5 Challenges of Truck Shell Camping as a Family

Truck camping family watching sunset around campfire

We love truck camping as a family. We love the adventure it brings, the closeness it creates, the creativity it forces.

But, it isn’t always easy. And today, we’re outlining the top 5 greatest challenges we’ve encountered while traveling from a truck shell camper as a family of 3.

1. Using an Outdoor Kitchen in Poor Weather Conditions

Escaping the weather in a parking garage! Still cold, but not wet!

Escaping the weather in a parking garage! Still cold, but not wet!

We have no option for indoor cooking. And we travel on the cheap, eliminating frequent restaurant stops.

A little drizzle in the 60 degree weather- no problem. Pull out the awning and it’s business as usual.

Multiple days of a rotation between driving rain, snow, and sleet? Cooking outdoors can be done...sure. But not by me.

2. No Space to Hang Out in Poor Weather Conditions

Again, think multiple days of crappy weather. Like toe numbing, wet, crappy weather. (Oh yeah, and in this scenario, remember that you didn’t pack winter gear!)

The snowy view from our “house".

The snowy view from our “house".

If near a town, some indoor fun is never too difficult to find. However, on our travels we aren’t always near civilization.

Lounging in our tiny space as it snows or sleets is new and exciting…on the first day…

But after a few days of the camper shell being home base during poor weather conditions, it begins to feel small. Like, impossibly small.

And wet. As in, literally, everything is damp with no hope of drying out with all that moisture in the air.

3. Constant Togetherness

Just the two of us - we can make our own space and all is well. We’ve never had problems with extended travel in small spaces as a couple.

But, 3 year old.

Ha! (No, that’s not what I was saying in the moment.)

Ha! (No, that’s not what I was saying in the moment.)

Don’t get me wrong, she’s fantastic.

That said, while traveling and camping from a truck bed, she’s always there!

There is no bedroom for her to disappear into. There is no running to the bathroom on her own. There is limited wandering around campsites without one of us always watching and being alert.

And we’re sleeping in the same bed. And we don’t have any trusted babysitters spread out over the United States.

She’s at that age where at home, she has great independence.

But in busy places, on challenging trails, at that awesome campsite near the cliff edge or roaring river, that independence just can’t yet be safely given or expected.

Always there. (Also, we love her very much and she is fantastic.)

Will we continue to travel with our kid? Of course! The pros far outweigh the cons, hands down.

But this post is about challenges. And having a young child along on an extended adventure where her independence is stripped down and we can’t retreat to separate spaces certainly makes the list of tough stuff.

4. Staying Organized

I’ve pretty much got organization in the bag. But I’m not gonna lie, it’s hard to stay organized in a truck shell camper.

And if you don’t stay organized, things aren’t going to go well.

You don’t want to spend a literal 7 minutes looking for your kid’s must-have-in-order-to-sleep stuffed animal every few nights. You don’t want to take like 15 minutes to get dressed just because you can’t find all of your needed articles of clothing. Making a sandwich should be an activity that takes no more than a couple minutes.

If you can’t come up with a system to stay organized while truck shell camping, all of those routine things you do at home that take no time or thought at all (like brushing your teeth, for example), end up taking enough time that you soon realize a huge chunk of you day is spent doing no other than looking for things for people.

Head over to our post - Organization Tips & Storage Solutions for Your Tiny Camper - to read more about how we battle against this in our camper!

5. Lack of an Established Work Space

Mostly, the lack of an established work space hasn’t been a huge issue.

Patrick working in the San Juan National Forest in Colorado.

Patrick working in the San Juan National Forest in Colorado.

If the weather is nice, it’s pretty simple to get set up outdoors to get some work done. Not as comfortable as your rolling chair and desk, but the views are onemillionpercent better.

The difficulty comes when it’s frigid or wet or dark and you aren’t near that welcoming little coffee shop!

Then, the cab of the truck seems to be the best option. It isn’t the easiest area to spread out, get organized, and feel comfortable while working, but it can certainly get the job done.

If you’ve got a back seat in your truck for some of your things, or a kiddo already in a booster seat (hello, shoulder and arm room!), you’ll probably find it comfortable enough.

So there you have it - our top 5 challenges of truck camping as a family of three!

And of course, we’re coming up with solutions to our problems, as we’re finding that being comfortable in all situations is more important than we anticipated. We’ll be getting those up soon!

If you’re considering truck camping as a family, go for it! Don’t take this post as discouragement from getting out there.

Family truck shell camping in Valley of the Gods, Utah.

When the weather is cooperating, we think there’s nothing better than finding an isolated campsite, spreading out, and enjoying the time together, while everything we need is in our tiny truck camper.

If you’re interested in more about our family travels or truck camping tips, please SUBSCRIBE!

As always, thanks for reading!

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