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3 Days left in Camping Month! Did you know that June is Camping Month? Have you gone camping yet?

We went over our backpacking essentials last week, and this week we’re going to show you our car camping essentials. The nice thing about car camping is that you can bring as much as you want (as long as it fits in your car), because most of the time you can pull up right next to your campsite. This allows for more comfort and luxuries, and since you’re not looking for the lightest, most compact gear, you can usually spend way less on your equipment!

15 Car Camping Essentials for the Practical Traveler.


1. Sleeping Bag

We bought really warm and light sleeping bags for backpacking. The ones we currently have are no longer sold, but here’s the updated version of ours. If you never intend to backpack, since weight won’t be a big issue, these sleeping bags are really nice and well rated at a much more reasonable price.

Pro Tip: For you couples out there who like to cuddle, you could even pick up a double sleeper!

2. Inflatable Mattress

Regardless of how comfortable your sleeping bag and mat is, if you’re sleeping right on the ground, it will still be cold! Rather than getting a sleeping pad, you can pick up an air mattress to make your tent really comfortable. This is the air mattress we use.

Pro Tip: Don’t forget to bring an extension cable and power adapter, so you can fill it up with your car.

3. Tent

As much as we love our backpacking tent, it’s far from ideal for car camping. We can’t even bring our backpacks in with us, since the tent is so small. For car camping, we picked up this cheaper 4-person tent so that we could fit our inflatable queen mattress!

Pro Tip: Get a tent that’s a size or two larger to get plenty of space. Our 4-person tent fits our queen inflatable mattress, our two backpacks, and then some.

4. Daypack

You don’t really need a large backpack for car camping, but it’s nice to have a small one if you go out for a hike. We love using our REI Flash 18 Pack for day hikes and short excursions.

Pro Tip: Backpacks need to fit your build and body type. This is the only item I would not recommend you buy online. You need to try them on in person. The people at REI are great at instructing you how to find the right backpack and pack it properly.

5. Water

We love using our Platypus SoftBottle Water Bottles because they roll up once we’re done with them. We always have a few spare for friends. In case we need to filter water, we also have the GRAYL Water Filtration Cup. It works similar to a french press so you don’t have to pump, squeeze, or wait. And they have different filtration levels depending on what you need.

Pro Tip: If you’re like me and don’t like the taste of water, bring some powerade drops to add flavor! If you’ve ever seen idiocracy.. I am the doomed future. Go electrolytes!

6. Food

15 Car Camping Essentials for the Practical Traveler.

When we go car camping, if we’re not eating out at a local restaurant, we usually do a hearty eggs and bacon breakfast and eat our favorite Lasagna Mountain House or Shin cup ramen for dinners. We also bring our fave road trip snacks, s’mores, and brown bears!

Pro Tip: If you don’t want to go looking for sticks in nature, don’t forget to bring reusable smores sticks.

7. Stove & Cookware

We use this Jetboil to make our Mountain House meals and instant noodles, since it boils water quickly!  If you plan on cooking more, you’ll need different cookware. We’ve also gone camping with friends who have brought their full stoves, which makes it nicer when you’re cooking for bigger groups.

Pro Tip: If you have to have your morning coffee, we just started using an AeroPress at home, but it actually pairs perfectly with the Jetboil while camping too! We can’t wait to use it on our next trip!

8. Illumination (Headlamp / Flashlight)

Since I don’t like bugs, I don’t like using a lantern (MOTHS EVERYWHERE!). We typically stick with the campfire light and these headlamps to get to the bathroom or inside the tent.

Pro Tip: If you’re looking into getting a lantern, you can get one that is solar charged and also charges your phone and other USB devices.

9. Knife

A knife is extremely helpful around the campsite. We have yet to add one to our arsenal since we usually camp with friends that have one, but we’re looking into picking one up in the next month. We’ve been debating between a single blade knife and a multi-tool that includes a knife. Do you have any thoughts?

10. First-Aid Supplies

You never know what’s going to happen while you’re outdoors, so be sure to bring along a first-aid kit. This is a great lightweight kit good for 2 people up to 4 days.

Pro Tip: After buying a kit, just refill what you use rather than buying a new one again.

