The Must-Know Tips for Camping With Kids
Every family deserves the experience of camping together over a long weekend or vacation from school/work. If you aren’t typically the camping type, or you have just never taken the kids, this can seem like an overwhelming experience. It doesn’t have to be at all! As long as you prepare, pack necessities, and are ready for some outdoor adventures, it’ll be a great chance to bond with those you love most. In this day and age, it is vital to teach our children how much fun and excitement can be found right outside, rather than in front of their tv or tablet. We didn’t need video games for fun as kids and neither do our little ones!
These tips for camping with kids should help you feel prepared and ready to take on this new vacation. You’ll love watching the kids play and run and laugh for hours and hours and just might decide to do this all over again!
There may be affiliate links in this article. You can read more about this in my disclosure.
ALWAYS Pack A LOT of wipes when Camping with Kids
It is likely if you have kids that this one goes without saying but seriously, sanitizing wipes are good for EVERYTHING. Especially if you are truly roughing it and don’t have running water. No long hike to a shower house each time the kids need to wash up before eating, a quick way to wipe down the table, an easy option for messy faces, etc!
Pack For All Weather
Sure, it might be a hot and sticky time of year when you are planning your camping trip, but remember weather changes fast! Obviously, once the sun goes down, temperatures follow and often times can make a huge difference in your comfort level. Bring warm pajamas, fleece hoodies/jackets, and plenty of extra socks. Also, you never know when that unpredictable rain shower could happen. Make sure you have extra clothing to change into, rain ponchos/boots for the kiddos, and some inside the tent activities to keep everyone busy while you wait it out.
Stick to Your Routine when Camping with Kids (as much as possible)
Kids thrive on routine and even if you have never put too much thought into it, your kids have one by nature. Whether it is a bedtime story before sleeping, a warm cup of milk, 2 naps a day, or just specific snack times, routines can make or break the day with little ones.
Listen, ladies, night time is dark anywhere ya go but out in the middle of nowhere at a campsite? That is some serious darkness. We have likely all experienced the pitch black night whether out at a country bonfire or a previous camping trip. Our kids, on the other hand, are often asleep before it’s even truly dark outside. If they ARE awake, it’s not usually typical of them to be outside playing without some type of backyard lights or those crazy bright city street lights shining down. In an attempt to make the kids more comfortable, try hanging some led lights around the campsite, strung between trees or draped around the perimeter. Not only does this give the site a super fun and cozy vibe, but it also makes things so much less scary for the little ones! This is a set I love that not only serves its purpose but is adorable as well!
- String of Ten tiny LED lanterns
- Portable - powered by 3 AA batteries (sold...
Portable Play Pen (Lifesaver for camping with kids)
Depending on the ages of the kids you’re taking camping, it can often be helpful to have a way/place to contain those little wanderers while you are setting up the campsite, building a fire, etc. The last thing you need on your camping trip is a little one wandering into a poison ivy plant, river, or otherwise hazardous space! This one from Summer Infant is a basic Pop’N’Play that will do the trick at an affordable price!
- INDOOR/OUTDOOR USE – Whether playtime is indoors...
- LIGHTWEIGHT AND PORTABLE – The ultra-lightweight...
Portable High Chair
While you’re thinking along those lines, don’t forget the other conveniences that may help with little ones, such as a high chair! I used this portable one anytime I was going somewhere that might not have had a high chair available. In fact, for a long period of time, I just let it live in my trunk full time, just in case!
- INDOOR/OUTDOOR DINING – Whether you’re indoors...
- COMPACT FOLD – With an innovative pop and fold...
As if you don’t have enough to remember to pack, make sure you don’t forget that favorite teddy or can’t-live-without-it blanky! Things will go so much smoother on your camping trip if the kids are kept happy and comfortable for their first experience. Trying to sleep in a brand new environment, outside, in the dark, WITHOUT their favorite security item just sounds disastrous.
This goes along with keeping your routine, but it is so vital! If you have kids that regularly nap 1-2 times a day, you know how difficult it can be to plan events around nap time. When the family is camping and it’s hot and less comfortable than home, it can seem like a huge chore to put the baby down for a nap. Say you skip it and head out for a midday hike instead. Imagine your 2-year-old screaming, crying, and flailing around in the dirt 15 minutes into your 2-hour hike because they are just way too tired. You definitely don’t want this! I love this portable bassinet for nap time as well as bedtime when camping with a baby!
- Updated design with mesh panels, breathable...
- Four-point Safe-T-Lock system for safety and...
This might be a good opportunity to stay back and catch up on a good book while the littlest one’s nap and the rest of the family go on the hike! Amateur Hour: Motherhood in Essays and Swear Words and The Magic of Motherhood: The Good Stuff, the Hard Stuff, and Everything In Between is two of my favorites for you to check out!
If you take the family camping and no one plays flashlight tag, did the camping trip really even happen?! Okay, maybe that’s a little dramatic, but flashlight tag is such a highlight of my childhood! Plus, all you need is dark (check) and flashlights (check!). It’s a great way to wind the older kids down at the end of a long, fun day.
Camping with Kids – The What-If Items
Sure, you’ll load everyone up with sunscreen before the hit the water but what if it isn’t enough? What if one of the kiddos develops a painful sunburn 4 hours later? Bug spray? Yep, you’re using it like crazy but your daughter still has some terribly itchy mosquito bites. Pack the Aloe Vera, the itch cream, the band-aids and antiseptic and all essential first aid items! Of course, you will do your best to prevent needing them and everyone hopes the prevention works but just in case, being prepared for the worst is so much better than watching your child itch miserably from some bites!
Extra Snacks (And Then Some)
I don’t know if it’s all kids, but mine sure likes to eat and eat and eat. Especially when boredom strikes or he is just lounging around the fire with the family. Something about sitting still prompts him to eat anything in site, on levels comparable to a grown man. I like to make sure to have non-refrigerated snacks handy such as apples, pretzels, oranges, chips, fruit snacks, cookies, etc. When I am sure I have enough snacks packed, I pack more! Sure, some of what we bring is junk food but come on, you’re camping! You earned it.
This has to be one of my favorite parts of camping with kids. Sure, I cook meals every day at home but when we are camping, I can choose meals the kids have to make themselves! Not ALL meals on camping trips are self-serve, but some certainly are. Think roasting hot dogs (I bring the long metal rods instead of finding sticks), marshmallows, and these DELICIOUS campfire rollups.
Camping With Kids is Worth It
Family vacations just wouldn’t be the same without some type of hiccup or mini disaster along the way. Camping with the kids will be no exception so just try to embrace the adventure! Accept that the kids will be dirty, their clothes will get gross, and the food probably won’t be gourmet. The best part about camping is that it is ENTIRELY up to you how your trip looks. From roughing it under the stars to full on glamping with fur rugs and champagne, make this trip your own. Create memories, explore nature, tell campfire stories, eat s’ mores until you’re sick, and enjoy every moment while they’re small.
Get excited for your trip with these quotes for family travel!
Last update on 2021-10-15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API