These tips for camping with kids will help you to better prepare for the best camping experience possible!
Camping can be a lot of fun for you and your family. You can build lots of memories that hopefully someday your kids will pass down to their kids.
Now that you have kids though you can’t just “wing” it. You MUST plan ahead, be organized. No matter if you are tenting it, using an RV, or renting a cabin. You still need to make sure that everyone stays happy and has plenty to do.
Where To Go
The first thing you need to do is find a place to go. Most of the good spots you will notice are booked a year in advance.
So after some practice, you will get the hang of it and reserve promptly. Ask these questions:
- Are you one that likes the sun or likes the trees?
- Do you want swimming involved or other activities like hiking?
- How far do you want to travel?
Make a list of importance that you and your family would like to do. That way it will help you narrow down your choices of places to go to.
You can get campground books or I prefer going online to find the campgrounds and most of them have pictures and ratings from other people. Check out some of our local campsite reviews!
Purchase A Tent Or Two
This is obvious, but what kind of tent you get is the important thing. When choosing a tent, keep one thing in mind: space.
How much will you be bringing, what can fit into the tent besides yourselves, and how much privacy do you want.
Traditionally, it used to be that there was a grownup’s tent and a kid’s tent. This arrangement can be fun and useful especially for older kids who want their privacy.
Camping stores are now coming out with tents built like houses. They have a large room for the grownups and another room for the kids. The two rooms are joined by a zipper. When privacy is needed the rooms have privacy curtains built-in.
We loved this “house style” tent before we purchased a travel trailer.
Buy Everyone an Air Mattress
No one likes to sleep on hard ground, and with the air mattress, you will likely get more sleep. For little people, a simple reclining pool float would make a good cheap mattress.
You also need to find a sleeping bag that is suitably rated for the temperatures that you are expecting.
Give Each Person a Job To Do
This makes the setup go fast!
- Set up your tents first.
- Have older children hammer the tent pegs into the ground. Move all of your luggage and necessities into the tents.
- Next, have the children go and collect kindling and sticks while you set up the firewood. Start your fire and cook dinner.
- Make sure everyone knows what their clean-up jobs are, as again this will make things go much faster.
Try to keep fun and cool activities for the afternoons. Some examples of fun cool activities are: have a water gun fight, take everyone to the nearest pool for swimming, plan a water balloon toss (but make sure you clean up), or go somewhere indoors.
At night you can make a fire, roast marshmallows, sing songs, tell ghost stories, stargaze/ look for constellations, and even just talk.
Start with bins. I like to use bins because they are waterproof and easy to cleanout.
They can also stack easily too. I label them for instance: Kids Bathing Suits, Husbands Shirts, Propane tanks, Cooking utensils, Coloring books/Crafts, etc. The bins can be in many sizes.
It makes it much easier to pack up the car too with shapes that are even instead of awkward bags. Bring an empty one filled with plastic baggies (for kids shells, garbage sacks, leftover food, etc.).
You can start weeks in advance on this and layout the bins somewhere in your home. Pre-label them and start packing them as you can.
Whether you are staying at a place with electricity or not. Bring lighting. Battery-operated lights (found during holiday seasons). Solar lights (found during summertime) or plug-in lights.
Tiki torches are another great way to light up the camp area and they keep the bugs away too. Makes you feel like you are somewhere tropical at the same time.
Path solar lights are excellent for around the walking areas. They don’t produce much light but you can see where you are walking. Nice to have to the entrance to your tent or RV and even leading into your camping spot.
I try to avoid lanterns because they do attract bugs. If you stick with strand lights you tend to get fewer bugs and it’s more festive.
Whenever possible, pre-make your food. I like to pre-make my food and freeze it. Check out this camping food list and save the recipes on the blog!
You can marinate meat at your home a few days before you leave then freeze it the night before. It will keep your cooler colder longer. Means fewer trips to get ice.
Also, if your family likes to snack. Try cutting up some veggies before you leave and put them in Tupperware. When your family wants to snack instead of snacking on junk food you can pull out veggies and low-fat dip.
If you are camping someplace hot you can bring dry ice(in a separate cooler) and Popsicles. Make sure the dry ice is wrapped in newspaper and it should last a couple of days.
Let’s talk bugs!
Before leaving, buy at least three citronella candles. Place one by each tent.
If using the two-room tent, place a candle near each entrance. Keep the candles about 5 feet away from the entrance to the tent.
Also, place a candle near your fire pit. Most bugs are attracted to lights, so this will keep the bugs at a minimum while you enjoy your campfire.
You may also purchase a bug “Zapper”. This device is electricity that zaps each bug that flies toward its light.
Make sure each person has an ample amount of bug spray on them. If there are a lot of mosquitoes around the area, place a few dryer sheets in each person’s pockets. This disguises the carbon dioxide smell that they are attracted to.
Now that you have done the camping, it’s time to put together memories in some sort of album/journal. If you are a scrapbooker you can make it look all fancy or if you are then no biggie just purchase an album (w/ slide-out pages and tape the things in it).
Other things you can add besides the pictures you took is the menu of food; other brochures of activities you did; shell, sand, or a leaf; a token from the showers; a map highlighted on how you got there. It’s completely up to you. This is for you and your family to look at for many many years.
The best thing you can do for your family is to do things as a family. The more times you go camping the easier it gets.
You will find and learn new things by watching other campers. Have fun with it even on those camping trips when it turns out raining and you are stuck in a tent that is leaking, remember that someday you will look back and will always remember that trip and probably laugh about it.
I hope that you found these tips helpful! What else would you add to the list??