Everyone can use a few camping tips for busy camp holidays!
If you are planning a Labor Day camping adventure, here are a few things you need to consider.
The holiday weekend is the last big camping weekend for the summer … which means … campgrounds and recreational facilities are busy!
Do a little extra planning with our tips on travel, lodging and food to ensure your holiday weekend camping trip is fun-filled and stress-free!
Psst we’re compensated…see our disclosures.
- 1 Planning Tips For Labor Day Camping
- 1.1 As Far In Advance As Possible
- 1.2 The Evening Prior To Your Trip
- 1.2.1 8. Check your travel route for traffic & construction delays and road closures.
- 1.2.2 9. Update your electronic maps and navigation devices.
- 1.2.3 10. Place a paper map in your vehicle.
- 1.2.4 11. Load extra fuel.
- 1.2.5 12. Check the weather forecast along your route and at your destination.
- 1.2.6 13. Pick up your perishable groceries.
- 1.3 The Morning Of Your Departure
- 2 Backup Planning Tips
- 3 Don’t Forget The Reason For The Holiday
- 4 More Awesome Recipes
Planning Tips For Labor Day Camping
Make it simple by planning early!
- Make your camping reservations
- Prepare your vehicle
- Check for fire restrictions
- Plan your menu
- Create your grocery list
- Pack your clothes
- Shop and pack your non-perishable grocery items
- Night before departure final items
- Lock, load and go
- Backup planning tips
Using our FREE printable camping trip planner template will help you stay organized!
As Far In Advance As Possible
1. Make your camping reservations.
Make your camping reservations as far in advance of your Labor Day camping weekend trip as possible.
If you need help deciding where to go, take advantage of the best camping apps that are totally FREE with information on every aspect of your trips.
Print a hard copy of your reservations and directions and keep the documents organized in a document case in your vehicle.
If you are camping in an RV and will be traveling along unfamiliar roads … make sure they are RV safe routes during your trip planning process.
If your trip is taking you to a busy National Park and you don’t enjoy being in a sea of humanity, you’ll love our 12 Tips To Avoid Crowds In National Parks So You Don’t Go Crazy! … you are welcome! LOL
2. Prepare your vehicle.
Get your vehicle ready for travel.
Make sure you have a basic roadside emergency and first aid kit easily accessible in your vehicle.
You don’t want to have to unpack your entire trunk in order to get to your first aid kit in the event of an emergency.
There is always lots of extra traffic on the road as people take advantage of the long holiday weekend.
More vehicles mean more potential for roadside emergencies so it is good to be prepared.
Heavy Duty Car Roadside Emergency Kit
If you are camping in an RV, grab a copy of our FREE printable RV tool kit checklist too.
3. Check for fire restrictions.
If the weather conditions are dry at all, on big holiday camping weekends officials would rather be safe than sorry when it comes to preventing wildfires.
You may encounter locations where open fires are prohibited and restrictions have been activated.
We have tips to help you plan the perfect trip when camping without fire.
Make sure you check for fire restrictions BEFORE planning your Labor Day camping weekend menu.
I recommend easy grill recipes for camping because you can use campfires, charcoal or propane grills as a heat source.
Then you won’t be forced into last-minute changes if fire-restrictions are activated.
The other cool thing about using this type of cooking equipment is that you can refill camping propane tanks.
Cooking, eating and hanging out with friends and family is a big part of celebrating the holiday weekend.
Grilling is the most popular cooking method but for many campers, cooking over a fire making Dutch oven camping recipes is preferred.
No matter what type of cooking you want to include, we have over 50 Labor Day holiday recipes to help you with your menu planning!
5. Create your grocery list.
I’m always in the “dog house” when I forget condiments.
My husband’s favorite is hot sauce … he goes through bottles of it during a long camp weekend!
Whatever you do … don’t forget to add the s’mores to your camping weekend menu plan!
The end of summer big camping bash would not be complete if you didn’t try at least one of our yummy 10 mouth-watering smores variations!
6. Pack your clothes and gear.
Pack your clothes and gear based on the activities you have planned for your weekend.
If a hike is in your plans, be sure to pack your boots (or shoes) according to the type of trail you will be hiking.
Wearing the appropriate gear is just one of our tips on camping safety!
7. Shop and pack non-perishable grocery items.
If you shop and pack your non-perishable food as early as possible, you are less likely to forget an item for your trip.
Then, you only need to pick up a small list of perishable items at the last minute.
The Evening Prior To Your Trip
On the night before your trip, these are the departure final items you’ll want to complete.
