Traveling with a group of friends can be a blast, especially when you’re embarking on your adventure in a campervan, or maybe even two or three. However, it’s also possible to hit some friction points, especially on an extended trip. Here are a few tips and tricks to help you keep vibes positive and times good.
Pick the Right Group
We all know we have fantastic friends who we would never want to go camping with. Whether it’s because they can’t be happy without a certain level of luxury, or they simply have a certain kind of personality that you have to take in small doses, it’s important to pick the right people to go with. This can be a delicate issue, when all of your friends are interconnected, and they are all likely to hear about the camping trip. If you invite Tom, Dick, Jane, and Harry, but not Todd or Douglas, how do you explain that?
This is far easier when they simply aren’t the camping type; they’ll likely understand, and may not even mention it. But if the reason is more that their personality may not mesh well with the group you’re carefully selecting, it can be a bit trickier. Of course, the right approach will vary from friend group to friend group, but kind honesty is always a good guideline. You may have an awkward conversation, but if they’re reasonable, then they’ll understand that not everyone can fit into every group dynamic.
Plan and Pack Cooperatively
It’s important to discuss your trip and to have an idea of what’s expected of everyone. Van camping isn’t the same as going on a cruise together, there will be things that need to be done, and if only one or two people end up doing all the work, they’re likely to feel better. A better way to handle it is to discuss the possibility of everyone having roles; of course, this only has to be as organized and structured as you want it to be, but it can be fun, in a way. It makes you feel a bit like you’re on a team together. For instance, who likes driving the most? Who doesn’t mind doing dishes? You get the idea.
Furthermore, its important to make sure that everyone packs what they actually need, and that all are in agreement on the itinerary, and at least a loose schedule of when things will happen. Again, how loose that schedule is will be a matter of preference, but its a good idea not to leave these things unsaid. It’s generally always better when everyone knows what to expect, even if there’s a strong possibility that that will change due to weather or other factors.
Food is another extremely important area where everyone should plan together, and perhaps even shop together, or at least all contribute financially to the supplies. Make sure everyone’s voice is heard as to what kinds of meals they prefer, and don’t forget plenty of substantial snack food like granola or protein bars, for those long hikes when you don’t make it back to camp for lunch.
Keep Things Organized
This is something we frequently reiterate in our van camping advice, due to the nature of camping in a van with limited space, but it’s even more important with several friends. You might be surprised at how much stuff actually accumulates, so here are a few things you can do to avoid this, and keep things as tidy as possible.
One thing you can do is make sure you aren’t double-packing anything. That means if there’s something that each person doesn’t necessarily need to bring their own of, such as certain toiletry items like toothpaste, or cooking utensils, then make sure that only one person is bringing it, and that that person knows they are the one that is supposed to.
Another thing is to to immediately figure out where various items will go, the moment you get the van. This is worth spending some time on, maybe even as much as half an hour, or forty-five minutes, if necessary. Trust me, it will save you some headaches, in the long run. Make sure everyone is clear about where particular types of items belong.
From there it’s also a matter of not just getting organized, but staying organized. That might mean politely reminding friends sometimes where certain things need to go; hint, usually not lying all over the floor. There are always differences between people’s levels of tidiness, but when camping in a tightly packed van, there’s often not much room for compromise here.
Follow these trips and remember to be patient and kind to one another, and your camping trip is sure to be a blast. Just remember, you’re creating memories together that will last for the rest of your lives, so when Todd neglects to wash his dishes, just take a deep breath, and remember to be kind.