The Happy Camper: Road Trip Prep

Kevin Callan talks about camping road trips—and offers up some essentials to pack for the adventure.


After the long winter we’ve had, I think every camper in Canada is going to be heading out this coming Long Weekend to pitch a tent or park a trailer.

My 10-year-old daughter has already packed her bag, choosing which cuddly animal to bring for our couple of nights sleeping in the woods. My dog is set to go as well. The moment Angel saw me place our canoe on top the vehicle, she began her ritual pacing at the back door. I’ve downloaded our favourite camp tunes for easy listening along the way—including some classic John Denver and Neil Young for me and Taylor Swift and The Proclaimers for Kyla. Apart from iTunes (and a few tasty road snacks), here’s a few new items I’ve purchased for this year’s first road trip—and a few pointers to keep in mind while packing as well.


The GloveBox Trunk Organizer from Canadian Tire

This is an innovative way to give you extra space for all those items you don’t necessarily need—but want to bring. The price is just over $40. You can also pick up a Glovebox Backseat Organizer, Visor Organizer and Traveling Buddy. It seems simple enough—but for someone as disorganized as I am, this thing is an absolute necessity.


Kurgo Wander Pet Car Hammock

Yes, my dog is spoiled. She also is one of the most hyperactive dogs I’ve ever owned. Angel is a “Gollie”—half border collie and half golden retriever. Muddy paw prints and clumps of fur seem to get everywhere—and there’s the occasional bit of doggy vomit due to her carsickness. Having this anti-microbial and stain-resistant hammock strung up in the back seat reduces my anxiety, and the dog’s as well. It also stops her from trying to jump in the front seat with Kyla and I. The Kurgo Wander Pet Car Hammock is also available at Canadian Tire for $64. 

Badger’s Cub Paddle

This is really cool. Badger Paddles came up with a “cub paddle” this year. It’s a kid’s paddle that you can colour. I picked one up for Kyla  just prior to our trip. Basically, it’s a regular varnished paddle (but with extra coats of varnish) with some outlined colouring book-style images on it that you colour with dry-erase crayons! It could be fun, right? Bring some  crayons with you and you have a colouring pad that can get wet! At least it is a bit different than playing eye-spy or singing the entire “Beers on the Wall” song.

Audio Books

Once all the DVDs are watched and iPod games are played through, the free audio books from the library become an absolute lifesaver. Kyla listened to the entire Anne of Green Gables on the way to our camping trip to Prince Edward Island, and The Chronicles of Narnia on the way to Lake Superior.

Spare Car Keys

Don’t laugh. Locking your only set of car keys in the vehicle—especially when it’s still running—can make a perfect road trip into something from National Lampoon’s Family Vacation. 

Wet Wipes & Paper Towel

If you have kids—and a dog—you’ll pack these items before anything else. They’re mandatory items for car trips longer then 20 minutes.

Car Charger

A cheap car charger can save the day—or at least brighten up the mood of my daughter when her iPod dies halfway through building a giant castle in MineCraft.

A Change of Clothes

Pack a complete set of extra clothes. They’re handy for unexpected stops on the way or, even better, something fresh to change into on the way home.