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Stress-Free Day Trips Or Overnight Camping Trips

Adventuring for week-long trips in the backcountry is our preference, but the realities of life mean that day trips or short overnight camping trips are more common. The benefit being, the list of must-have items gets cut dramatically!

Whether you have an overland rig that's ready to hit the trail at any moment or a trusty daily driver, we have some tips to help you stay prepared so you can be ready to go at any time. Why is this beneficial? First and foremost, the preparation is going to eliminate an immense amount of stress. One of the top reasons people choose to stay home, rather than pack up their family to enjoy the outdoors, is the anxiety they feel towards packing the right gear.

Let's shatter that stress by putting together an effective plan of attack. We're going to take you through our set up, which includes items that live in our truck at all times, plus we'll discuss some of the stressors that we've overcome.

Bring On The Basics

One of the easiest ways to make a day trip or overnight camping trip happen quickly (and stress-free) is to have your important items packed in advance. Whether you're packing gear in a truck bed drawer system or totes in the back of your car, having a permanent spot for these key items will prevent a huge headache! Here's the list of items we always have in the truck:

Two Days of Food

If you're like us, your diet consists of fresh produce and wholesome meats, but this isn't the time to be worried about that! Pack enough high calorie non-perishable foods to last every person two days. Think top ramen, Peak Refuel meals, protein bars, mac & cheese and oatmeal. Make sure that you pay attention to expiration dates. We tend to cycle things out once every three months if it hasn't been consumed.


Packing a case of water bottles may seem like the easy solution, but it takes up a ton of space! Not to mention how wasteful it is. We use Nalgene bottles and carry a 4 gallon water container on our truck, as well as a water purification system that's small enough to fit in your pocket! We use this water container with our set up!

Extra Clothes

This varies greatly based on what climate you live in and the time of year it is. No matter what, we always have a jacket for everyone packed under the truck seat or in a tote in the back. In the colder months we store gloves and hats in the truck because we always managed to forget them when we stored them at home. When the boys were younger we would make sure there was an entire outfit for each of them. Accidents of all kinds can happen, so it's best to be prepared! If you're looking for high quality gear, we highly recommend checking out Beyond Clothing. Their clothing is very durable, which is huge for our family!

Bug Spray & Sunscreen

This is pretty self explanatory! The places we go expose us to the elements, so having proper coverage is key! Have you tried sleeping in a tent with a family of four after getting a sunburn? I don't recommend it! Make sure that you pack sunblock with at least 50 spf coverage. We started using this bug spray last year and love it due to it not being greasy.

Recovery Gear

This will vary based on the type of vehicle you have. Traction boards, a winch, a shovel and straps are just a few options available to getting you out of a sticky situation. We run a winch on our front bumper, carry traction boards on our bed rack and have a variety of straps that live under the backseat of the Jeep. We also have an air compressor installed under the hood of the Jeep that we use to air up the tires. If we got a flat along the road and needed to use some plugs, the compressor would be a life saver!

Cooking Gear

A compact cooking stove ties into the food catagory. Cooking over a fire might sound glamorous, but let's be honest - when you're hungry you want food NOW! Don't get me started on the hangry kids! We've used a number of cooking stoves, but we recently made the switch to Front Runner Outfitters Cadac. This is a one-stop-shop as far as cooking stoves go. This two burner stove also comes with two aluminum, non-stick grill and griddle tops, so you can leave the heavy pans at home. You'll also need to have 2 canisters of fuel - propane is the most common. Reusable utensils, plates and bowls also make the cut. Our Front Runner Outfitters Camp Kitchen Utensil Set is the perfect utensil set and organizer.

Garbage Bags

Aside from cleaning our own messes, we like to leave our favorite places better than we found it. It's sad how much garbage we find, especially when you consider how far in the backcountry we travel. Do your part and pick up any trash you find along your adventure path. Consider packing some gloves to avoid sharp edges on rusted metal or glass.


The only screens you'll find on our adventures are our cameras. We always have a variety of books and activities in the truck to keep the boys entertained during the drive. Every 3-4 weeks the boys will swap stuff out so they don't get bored. This is a great way to get your kids involved in the process!

Winning The Mental Battle

Now that your bags are packed, you're ready for the tough part - the mental battle. This is the part where all your doubts, fears and insecurities creep up and paralyze you. Take a deep breath and let's work through these issues.


Fear is the number one reason people tell us they don't get outdoors more with their family. I've been there! The most difficult time for me was right after having the boys. I had severe postpartum anxiety that plagued every aspect of my life. I was convinced that everything wanted to hurt my babies! With the support of Patrick and the passion I had for being outside, I embraced the discomfort and overcame my crippling fear.

I began taking our boys camping on my own when they were both tiny, for up to a week at a time, and discovered a strength I never knew was there. Fear will always exist, but I don't let it run my life. If you don't feel comfortable going alone, ask friends to join. If you struggle to find friends to join you (as I do to this day), look to social media to connect with likeminded people that will tag along.

Unrealistic Expectations

Every mental battle begins with expectations. I used to be the worst offender at setting unrealistic expectations for our trips. As soon as something went sideways, I convinced myself that the trip was ruined. Countless trips were plagued with stress and insecurities of me not providing the experience I felt my family deserved. There's a saying for this - roll with the punches!

We've found that traveling with an open mind is key to success. Research what activities you want to include on your trip, but stay flexible. Amazing opportunities present themselves at the most unexpected times.

Practice Makes Perf... Better

The path to success isn't easy. There will be up's and down's along the way. This is a lesson we go over with our boys almost daily because it applies to everything in life. Becoming efficient and comfortable with traveling is no different. The more you do it, the easier it will get.

We still make silly, simple mistakes, but we don't let it effect us. Every mistake made is another lesson learned.

Time To Hit The Road

You have the gear and the mental toughness to take on any adventure you dream of! It's time to get out there and enjoy the incredible world that awaits!

We would love to hear about any ways you've found success in overcoming the stress and fear of traveling! Share it with us in the comments below!

*This post contains affiliate links, so we earn a small commission when you make a purchase through links on our site at no additional cost to you. These funds help fuel our adventures, which we love sharing with you!

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