Camping Organization: How To Stay Clean & Organized Throughout Your Entire Trip

Don’t we all need camping tips that reduce stress and increase relaxation?
Utilizing these camping organization tips will enhance your outdoor experiences enormously. Wasting time looking for gear that is scattered around a cluttered and unorganized campsite can take the fun out of camping.

In addition to squandering time, cluttered camping is mentally stressful and just being in that environment can be emotionally overwhelming … so … let’s fix that!

Organized Camping With Camping Organization Ideas For How To Stay Clean And Organized Throughout Your Entire Trip by CampingForFoodies features a retro Shasta camper with a white and light green color scheme at two camp chairs neatly arranged on an outdoor carpet in front of the door with a cloth-covered picnic table in the background under a blue sky and scenic red rocks in the background at a beautiful campsite with text over the image that reads organized camping.

Psst we’re compensated…see our disclosures.

Start Your Trip By Being Organized

You can’t “STAY ORGANIZED” if you don’t “START ORGANIZED” on your camp trips! Here are 4 tips to get you on track.

1. Use A Checklist

Make sure you have all of the camping gear you need to pack before you start the process of loading your stuff. Use a comprehensive camping checklist to ensure you have every item you’ll need for your trip. This is especially important if you are taking your first camping trip of the season.

This is my master list that I modify into a more detailed list for our not-so-ordinary trips … like when we are going to a place where we need extra cash for deposits on rental equipment like wave runners and fishing boats.

2. Learn To Pack Minimal Gear

The more stuff you carry, the harder it is to keep everything organized during your trips. I’ve shared simple camping tips to help you determine how to reduce the amount of stuff you need to take on your trips based on your personal preferences.

If you have a minimal gear mindset, you can go last minute camping whenever the opportunity presents itself.

3. Efficient Campsite Arrangement

Staying organized is much easier if your site has the proper layout. Use these tips for setting up campsites that promote a smart and organized experience.

4. Organizing RVs

It seems that RVers have a difficult time “staying small” if they have an RV with more storage than they need. It’s hard to resist filling storage spaces if they are just sitting there empty. There is a better way!

My personal experience has proven I need to fight the urge to fill empty spaces just because they exist. I only use as much space as I need because eventually there will be some important thing I need to bring on a trip … by not over-stuffing a small space I have as much room as I need when it is time to expand.

I have shared some of my favorite camping storage ideas for keeping RV spaces free of clutter. One of my camping hacks for RVing is to create more storage space by adding a pull-out drawer and stacking shelf inside an RV cabinet, you can see how I did it in the post.

Even though I love cooking, I have found a way to organize my RV kitchen accessories so I am able to carry everything I need for making great meals.

Create A Camping Organization System

If you are a person who likes systems and rules … that is a great thing, this will be easy for you. If you resist structure and order … please, hear me out.

A simple system is all you need to reap the benefits of an organized and stress-free camping experience.

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7 Rules To Keep Your Campsite Clean & Organized

I recommend you establish rules that everyone understands and agrees to follow. I hear from so many mothers who say the entire family has fun while they stress-out about doing all the preparation, packing, cooking and cleaning on camping trips.

If everyone pulls their own weight, each person (including moms) at the campsite can enjoy the trip!

Rule #1. Cleaning Schedule & Prompt Cleanup

It is easier to clean up after each mess than it is to let things build up to become an overwhelming chore. You gotta do it now, or do it later … if you get it over with, you can enjoy the feeling of a clean campsite.

Keep up with dirty dishes … it is no fun facing a mound of stinky, dirty dishes with stuck-on food. At our campsite we share this task. Usually one group does the meal prep and cooking while the other group does the cleanup.

Each night before going to bed, tidy up the campsite. It should be easy if you are promptly cleaning during your trip. You want that “so good to be out here” feeling when you wake up the next morning … not that “what a mess I have to clean up” feeling the morning after a big party.

Plastic bags are important for garbage … if you have trash bags located near your cooking and eating areas, you will save yourself lots of time and effort later.