8. Check your travel route for traffic & construction delays and road closures.
The night before you leave for your trip, check your route for traffic, construction and closures.
My favorite resource for this is the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Traffic and Road Closure Information website and phone information line you can access by just dialing the number 511.
It also provides cautions regarding risk of grounding, lateral wind, narrow road, sharp curve, steep hill and state borders.
10. Place a paper map in your vehicle.
Be sure to carry a map in your vehicle in case you have to divert from your planned route.
In addition to having high-tech navigation capabilities, I like having an old-fashioned road atlas that provides easy-to-read maps, city insets and National Park Maps.
I also jot notes on the maps for reference on future trips.
Rand McNally Large Scale Road Atlas
Mountain temperatures really begin to drop in the autumn … so, many families consider the camping Labor Day weekend to be the end of the “bear country camping” season.
If you are heading to one of those locations, we have helpful tips for camping in bear country.
11. Load extra fuel.
We like to fuel up the night before our departure so we can hit the ground running on the busy holiday weekend.
In addition to filling our vehicle, we carry an extra gasoline can or two especially if our campsite is located in a more remote area, like our favorite National Forest which is quite a distance from the nearest gas station.
No-Spill 5-Gallon Poly Gas Can (CARB Compliant)
12. Check the weather forecast along your route and at your destination.
It’s a good idea to check the forecast for your entire travel route the night before your departure.
If you need to adjust timing or routing, you have time to plan for that rather than trying to do it behind the wheel as you drive!
A sports watch with an altimeter, barometer, chronograph, compass and weather forecasting capabilities is a fun gadget too!
Sports Watch With Altimeter, Barometer, Compass And Weather Indicator
Depending on where you will be camping, you may need to deal with rain.
We live in Arizona which means monsoon season is inevitably part of our Labor Day camping trips.
We have made a ton of mistakes (the bad news) … but we learned A LOT (the good news) about camping in the rain and we created a blog post to share tips for camping in the rain!
13. Pick up your perishable groceries.
Pick up the perishables from the grocery store the night before your departure … and don’t forget the ice!
We like to keep one cooler designated for “beverages only” and top it with ice which is just one of our tips on how to keep drinks cold when camping.
There is nothing better than arriving at your camping destination and opening a cooler filled with ice-cold beverages as you are setting up camp!
Coleman 100 Quart Wheeled Ice Chest
Understanding how to handle food safely will keep your friends and family happily camping … versus the alternative of being stuck in the nearest emergency room with food poisoning.
Check out these important camping food safety tips and enjoy your food without worries!
The Morning Of Your Departure
14. Lock, Load And Go!
- Load final items into your vehicle
- Lock your home
- Leave contact information for your house-sitter
- Go … Enjoy your long camping weekend!
We load our last-minute items; we also have a “designated locker” so one person is responsible to verify our home’s doors and windows are locked, the coffee pot is off and our home alarm is set.
We also leave instructions for our house-sitter regarding our campsite location along with contact numbers.
It’s a routine that puts us at ease when we are escaping city life for a few days!
Retro Camper Keychain And Key Fob Strap
What happens when you are halfway to your camping destination and you realize you forgot to pack the games?
You panic! Not really!
You just click over to our 10 fun activities and campfire games for totally fun options that don’t require anything but happy campers and a competitive spirit!
Don’t miss Campfire Activity #6 – Camping For Foodies Super Hero Camper Game.
Share your story with us and if we publish it on CampingForFoodies.com we’ll send you one of our cool camping products as a gift!
Backup Planning Tips
Because Labor Day weekend is the big end-of-summer holiday weekend, many campgrounds are booked solid.
What Are Walk-Up Only Campsites
Many public land campgrounds have campsites that can’t be reserved in advance. A three-day weekend is the perfect opportunity to experience these types of camping options. You can find these campgrounds all across north America. It can be a little nerve wracking when you try to get a spot the first time if you are used to having confirmed reservations.
Each location operates a little differently but generally you can find individual tent sites and RV sites as well as larger sites that can accommodate a whole group of campers. Sites usually have picnic areas and fire rings … but water, waste and electric sites are not as common.
These places may or may not have campground hosts and you should be prepare to use a self-pay station that only accepts cash.
The amenities vary based on the geographic location. Those with freshwater lake or ocean access may have rental opportunities in the boat launch area so campers can experience water activities in small boats or other motorized watercraft.
Outdoor experiences will usually include nature trails whether they are located in open meadows, sand dunes, coastal forests or mountain forests.
We’ve got 7 Tips For Getting The Best Walk-Up Only Campsites!