11. Toiletries (Sun Block & Bug Spray)

We carry our toothbrush, a mini tube of toothpaste, and some toilet paper in a Ziploc bag. For all our other liquids (shampoo, body wash, conditioner), we use our our GoToobs, which have been really reliable and have never leaked. Also, don’t forget your sun block (see our recent post about great natural and non-toxic sunblock alternatives) and bug repellent (we prefer the roll on kind)!

Pro Tip: To save space, take out the cardboard portion of the toilet paper and flatten it. You can even just roll up a portion of the toilet paper if you don’t need the whole roll.

12. Camp Chair

A camping chair is essential for sitting around the campsite. We have a larger chair similar to this that we can stowaway in our car. Every time we’ve visited REI, we like to hang out in these smaller and ultra lightweight chairs for a bit, so this might be our next purchase.

13. Rain Shell

Even though the weather may say it will be clear and sunny, it never hurts to be prepared. We really like our Patagonia Torrentshells (men’s & women’s) since they are light and pack away easily. We use them when we travel as well since they don’t take up much space.

Pro Tip: It’s not built to pack this way, but you can stuff the entire jacket into a pocket for easy storage.

14. Fire Starter

One of my favorite things about camping is the smell of a campfire. To light a fire, you need matches or a flint. We’ve used both, but matches are definitely easier out of the two.

Pro Tip: Don’t forget to pick up some wood before getting to your campsite. Sometimes an onsite store will sell them, or you’ll see homes that sell firewood on the way in.

15. Food Storage (Bear Proof Container and Cooler)

Not all camping sites have their own bear proof storage containers, so it’s good to have one on hand. You don’t want to leave your food or even scented hygiene items in the car either, because bears will break into your car. This bear proof cooler is a two-in-one that keeps your perishable food and drinks cold and keeps the bears out! It’s built tough and comes in different sizes. You can also buy the bear canister separately, but make sure it can fit all your food, trash, and anything scented.

15 Car Camping Essentials for the Practical Traveler.
Photo taken a few steps from our campsite. Love views like this! :)

BONUS: Some of our favorite National Parks for Car Camping:

Any car camping essentials we’re missing?
What do you bring with you when you car camp?
Do you prefer car camping or backpacking?

xoxo estherJacob

We’ve done some snorkeling, but haven’t spent much time below the surface of the ocean. To be honest, fish kinda freak me out, especially if there’s a swarm of them coming at me! I’m also not the best swimmer. I tend to clamp down on my snorkel gear from the anxiety, which will give me headaches and jaw aches for days. It’s a work in progress, but one day we will be diving!

While we were in Bali, we had a chance to try helmet diving (some people call it dive walking). It’s a great introduction to exploring below the surface and also great for those who never plan on venturing into the world of scuba diving.

Helmet Diving Indonesia (Bali Things to Do).
Helmet Diving in Bali Indonesia.

Unlike diving, you don’t need any training, and it’s a lot easier to breathe with the Dive Walking helmet than it is with scuba or snorkel gear. The helmet itself reminds me of the classic diving suits (think 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea). You simply pull it over your head and let it rest on your shoulders. Although it’s heavy on land, it gives you the necessary weight to keep you on the sea floor. There’s a pipe at the top that pumps in the air from the boat so you can breathe like normal. After we got everything on, we climbed a ladder to the bottom of the ocean and the fun began!

Bali Water Sports / Bali Things to Do.
Helmet Diving Bali Indonesia.
Helmet Diving Indonesia (Bali Things to Do).
Helmet Diving Indonesia (Bali Activities).
Helmet Diving Indonesia (Bali Activities).

The water was fairly choppy when we visited, and we still felt the sway of the current on the ocean floor. Our guide wrangled us in place and also brought fish food, so that we could attract the fish to us. I had no knowledge of this, and our guide was unaware of my phobia, so at one point I was surrounded when he forced the food in my hands. I even got bit by a tiny, evil fish! I’m telling you, I do not like fish!

Helmet Diving in Bali Indonesia.

I did it!

Helmet Diving Indonesia (Bali Activities).


  • They didn’t teach us this, but going down to the ocean floor can build up a lot of pressure in your ear and head and be painful. Using the valsalva maneuver (closing the mouth, pinching the nose, and trying to breathe out through the nose) was an effective way for me to equalize the pressure.

