Everything’s fun about tailgating: taking a trip, hanging with your friends, cooking outdoors and rooting for your favorite team. Some fans even go all-out with their tailgating and start planning months ahead of time. The only thing that might not be fun about the day-long adventure is packing—but there’s a fix for that.
Planning ahead and organizing your tailgating necessities makes packing your car much faster. You’ll get to the tailgate with less stress and have more fun while you’re there because you’ll be less likely to forget a key item.
Get Organized and Get Packed Faster
Tailgating sporting events is a fun hobby you’re bound to repeat. Since you’ll pack the car more than once to head out and have fun, you could use a few organizational tips.
One of the best things you can do for yourself is create a tailgating center in your garage or storage area. Rearrange your contents to leave an empty area for storing all the gear that goes with you to a game. As you put away your gear, stow it in containers that are easily packed right into the car, such as plastic tubs with snap-on lids or sturdy tote bags. Not having to hunt all over the house for something you need is a big timesaver.
Once you’ve got your gear in place, stay organized by creating a tailgating packing list. Compile a checklist of all the things you need to pack and post it where you’ve stored all the goods. Refer to it as you load the car and you’ll greatly reduce your chances of leaving something behind.
The best way to organize your tailgating inventory is into “kits,” with each kit containing items that are related in some way. Packing like this helps you remember where to find a bandage or a can opener. Here are some kits you may want to pack.
Weather Gear Kit
Depending on both where the game is located and the time of year, your tailgate could be really hot or windy and cold. You’ll find it more enjoyable if you are prepared, so check the weather forecast before packing.
A canopy tent is a great item to have for all seasons. It can keep both the hot sun and spitting rain off of you. With the likelihood of rain, include some folding umbrellas and ponchos in your weather kit.
In your cold weather gear kit, pack:
- Lap blankets that can be used in your picnic chair and then taken into the stadium later
- Extra gloves, scarves, hats and packets of hand and foot warmers
- A spare fleece or sweatshirt to help you add layers if needed
- A kerosene heater
For hot weather, include:
- A battery-powered fan
- Personal misting bottles
- A hat
- Bug spray
- Plenty of extra water
Tailgate Necessities Kit
The necessities for a tailgate are a wide variety of must-have items. Having them all in one kit makes it easy to grab and go. Collect your necessities and pack them in a plastic tote or even a tool box. Here are some of the items you should take:
- Matches or lighter
- Grilling tools and pot holders
- Sharp knife
- Cutting board
- Cork screw
- Bottle opener
- Can opener
- Meat thermometer
- Salt and pepper
- First aid kit
Folding tables and chairs make your picnic area comfortable. In your tailgating supplies, include a picnic blanket. Tailgates tend to expand. As friends join your group and you need more seating, you can spread out a few easily toted blankets. Other items to include in your tailgate list include:
- A grill and fuel
- Coolers and ice (Have one cooler for drinks and another for food)
- Platters or containers for food
- Plates, bowls, cups and utensils
- Plastic wrap or foil
- Cleaning supplies: paper towels, wet wipes and trash bags
- Clean plastic bags for packing away leftovers
- A plastic tote and lid for hauling dirty dishes home
- Lanterns or flashlights for night tailgating
Don’t Forget Fun
Create an entertainment kit for all your fun hangout time before and after the game. Grab a tote bag and fill it with a football, a Frisbee, decks of cards and a board game. Trivia games, especially ones with sports questions, are a big hit. Add some wireless speakers so you can have music or listen in on other football games.
You may also want to invest in portable outdoor games like corn hole, ladder golf and washer toss. These games have a long shelf life and you’ll get plenty of game day use out of them.
Bring along an action camera like the VIRB Ultra 30. You’ll have a ton of fun taking turns wearing the camera to get live-action shots and video of each other playing tailgate games and manning the grill, not to mention great footage of the game and stadium. You can just record on command using voice control or lifestream on YouTube.
Be Informed Before Heading Out
It’s no fun to struggle to get there and arrive late, so don’t depart without the basics. Before you leave, make sure you’re armed with everything you need.
- A GPS to provide correct directions
- The address of the stadium
- The location where your group intends to meet
- Contact numbers for the people in your tailgate group
- If the game is going to run late and you’re spending the night before heading home, make sure you have a reservation, confirmation number and the hotel address
Check out Garmin DriveSmart which features Direct Access, which navigates through parking lots to find the entrance nearest your destination like your 50 yard line seats! It also features a fatigue warning, suggesting break times and potential rest areas after hours of driving. Meeting up with a group of fans? Sync a Bluetooth-enabled device, such as your smartphone, to Garmin DriveSmart for hands-free calling, and receive smart notifications on your Garmin DriveSmart display. Receive calls, text messages and calendar reminders without ever removing your hands from the steering wheel to reach for your phone.
Most important of all is remembering to take your game tickets. Check for those, then head out and have a great time.
Lea Schneider is a home organizational expert with years of experience combining home organization with design styles. She spent a lot of time traveling, camping and RVing with her family when she was growing up. She also writes about organization for The Home Depot, who stocks a wide selection of tailgating gear.