Camping Memorial Day weekend may be less traditional than parades or picnics, but we think it’s a perfect way to spend the long weekend. Fun, festive, and still filled with delicious food, a well-planned camping trip can be ideal whether you want to gather with friends and family or enjoy some peace and quiet. With the Memorial Day camping tips below, you can make the most of the holiday weekend in the great outdoors.

Make a Reservation

Don’t wait until the last minute to decide what to do Memorial Day weekend! This holiday weekend is one of the busiest times of the year for campgrounds, so for many popular spots, you’ll need to book ahead of time—and this year, we’d recommend way, way ahead of time, as many families are sticking with outdoor activities.

…But Don’t Panic If You Didn’t

Even if you didn’t plan ahead, you can still get your camping fix! Try looking for a more rustic park or smaller forest near you. These options are great for those who can do with fewer amenities (or with none at all, if you’re an experienced car camper), and some may not even require advance reservations.

But if your heart is simply set on a spot that’s booked, try giving them a call to see if there’s a waitlist you can join if another family cancels at the last minute.

Pack to Relax

There’s a time for packing light, but in our opinion, holiday weekends aren’t it. Make your checklist starting with the essentials, and then add the “nice-to-have” items that will make your weekend more enjoyable. In our view, a comfortable chair belongs in the first category—don’t let your trip be dampened by a wobbly or unsupportive chair, or the aches and pains it can cause. Instead, a soft-arm outdoor rocker can give you the most bang for your buck—or, in this case, extreme comfort without extreme bulk, weight, or cost.

Memorial Day weekend is all about relaxing...and the Kickback Rocker gets you there in no time.

Consider the activities you (and your camping mates) enjoy, and be realistic with your vision for the trip—novices probably aren’t going to break into mountain biking over the long weekend. If your group will include children, you might be better off packing board games than books. And if you know low-key gatherings are always a hit, make room for the regulation-size cornhole boards!

Get on the Road Early

Just the phrase “Memorial Day weekend” conjures up the smell of burgers on the grill, the sounds of an approaching parade—and traffic. So, so much traffic. To keep your weekend stress-free, find out the earliest you can arrive at your campsite, and plan to get there as early as possible; you might even see if an early check-in is available for an extra fee. If you’re traveling a long distance or if your campsite doesn’t take reservations, you may want to arrive in the general area early, and hang out locally—get a big breakfast or see an early matinee—before check-in time. If arriving early isn’t feasible, you could plan a longer, scenic route (avoiding major highways) to your campsite.

While these strategies do entail planning ahead, packing the car the night before, and waking up early, you’ll be able to kick off your weekend without the hassle of traffic jams. And you might be glad to have those extra daylight hours at your campsite, particularly if it’s your first camping trip of the season—there will be no rush to set up before it gets dark, and you’ll have plenty of time to deal with any hitches that arise.

Keep Meals Simple

Serving up perfect burgers—with minimal mess—thanks to the Slim-Fold Cook Station

It’s hard to beat the classics, and that includes Memorial Day picnic foods! Hamburgers and hotdogs are extra special when cooked outdoors; and once you’ve grilled corn on the cob, you’ll never want it cooked any other way again. For dessert, there’s no need to fuss—campfire s’mores are a universal crowd-pleaser, while scoops of strawberries and blueberries with whipped topping make a fresh, flag-inspired treat!

Regardless of your recipes or the size of your group, a clean, organized camp kitchen can help control the chaos. The Slim-Fold Cook Station™ features a heat-resistant tabletop, fold out storage shelves, and even a paper towel holder. Keep it set up all weekend as your cooking command center, or if space is tight, simply fold it down between meals—the one-piece design makes it easy.

Make It Festive

While the great outdoors is beautiful on its own, some red, white, and blue decorations can be a fun addition to your campsite, making your weekend feel more festive. A simple flag bunting or banner is easy to hang, and won’t take up valuable room in your vehicle.