Besides the last part, it was a fun and unique experience. My favorite part was that I got to cup a tiny nemo in my hands. I’m not sure that I’m eager to try it again anytime soon, but now that we have access to under water housing for our camera, I might have to go just to take photos! Who knows… maybe if we take some scuba diving classes, I will eventually get comfortable under the sea.

What are your favorite water sports?
Have you been snorkeling or diving?

xoxo estherJacob

Hey there! We’d like to welcome you to the Maximize Your Month Linkup where we share our goals and motivate one another to pursue our dreams. We’d love for you to a part of our community so that we can help inspire one another to achieve our goals. Join us by adding a link to your own goals post below.

Can’t believe it’s already been over a month since we moved to San Diego. So far so good. :) It has most of the good parts of LA but with a much more chill vibe. Minus the tacos, the food in LA is still superior, but luckily it’s only a 2-3 hour drive away instead of 5 now. We’ve already gone into LA twice this month and are headed there again tomorrow!

Last month’s highlights on instagram:

Personal Goal Setting Link Up.

See more on our instagram (esthergram & jacobgram).

Last Month

Setting Monthly Goals.

Besides going on all our weekly / alphabet dates and finishing 2 books (paper towns & girl on a train), I haven’t been doing so hot on personal goal setting and keeping up. We visited one beach (La Jolla) and did one hike (the Potato Chip Rock). I will have to make up the others in another month (or another life :/).

Setting Monthly Goals.

Starting this month, instead of 9-10 goals, I want to have one specific goal or habit I’m trying to form each month. For July, I’m going to try to drink a gallon of water every day to see if I look and feel better. I’m sure you’ve already seen this article. I’m just not convinced. If you study many before and after photos, even if they claim not to use photoshop, there’s still a lot you can manipulate by using different lenses, lighting, angles to get the desired results. Can’t fool me! :P

I normally hate drinking water. I don’t doubt that drinking more water is good for me, but I’m curious to see if the results are that visible. If there’s anything my chemistry background has taught me, it’s that if you want to find the truth about an experiment, you have to test it yourself!

Here’s my before (I swear I’m not naked. :P I’m wearing my comfy, tube dress):

Personal Goal Setting

Can’t wait to see the new me in 4 weeks! :)

Mazimize Your Month Link Up #clearthelist

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Have you been drinking enough water?
Do you have any health goals this month?

xoxo esther

Welcome to Lovely Letters, a monthly blogger exchange hosted by Jordan and I, where you can send and receive pen pal letters every month! :) We have over 150 participants in 12 countries, and we try our best to pair you with someone in a different country or at least from a different part of your own. Though you don’t have to participate every month, we highly encourage you to at least meet a few new bloggers.

This month, we’re stretching the swap over 2 months, since many of you have said one month wasn’t enough time to get to know your partner. We will be sending a postcard in July and a package in August.

In June, I was paired with Emily from Em Busy Living who also lives in SoCal (not for much longer!) and loves exploring the area. She’s a roamer like us and has been moving to different cities. She’s headed off to her next adventure soon, and you can follow along. :)

Lovely Letters June & July Pen Pal Letters.

my { SUMMER FUN } package:

one lovely letter
one postcard from a fave summer destination
a summer fridge magnet frame
colorful bag hook
cute hedgehog mitten
notebook to write about summer adventures
travel stamps washi tape (so many things you can do with washi)

Will update you on the package I receive once I get it! :)

Lovely Letters June & July Pen Pal Letters.

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Since everyone is getting their packages at different times, the link up will be open until July 25th.

Dates to remember for July / August’s Snail Mail Swap:

  • Sign ups are open until July 6th midnight PST. You can sign up HERE (FOR BLOGGERS ONLY. If you don’t have a blog, you can always start one!)
  • You will get your snail mail pen pal by the 9th and begin getting to know your partner.
  • Send out your postcard by July 20th.
  • Send out your packages by Aug 20th. Try to stay under the $7 Limit. {Theme: Summer Vacation}
  • Write about your experience and link up on Aug 29th (the last Saturday of the month).

What would you like next month’s theme to be?

xoxo esther