Fixes & food: Getting ready for 6 weeks of California Camping in our popup camper!

It is time to hit the road in our popup camper! For 6 weeks, we’ll be roadtripping, Disneylanding, and popup camping throughout California’s deserts, beaches, cities, and redwood forests. It’s a big trip, during the unpredictable months of February and March. So how in the world are we preparing for 6 weeks of travel with our popup camper? Here are fixes and food tips that helped us get ready to hit the road.

Family travel video: Fixes and food for a 6-week California popup camping road trip

Why a popup camper?

We got a small popup camper because we could more easily hook up and head out. And, more importantly, so we can pack up and cook up lots of tasty food.

Sure, there’s packing and groceries and pre-trip logistics. But we’ve found that having the camper actually makes it easier to space out those tasks.

As we get ready for our month-and-a-half road trip, it’s also been a few months since we last did any camping. Part of our pre-trip? Getting a few repairs sorted. We found a great RV place nearby that just took care of a few things for us.

Check over for minor repairs, but don’t get frozen out of RV repair season!

Just like any other kind of RV, popup campers sometimes need maintenance and repairs too. As we got ready for camping, we needed these things sorted:

🔥 The popup camper’s propane heater wasn’t working! We tried to troubleshoot this, but it turned out the thermostat had gotten stuck, and a wire in the heater assembly had come loose.

⚙️ Tongue jack wheel stem had a… mishap in Utah over the summer. This is the wheel and stem at the front of the popup’s trailer. The end of it had gotten all crumpled up, and the wheel wouldn’t go on anymore. Now it’s fixed!

✅ Check cable had come loose. When we’re cranking up the popup, a green cable, called a check cable, gets tighter and tighter as the camper gets taller. Once the check cable is taut, that’s your sign to stop cranking. The top end of our check cable kept coming loose. Now it’s secure again.

These little fixes both help keep the camper in good shape, and give us more peace of mind for being able to hit the road. Plus, where we’re camping, there’ll likely be some chilly evenings and mornings, so we wanted the option of running the propane heater!

We also learned that RV repair season hits way in advance of travel season. Even though we were looking for repairs in January, some places we contacted were weeks out on appointments. Turns out that getting repairs done is something you can never do too early. (But many shout-outs to the awesome folks at Schack’s RV Repair in Junction City, Oregon. They repair RVs from all over the country, and they had ours sorted out quickly and at a fair price.)

Food we pack for road trips and popup camping

🥣🥢🍽 But we know you’re really here for the food. 😉 Here are 4 ways we stretch our camping food budget and have tasty, balanced meals in the popup:

1. Durable fruit.

Apples, oranges, and grapes are some of our fruit mainstays. During the summer, we usually have watermelon around too. If something like fresh strawberries are on offer, we might grab some for a wee first-day treat.

2. Pre-cooked meats.

Ham, kielbasa, deli meat, canned fish: While we pack a cooler, we prefer working with pre-cooked meats that we can either use as-is or brown up in a skillet for extra flavor. We like the peace of mind of having fewer worries about potential spoilage too.

3. Boxed rice mixes and pasta mixes.

We love these mixes. They’re cheap, versatile, travel well, and are so easy to pair up with your choice of veggies and protein.

4. Canned beans, veggies, and pickles.

We mostly eat fresh veg on the road, but when we’re camping there are a few canned veggies we keep on hand too, such as canned mushrooms. The kids also love pickled beets, so those are a must. Beans are a regular part of our diet, so we usually keep a couple of cans of chickpeas, black beans, and/or pintos around for easy working into meals.

And how did we maintain supplies for those tasty camping meals?

We worked in a grocery run whenever we changed campgrounds.

We’re used to doing one or two big grocery runs a months. But when we camp, that doesn’t work. Instead, we do smaller runs once or twice a week.

We typically stay at a campground for around 3 or 4 nights. Whenever we change location, we work in a grocery stop to top up whatever needs replacing (we’re looking at you, our ever-dwindling supply of apples). Winco Foods is our top stop for groceries and prices (plus they’re deli sandwiches make cheap and easy on-the-go lunches!).

Getting ready for a big camping trip is an endeavor in and of itself. But with fixes and food sorted? Now we can hook up and head out!

About the author
Learners and Makers
We are the St. Clair Family: Anthony, Jodie, Connor, and Aster. As Learners and Makers, our family of four slows down, connects, and enjoys the world and each other's company. We have been traveling full time since 2022.