Finally, the time for your next camping adventure has come, and you’re so ready to explore new mountain sites, hiking trails, and national parks. But, with the excitement also comes stress about packing your camping gear, especially if you’re flying to the destination. Yes, it can be a challenge, but thankfully there are plenty of clever tips to save you from hours of figuring out how to pack your luggage to meet airport security standards. Well, that’s why we gathered the most practical tips that were tested before by fellow campers. Can I pack my tent, a stove fuel, matches? These questions and more will soon be answered.
#1 Baggage and Weight Restrictions
The first thing you need to do before you start packing is to check the weight limits and size restrictions of your airline. Some budget airlines have lower weight limits and smaller size restrictions, in order to catch people off guard and make them pay a higher fee. So always read their rules carefully.
Even a few pounds over the limit can be charged, for both carry-on and checked baggage. They will ask you either throw some things away or pay for the extra weight, neither of which are a great option. To prevent this from happening, purchase a luggage scale so you can check the weight of your bags before leaving home and make any necessary adjustments.
If you are parking at an off-site parking lot to save money, then check their restrictions, as well, to see if they limit the number of bags per person on the shuttle. You can book your airport parking spot online so you are guaranteed an open spot upon arrival, which will save time and avoid stress. The shuttle drivers usually offer free luggage assistance onto the shuttle so you don’t have to worry about carrying your heavy bags.
#2 Know What is Allowed Onboard
Once you have figured out how much you are allowed to bring, now you need to figure out what you can’t bring. Most budget travelers want to avoid checking bags because it usually costs an extra fee. But unfortunately, you can’t always bring all your camping gear in your carry-on bag because it’s not all TSA-friendly.
The TSA website warns that only empty fuel camping stoves can be carried on. Due to its flammable substances, you have to be sure that your stove is cleaned very carefully before packing it. Other inflammable substances, like gel fire starter, are prohibited both in carry-on and checked bags.
Sharp items, such as knives and tent poles, are only allowed in the checked bags. Make sure that these items are properly wrapped, so they do not damage any of the equipment packed with them. On the other hand, safety matches are only allowed in the carry-on bag. You can only have one box of them with you. Flashlights are allowed in all of your luggage. For anything you are unsure about, you can always consult your airline or start searching for shops at your destination that sell these things.
#3 Pack Lightweight
Know that you know all the relevant restrictions, it’s time to make a list of the things you need to pack. First, start with the absolute necessities. Lightweight bags make it so much easier to move around and are much less of a hassle. For items that aren’t necessarily must-haves, but would be nice to have, see if you can find a smaller or lighter alternative. If you are traveling with a group, discuss the option of sharing some of the items. Check your destination to see if you might have the option to rent or purchase heavier equipment. Also, check if there’s a possibility to do laundry so you can bring fewer clothes. The rule here is that less is more.
#4 Compress More
Make all your things fit into a smaller-sized bag by compressing as much as you can to make room for other things that can’t be compressed. Sleeping bags and jackets can be packed in compression sacks, which you can carry on your back. If you don’t want to carry a lot of weight, then you can buy vacuum-sealed bags that are cheap and fit in any suitcase. Even food can be compressed, and it’s a practical solution if it’s not easy to find food supplies close to the campsite. You can buy or even cook freeze-dried meals at home. Apart from being light and easy to pack, they are prepared quickly, just by heating them up.
#5 Protect Camping Gear from Damages
There’s nothing more disappointing and frustrating than opening your suitcase to find one of your favorite objects is shattered or damaged. We have two tips for you. The first is to buy or borrow a hard-sided suitcase to place fragile things. As we all know, luggage is not always treated gently by the airlines, so often times the contents of our luggage can be damaged. The worst part is that travelers hardly ever get compensated for it. A hard-sided bag can prevent accidents of this kind. Check out a local thrift store if you don’t have much money to spend on new luggage. Then, place trekking poles and tent poles in the middle of your checked bags and cover them with soft objects like clothes to protect them from bending and breaking.
#6 Mark Your Luggage
You made it to your destination, and you’re excited about getting as fast as you can to the campsite. Before that, you have to claim all your baggage back. In case you have many suitcases, you have to make sure that you don’t forget any of them at the airport. An easy but wise tip is to mark all of your luggage with something that stands out from other luggage. For example, you can use ribbons or tags of the same color to identify your bags. It will be easier to spot and collect them from the carousel.
If you follow these tips, you can save yourself from spending time packing unnecessary objects. You also know where your things are, in the checked or carry-on bags, and have made your choice to bring some things with you or purchase/rent camping gear upon arrival. Now, you’re ready to live your adventure to the fullest.