Rule #2. You Mess, You Clean

All campers are responsible to clean up after themselves … period. That doesn’t mean you can leave a mess until departure day … you clean as you go. Remember rule #1?

Rule #3. Put It Back

Randomness is not good … intentionality is your best friend. After you use an item, you should put it back where it belongs … the sooner the better. Then, the next time someone looks for that item, they’ll find it quickly.

Rule #4. Make Your Bed Every Morning

It makes you feel good to start the day organized and clean so when you hop out of bed, take an extra minute to make it … just like you do at home.

Rule #5. Store Dirty Laundry

Put your dirty laundry into some sort of collapsible bag. They take up minimal space when they are empty and expand as you fill them up.

Rule #6. No Shoes Allowed

You don’t have to clean it … if it doesn’t get dirty in the first place! If tents and RVs are “no shoe zones” they will stay much cleaner throughout your trips … without any work! Use slip-on shoes around camp … the easier it is to comply with a rule, the more likely it will be followed.

I like to make sure our slip-ons are waterproof too.

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Rule #7. Clear Picnic Table

Keep your picnic table clear for eating and playing games. If you stack it with stuff, you have to move all of it when you want to use the table for its intended purpose.

The Theory Of Camping Organization Ideas

If you think about why you are doing something, it is easier to form a plan on how to accomplish your goal.

Use a copy of my FREE printable camping trip planner template as you consider your strategy to organize your next camping trip.

Pack With Purpose

Don’t just mindlessly throw stuff into a pile for packing. Think about things like…

  • What activities do you have planned?
  • What gear and clothing do you need for those activities?
  • How many meals are you preparing and how many people are you feeding?
  • What food, cooking equipment and cooking fuel do you need for your meals?

Packing In Order

Don’t make yourself dig for stuff you need to set up camp. Remember FILO: First in, Last out. You can bury the gear you won’t need until later in the trip … but … make sure the last thing you load is the first thing you need to unload.

  • For tent campers that probably will be tarps, tents, tent stakes and sleeping bags.
  • For RVers that usually will be levelers, chocks and stabilizers.

Dedicated Storage Areas

Organization experts will tell you the key to organizing any space is to have a system and everything must have a spot. You can’t just cram all of your stuff into a big storage unit and expect to find it easily. You should have storage space assignments for people and their personal items … and … storage space assignments for gear.

Clean Clothes

Pack “outfits” for your trips. You shouldn’t have to dig through a pile of t-shirts just to find a pair of shorts. If you pack entire outfits together you just pick the pile for the day and get dressed. Your “outfits” should contain a top, bottom, underwear and socks … every item you will need for that day.

  • If you are car camping, backpacking or tent camping, you may want to roll your outfits rather than folding or hanging them. The outfits will be easier to find, will stay grouped together if you use duffel bags, and take up less space. It is best if campers have their own bags for their personal stuff. If each person’s bag is a unique color, they are easier to identify.
  • If you are RV camping, the perfect camping storage idea will be different based on the style of the rig. Each person should have their own part of RV drawers and closets for folded and hung clothing.

Emergency Items

Make sure everyone knows where the first aid kit and emergency gear is located. Pack it in an easily accessible location during travel and at the campsite. There is no sicker feeling than needing a fire extinguisher and not knowing where it is packed!

Electronic Gear

All those charging cords need to stay with their electronic devices. It is a good idea to keep everything stored in one place in a waterproof container.

Frequently Used Items

Store frequently used items within easy reach so campers can quickly find them AND put them back when they are finished using them.

Big Piles vs Small Groups Of Labeled Gear

Keep gear organized and labeled with “like things together” … Don’t just haphazardly throw stuff into boxes. Using small clear bins for little camping items keeps them upright, easy to see and organized instead of a big pile of stuff you have to dig through to find what you are looking for.

Vehicle Storage

If you are staying at your campsite for your entire trip or using alternative modes of transportation during your trip, your main vehicle can be used for easy storage. This is where I keep our dirty laundry bag and pet carriers. This frees up space inside our RV or tent (whichever we are using on that particular trip) as well as keeping our campsite clean.