Last Minute Camping Tips
My husband’s work schedule requires us to do most of our camping on a spur-of-the-moment basis which is really hard for me personally because I am a planner and like things to be organized.
I have learned to be spontaneous and embrace last minute camping out of necessity! LOL
Camping In National Forests
No campsites? No problem … Go Dispersed!
We do most of our camping in National Forests where no reservations are required … the cool thing is that we just show up when we can … drive till we find an open spot … and … set up camp for the weekend.
There are plenty of ways to experience mother nature when you are off the beaten path in the great outdoors.
You won’t find camp hosts when you are in the dispersed camping areas but you might occasionally run into a ranger.
A forest is a great place to celebrate the unofficial end of summer.
There is no such thing as a “best time to arrive” because campers are coming and going at their leisure. Seriously, where else can you arrive on a Saturday night with your sleeping bag and plop down to relax under a canopy of twinkling stars?
If you have never done it before, don’t just head out there … we have a better way!
There are rules you need to know in order to have the best stay possible. Because it is so popular to go camping on Labor Day weekend, many of the parks and campgrounds are filled to capacity which is no problem if you know how to LEGALLY go camping in National Forests!
What Is Boondocking & How Do You Do It?
If the campgrounds are booked, don’t give up, just go dispersed camping (aka boondocking or dry camping). It’s easier than you might think.
When you just can’t find a campground with a vacancy, you can always try to find a free camping spot instead of settling to “just go camping at a later time”.
You need to be FULLY SELF-CONTAINED so you’ll be hauling your own water, trash, power etc. We limit our water use when we’re hauling our own … hand sanitizers will become your best friend out in the wild! LOL
Free camping is a great way to avoid the additional cost of campsite fees but you’ll be doing a bit more work as a result.
We have a TON of information … including how-to videos and tips on boondocking off-the-grid!
Campsite Security For The Busy Holiday
Thieves like busy campsites because they can get lost in the crowds.
Unfortunately, holiday weekends may invite unwanted activity so we have a few tips on camping security.
We’ve found an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure with these quick and simple security ideas that will keep your camping trip FUN-FILLED and STRESS-FREE!!!
Private Campground Cancellations
Searching out cancelled reservations is always an option.
If you are looking for a more festive atmosphere to celebrate your last trip at the end of the summer camping season, an ideal place may just be a KOA patio!
You can find these privately-owned popular campgrounds all across the United States.
They are popular places to spend long weekends because of the variety of options available for different types of campers. You don’t even need to have your own equipment!
In addition to traditional RV and tent camping, you can find other lodging choices at KOA’s including cabin camping, glamping and KOA Patio Sites that have a private patio space with outdoor seating areas and fire pits … some even have outdoor grills!
They make it really easy for the whole family to enjoy KOA holidays. You can find stay information on the KOA website.
In addition to move-in-ready rental cabins and well-appointed campsites, this type of camping appeals to people who want a full schedule of activities like scavenger hunts and live bands, roundtrip shuttle service to local areas, on-site outdoor activities like tennis courts and beach volleyball courts as well as nearby or on-property convenience stores.
There are additional campgrounds and RV parks that offer this type of experience. Even state parks are getting into the game offering deluxe cabins with full baths.
So, if this is the type of excursion you really want, you’ll need to get on waiting lists and hope for a cancellation for a busy holiday weekend.
Don’t Forget The Reason For The Holiday
A U.S. holiday, Labor Day is celebrated every year on the first Monday in September.
It honors the American workers’ social and economic achievements providing the country with strength, prosperity and well-being.
Congress passed an act making it a national legal holiday in 1894 on June 28.
More about the holiday from the United States Department of Labor
A lot has changed since 1894
We have expanded how the holiday is celebrated today. Some of the most popular activities include:
- Retail sales: Labor Day has become one of the largest retail sales dates of the year. Some retailers report this as the second largest sales date of the year (Black Friday of the Christmas season being the first.)
- Wearing white: For years many fashion-conscious types considered Labor Day to be the end of summer and the last day to wear white.
- Sports: Loads of sporting events are associated with Labor Day…it is the beginning of the season for the NFL and NCAA college football. NASCAR events and the U.S. Open Tennis Championships are in full swing.
- Hit the books: After the summer break, many school districts start classes around the Labor Day holiday weekend.
- Fire up the grill: As the grilling season comes to a close for most of the United States, backyard BBQs are a traditional way to celebrate the Labor Day holiday.
- Escape with a camp trip: As the final 3-day holiday weekend of the summer, many outdoor enthusiasts take advantage of the extended weekend with a camping trip filled with campfires, hikes, camping food and a little rest and relaxation.