Yin Yin Chan
Southern California, USA
Yin packs her family and camping gear into a tiny VW Golf to go find tranquility outdoors in Western US.
All gear has been rigorously tested by the author. Bonnnfire may receive a portion of sales from products purchased through the links below.
Yin loves being outdoors hiking, camping, and exploring. When she’s not busy wandering around in nature for hours, she enjoys building on the web.
We have all our camping gear organized in stackable, modular containers. Whenever we feel the need to step away from the city, we can easily get going in our little VW Golf. You’d be amazed at how much can fit in this car! We do keep some GIN GINS on hand for those who are motion sick in our family.
To pass the time on our road trips, we have a couple playlists we cycle through. Taylor Swift definitely gets her play time weaved in between lots of 90’s alternative rock.
Our camping must-haves include yummy food and fresh brewed coffee in the morning. This is my favorite way to idle: find a fallen tree stump to sit in the woods with a cup of hot coffee in hand. We have been pretty committed to Groundwork Venice Blend Coffee and drink it every morning. We’d typically bring some that were pre-ground at home, boil water on the MSR PocketRocket stove, and use my Aeropress to make coffee at camp.
At home, we love whipping up quick protein pancakes in the morning, and being out in the woods doesn’t stop us from doing that. We use an Ozark Trail 2 burner stove with a Lodge Cast Iron Reversible Griddle. There’s the flat side for our pancakes and the grill side for burgers and meats later in the day.
PRO TIP: If you don’t have enough table surface for your camp kitchen, gather some tree stumps to use as side tables. It saves you money and space on gear storage, and it’s a great leg day workout if you had to skip the gym to get a head start on your camping road trip.
For my family, camping is a time to idle and reconnect with each other away from regular modern life. This means relaxing time at camp involves a lot of sitting, reading, and exploring.
I’ve had an Ozark Trail camping chair for a number of years now, and it has served me well. My partner has an REI camping chair, which works as it should, but doesn’t really offer more comfort per dollar compared to the Ozark Trail one.
We really enjoy dispersed camping, so we’re typically situated in remote areas undisturbed by the modern world. Being out in the woods in this way really helps reset my nervous system.
Being this secluded also means we’re far from water and facilities. In lieu of a loo, we learned to get comfortable out in nature. In lieu of running water, I got resourceful with my MSR Water Reservoir by hanging it on a tree and turning it into a makeshift faucet. It doubles as a sink for the camp kitchen as well as brushing teeth and keeping up with my nighttime skincare routine 😄.
The best part about camping may be the night sky, so being able to lay in my tent to look out at the stars without bugs bothering me is of high importance. Our Mountain Summit Gear 3-Person Dome Tent has a convenient double zipper for the mesh window, and it does a good job of allowing me to stargaze without the mosquito bites. Despite being a 3 person tent, I’d say it can only comfortably sleep 2 relatively petite bodies.
I’ve also used the Klymit Cross Canyon 4-Person Tent camping with my partner and daughter. It was as quick to set up as our Mountain Summit Gear one and gives ample height to stand up fully inside the tent. It wasn’t as convenient to stargaze with the Klymit tent while settling in for the night (I had to step outside of the tent to close it back up), but it did the job and kept us from the elements.
We go into dispersed tent camping knowing it will not be the best night’s sleep of our lives, so we have to find ways to be as comfortable as possible. We have tried a few different sleeping set ups, and found the combination of REI’s self-inflating sleeping pad and the REI Co-op Trailbreak Foam Pillow gives the most comfort despite sleeping on the ground. Make no mistake, we still know our bodies are on the ground with this set up, but at least it’s a decently padded ground.
Road trip essentials
- Aeropress Go Travel Coffee Press Kit
- MSR PocketRocket 2 Ultralight Camping and Backpacking Stove (Fuel is separate)
- YETI Rambler 10 oz Stackable Mug
- Groundwork Certified Organic Whole Bean Coffee, Venice Blend
- Mountain Summit Gear Campside 3-Person Dome Tent
- Klymit Cross Canyon 4-Person Tent for Camping, Backpacking, and Hiking
- REI Co-op self-inflating sleeping pad
- REI Co-op Trailbreak Foam Pillow
Most enduring and useful
- MSR DromLite Bag Water Reservoir, 6L
- Ozark Trail 2 Burner Propane Camping Stove
- Lodge Cast Iron Skillet with Red Silicone Hot Handle Holder
- Lodge Reversible Grill/Griddle
- Ozark Trail Basic Folding Camp Chair
Favorite place to camp
The great thing about Southern California is the contrasting landscape noticeable even after just a couple hours of driving. We have explored from the deserts of Joshua Tree to the woods of Mammoth Lakes to the mountains near Boulder Colorado. The places from where we return home feeling most refreshed seems to be dispersed camping on the mountains amongst trees.
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