Last Night At Camp

The best way to make departure day really simple is by cleaning and packing all of the gear you are no longer using during your trip.

Let’s say the morning of your departure you are making a quick breakfast that requires no cooking, like my Fruit And Nut Peanut Butter Stuffed Tortilla … the night before, you should have all of your Dutch oven and camp stove gear cleaned and packed.

You won’t need your shade awning after the sun goes down either. If you clean and pack all of the gear you are done using on that particular trip, the final cleanup on departure day is fast and easy.

After-Trip Assessment

As you try to have more organized camping trips, take some time to evaluate how you did at the end of the trip. If there is gear that you didn’t use, you may not need it on your next trip. This allows you to only pack the right gear and avoid taking stuff that is not needed.

Remember, less stuff = easier organization!

More Tips On Keeping A Clean & Organized Campsite

  • You won’t have to spend a long time looking for items that are neatly stored in plain sight. A clear plastic bin allows you to see things easily without having to dig through a bunch of stuff. This is a great way to store kitchen items you need to see during food prep and throughout the cooking process.
  • Keeping like items together only makes sense. When you use your camp stove you will need kitchen utensils at the same time. If you are planning car camping trips, you’ll want to have a camp kitchen gear box so when you are setting up, you can quickly establish a kitchen area and place all of the kitchen-related items together.
  • Small utility items can make a mess in a hurry. You’ll want appropriately sized storage containers for things like bungee cords and duct tape.
  • Find a dry place to store your outside gear. Dry bags are awesome for keeping clean clothes dry when you’re tent camping in wet conditions or near bodies of water.
  • It is a good idea to create a new storage area for small things, like car keys, by placing hooks on the inside panel of cabinet doors or RV walls immediately inside the entrance door.
  • If your camp chairs have a duffle bag for storage, when you set up camp just tie the bag to the tubing on the back side of the chair for safe keeping. Then it is readily available when you are ready to tear-down camp and pack your chair for transportation back home.
  • Use refillable water bottles to reduce the clutter and waste from individual ones.
  • When you are feeding a large group use paper plates to avoid washing dishes.
  • Buy family size bags of snacks to reduce the clutter and waste from individual servings.
  • Don’t go to a thrift store to buy your storage containers, the extra cost of buying new containers that are the perfect size, shape and material will pay off in the long run.
  • Use my tips on how to pack a cooler for maximum efficiency. Then, one of the first things you should do when you get to your campsite is find a great place to store it out of direct sunlight.
  • If you are going on a short camping trip during a time of fire restrictions and know you can’t use any open flame, the last thing you want to do is pack charcoal, campfire grills, firewood etc. You’ll spend a lot of time loading things and just as much time unloading them when you get home. I wrote a great article with tips on camping without fire after making the mistake of going to the grocery store and buying food I was going to prepare over a campfire … but couldn’t!

A few popular car camping organization hacks include…

  • Hang a shoe organizer from a tree limb to store things like bug spray and smaller items that may get easily lost in a sea of gear.
  • Store toilet paper in an empty coffee can with a lid to keep it dry when camping in the rain.
  • Hang paper towels from a tree branch using a wire clothes hanger for easy access.
  • Use shelving units with removable plastic drawers for dry food storage.
  • Use collapsible storage bins that can be easily stored when not in use.

Leave It Better Than You Found It

Keeping a clean campsite is great for you and the campers who will use that space after you leave. It is the camping world’s duty to continue the stewardship of the public lands in the United States. Let’s all carry on what the Civilian Conservation Corps started so many years ago. If we make sure this year is better than last year and the next year is even better, we will preserve these beautiful outdoor spaces for generations to come.

Organizing Camp Meals

Well-planned meals are another way to keep your camping trips organized.

Use my Camping Menu Template (it is a FREE printable camp meal planner) to help with that task.

And, if you need recipe ideas, I’ve got you covered!

If you’re looking for awesome ideas for yummy camping food, you’re in the right place! Here’s our entire camping recipes list.

Get FREE camping tips and meal ideas emailed to you!

What do you think?

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