12 Tips for Camping With Kids
Camping is a fun experience for the whole family. Here are our top tips for camping with kids!
Whether your family is a typical outdoor activity loving group or not, there's no reason you can't enjoy camping trips together. Spending time in nature with the whole family is so rewarding. You can even get your kids to take a break from electronics for at least a few hours by having some good old-fashioned fun on a camping trip.
Family Days Out has put together a list of tips for camping with kids so every camping trip can be flawless, whether it’s the first camping trip or simply the next camping trip. Here are a few tips to help your trip go smoothly.
1. Have the Kids Help Plan the Camping Trip
Involving your kids in the trip planning process is a great way to help everyone feel included. You can use this tip whether you have young kids or older kids. It's important to know what each child wants to do on the camping trip so that everyone is happy. Try starting by asking everyone what their must-do activity is on the trip.
2. Try a Home Camping Adventure First
If you're planning out your first camping trip, you'll first want to run a camping scenario in your backyard. Sleeping overnight in a tent can be overwhelming or scary for some kids. By recreating a camping environment in a familiar place, you can help assure your kids that camping is fun!
You may even want to make regular backyard camping an activity, especially if your kids seem nervous after the first attempt! Make it a fun activity by adding a shadow puppet show and smores.
3. Find the Ideal Campsite
It's essential to find the perfect campsite for you and your family. While researching campsites, you may find some with direct beach access, playgrounds, and kid-friendly activities. Others might offer flushing toilets, picnic tables, and showers. Put together a list of what's necessary at your campsite and find locations that provide what you and your family need.
4. Pack for Different Weather Scenarios
While we’d like to think that camping will be easy peasy, we still need to plan for weather changes if they happen. Always pack rain jackets, shorts, pants, long sleeves, gloves, towels, and more in case of different weather scenarios. It's better to be over-prepared than underprepared. Including these items will help you and your family stay dry and comfortable even if it rains during a trip.
5. Bring the Correct Camping Gear (Like Sleeping Bags)
Sure, you can pack clothing for the different types of weather, but if you don't pack a thick sleeping bag, it may get too chilly at night. It's important to research and put together a list of essential camping gear like a first aid kit, waterproof tent, a tent footprint (for underneath the tent), poles and stakes, flashlights (with plenty of batteries!), and so on.
6. Skip the Electronics
One of the best parts about being in nature is enjoying it without electronics! Sometimes, it's good for kids (and adults!) to get a break from TVs, phones, tablets, etc. It might seem tricky at first, but with all the activities you have planned as a family, you'll find it to be easier than you think.
Pro Tip: Bring cell phones and leave them in the car if there's an emergency.
7. Bring Snacks – Lots of Them
Since you'll be away from home, you'll want to bring lots of snacks. With your kids running around and all the hiking you'll be doing, everyone will be extra hungry. Avoid crabby family members by ensuring everyone is hydrated and has enough snacks during the day. Beef jerky, trail mix, and fig bars are great options since they don't need to be kept cold.
8. Plan Easy Meals for the Family Camping Trip
It may be tempting to organize restaurant-quality meals while camping. Everyone will be too tired from all the outdoor activities on the itinerary to wait for a complicated meal. Instead, pick quick and easy meal options like hot dogs and chips. The simpler the meals, the fewer ingredients you'll need to bring along.
Then, you’ll have more room for fun foods like smores!
9. Try New Activities When Camping
Camping means getting to try new activities! You can use this as an opportunity to explore water sports like kayaking, canoeing, stand-up paddleboarding, and more! Or, help your kids discover an interest in bird watching. You never know; you may even find new activities that you enjoy doing together as a family.
Family camping trips are the best time to try new things, especially since the devices are away. Maybe you'll even find that your kids love reading!
10. Find Car Camping Sites
Camping with a family means you'll need to bring snacks, drinks, camping gear, etc. Car camping sites allow you to pull your car right next to where you'll be setting up the tent. Instead of lugging everything you need on a trail, you can walk a few feet to your car.
11. Bring a Portable Crib
Camping with infants is possible and made easier with a portable crib. These cribs can condense down for space-saving and are easy to set up. We recommend camping closer to home at a nearby park if you're bringing young children like toddlers and babies. You'll be only a quick drive from the house if you need to shorten your camping trip.
12. Set up a Separate Tent for Older Kids
Yes, family time is essential during a camping trip. However, you may want to think about bringing a tent for older kids to have their own space. Having a separate tent allows teens to have more independence. Your teens will thank you!
It’s okay to make mistakes while camping! The more you camp, the more you’ll learn what works best for you and your family. If you forget to pack the marshmallows for smores or overpack on clothes, don’t stress! Use it as a camping experience and add it to the camping checklist for your next trip.
Camping with kids is a great bonding experience. Using the above tips, you can help create an unforgettable experience with your family.
Remember: It's okay to make mistakes! Getting your kids off their electronics and into the moment is rewarding enough.