I’d been shuffling through plastic bins in the back of the van for 45 minutes when I reluctantly came to the conclusion that I’d forgotten the sporks. Or any utensil, for that matter. In hindsight, grabbing those plastic spoons at the gas station we passed an hour ago was a good idea.

When you decide to try car camping, no one tells you how much gear you’re going to forget the first few times.

Between the tent, the headlamps, the cooking equipment, the cooler, the hiking gear, the fire starters, the road snacks and the car keys, something inevitably gets left behind—leaving you scrambling to invent something or make it to Walmart before it closes for the night.

Be prepared for every spontaneous tent adventure, beach trip, and music festival by building your grab-and-go car camping kit in advance. A little prep work will save you time, money and from having to use your fingers to eat chili.