Camping has long been one of the world's most popular recreational activities, with an estimated 33.7 million campers in the U.S. alone [source: Sutter]. Camping has become even more popular in the wake of global economic difficulty, with recent increases in National Park visits and tent sales [sources: Sutter and OIA]. The American way of camping -- taking a trip by car and spending a few days in natural surroundings, sleeping in a tent or trailer -- was popularized by Henry Ford and his group of fellow travelers. Calling themselves "The Vagabonds," the group included Harvey Firestone, Thomas Edison, and other luminaries of the early 20th century [source: Henry Ford Estate]. Their adventures were closely followed by the media of the day, helping instill a love for weekend adventure in many American families.
Getting organized for a camping trip can be a daunting task -- especially if it's your first time. There's a lot to pack, and if you don't pack correctly you'll end up missing crucial items, overloading your car, or damaging your gear. How can you remember everything you need, fit it all in your car, avoid going over the weight limit on your trailer -- and avoid driving yourself crazy so you can still have fun on your trip? It just takes a little preparation and planning. These five tips will help you get organized so that even the biggest camping trip goes smoothly.