This article appeared in the end of year/summer holidays issue of ‘Caravan & Outdoor Life’ magazine:
There is no need for me to ask you if you have ever left anything behind when you’ve gone camping – every camper has a story to tell, some more than others, I’m sure.
I remember one weekend at Mahai in the Drakensberg, when our youngest daughter left her contact lens solution, lens case and glasses at home. Our son did a quick beg around the camp with a cup until he found a lady who donated a squeeze of solution, thereby saving my daughter from an uncomfortable weekend (campers are good people).
Leaving stuff behind is one of my pet hates; I cannot tell you how much it irks me. I’ll spend the whole holiday mentally kicking myself for not packing the item(s) into the caravan. Out of this slightly obsessive behaviour was born ‘Linda’s Packing List’.
Now, my packing list has been the work of years. It evolved over many trips, until it became part check-list, part inventory of the goods in the caravan. I’m sure you also find equipment often gets ‘borrowed’ from the caravan when guests come or you go on day-trip. It’s so easy for those things to disappear into a corner of the house, and get left behind on the next camping trip. That’s why my packing list is part-inventory, a check that everything is where it should be.
I have set up my list on a spreadsheet, and when we go camping, I print a copy, which lies on the kitchen table and is checked off by those who are packing.
The list is organised into categories:
- Groceries (for the food cupboard)
- Fridge/Cooler boxes (perishables)
- Kitchen Equipment (crockery, preparation, serving utensils)
- Camping Equipment (this is my husbands department: tents, stretchers, chairs, etc)
- Bedding (ever left your pillow? your sleeping bag??)
- Other Linen (tablecloths, dishcloths)
- Cutlery (braai utensils, cork screws, tin opener)
- Cleaning (I have a separate plastic bin for chemicals)
- Clothes (ever left your slops/boots or underwear???)
- Toiletries (the obvious)
- First Aid (including contact lens solution)
- Entertainment (books, board games, cards, camera, etc)
I find it best not to organise the list alphabetically, but rather group items in the way they would be used, or where they are packed. It makes packing and unpacking easier.
The caravan packing list has been so useful to us, that I have now made lists to use when we camp with our tent, not the caravan; another for when we stay at self-catering accommodation, or at a hotel (these are all rare occasions!), and even for when we go to the dam for a braai or picnic.
Yes, you’re right – I have lists of my lists, but hey – at least I (almost) never leave anything behind!