DIY trash bin for your car by transforming cereal container into a portable and lightweight trashcan and then use a plastic bag as lining. A handy tub or collapsible sink is a nice investment to do light laundry and wash dishes.

5. Safety Tips

Always bring your first aid kit, medications, GPS, and other safety devices for your peace of mind. Keep the emergency phone numbers at hand on your phone book and a piece of paper kept in a secured place, so you can contact 911 or the police immediately in emergency situations.

Truck Camping Ideas

Truck camping is a great way to add more years to your life! You can do ski, hiking, mountain climbing, travel long distance, and master photography with truck camping. It is highly recommended for those who want to try extreme adventures because you can bring more cool camping gear with you. It is an excellent way to do the following:

  • Camp interstate
  • Tour wildlife campsites
  • Multiple adventures

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Car camping is a special and unforgettable outdoor activity for the whole family or circle of friends. Like any other type of camping, it teaches you how to appreciate nature and life in general. If you're fully prepared and all packed for a car camping, then you'll surely enjoy every moment with a smile!