May Long weekend is a big deal across Canada, but nowhere more so than in Ontario. It unofficially marks a change in season, when the most populace province in the nation simultaneously shakes off the remaining winter frost from the tarps and tents and heads out to their favourite camping spot for the first time of the year.

Whether you drive a sedan like the Accord, an SUV like the Pilot or a minivan like the Odyssey (or any other car, for that matter), there’s no reason why you shouldn’t get in on the action. Here are 10 tips for car camping.

Sleeping arrangements

The truth of the matter is that, unless you drive an RV, your vehicle probably wasn’t meant to be slept in. The solution is the same as it’s been for ages: a tent. Of course, there are some cool add-ons that incorporate the vehicle’s interior space, like this option from Honda. Don’t forget a mattress (inflatable works well for space) to sleep on. Pictured: Honda Tent ($631)


Pitch the site in your living room or backyard beforehand

A dry run never hurt anyone. Get any kinks out of your setup before you load it into the trunk and set off into the hills. Pitch the tent, unfold and/or inspect any old equipment that’s been gathering dust for the last 8 months, layout kitchen gear and things like lights and blankets to make sure you’ve got everything you need.

Pack for the worst

Mother Nature doesn’t check the same weather app we do, so it’s best to prepare for things to get cold and/or wet. OK, so you can go overboard with this—you probably won’t need the minus-40-degree sleeping bag, but you will want some extra layers of clothing at the the very least, just in case.

Upgrade the storage

No matter how good you are at packing, cargo space is a limited resource. A roof rack is like a backpack for your car, and might be what you need to get all that outdoor adventure gear to the site. Pictured: Roof Rack Box, Medium ($896)


Book a spot or scout ahead

The early bird gets the worm, especially on popular long weekends. Book in advance, or if you’re going off the grid to a free site, make sure it’s available and hasn’t been destroyed by an ice storm over the winter.

Bikes on the back

Bikes give you mobility without having to pack up the whole kit and caboodle, but you don’t want to have to give up that valuable cargo space to bring them along. So, strap ‘em to the back! Pictured: Bike Attachment – Trailer Hitch Mount for Honda Pilot ($393)


Portable plumbing

No sink or shower? No problem. This pressurized pump shower makes personal hygiene and dish doing significantly easier, and is super small and light, making it easy to pack around.


Consider the environment

There’s an old rule that all good campers adhere to: you always try to leave no trace of your presence. This means that whatever you bring in, you take out. Garbage, recycling, food, everything. Also, you’ll probably want to wash up right next to the tent and car, so be prepared with an environmentally friendly soap that won’t harm the environment.

Make a meal plan and cook like you do at home

With so many awesome camping cooking options, there’s no reason to be stuck with nothing but hotdogs and sunflower seeds while you camp. Plan your meals in advance and invest in a small, simple and safe portable stove so you never have to pick ash out of your morning porridge ever again.


Arrive early

You have only to watch any camping movie ever to know that you don’t want to be pitching the tent in the dark. That’s a recipe for a family meltdown. Arrive in daylight if at all possible and get setup so you can enjoy the sunset, rather than trying to race it.

Where are you camping this year? Here’s a list of our favourite spots near the GTA. Tell us your favourite camping spot in the comments on via social media.