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I love the summer months for one big reason. Camping. Our family loves getting out in the woods and camping. No RV for us, we’re rural campers meaning we use a tent with no power other than solar power and so on. There’s just something about planning a hiking trip, planning a family camping trip and getting back to nature that we all love. Does your family camp? If no, but you want to, you’ll need to do a bit of planning ahead of time. They can be fun, but if you don’t take the time to look things over ahead of time, they can also be “not fun.”
If you’re new to camping, especially camping with kids, it can all be more than a tad bit overwhelming, but if you let it become more than you can handle, you’ll easily forget what the entire trip is about. Family time. If you plan ahead of time though, you can ensure that your entire family, even your kids have an amazing family camping trip. Your kids will learn, they will have fun and you’ll have a ball watching them too!
Camping with Kids – 10 Tips for an Awesome Family Camping Trip
Pick the correct date and prepare your kids
The very first thing you’ll want to do is set a date for your camping trip. If this is the first time you’ve been camping with kids, consider keeping your family camping trip short. Most kids will enjoy it, but extend it too long and they’ll be thrown off of what they know as normal creating possible problems for you. The first time or two, try to keep things to a day or two at a time so they can get used to things. You can make things easier on you and your kids by reading them books that are camping themed before hand and spending time with them explaining what will happen and what to expect. Make sure that you check the weather for your trip when you plan it and before you leave the house. You may enjoy watching a good storm from your tent, but your kids likely won’t.
Pack early and pack smart
Let me be honest with you. There isn’t much worse on a family camping trip than getting to your camp site only to realize you left something behind. Packing early and packing smart will make sure that doesn’t happen to you. You’ll want to make sure that you have the proper gear and everything you will need to go camping with kids. For your tent, make sure that you have one big enough for your entire family and your sleeping gear/clothing. I generally recommend that people go up one size than they need so that they have room for their clothing, bedding and what have you. This would mean that a family of 4 would buy a tent that sleeps 6-8 and not 4-6.
You’ll also want to make sure that you have weather appropriate bedding, a camping lantern, strike anywhere or waterproof matches, cast iron cookware if you plan to cook on an open fire and a propane camp stove if you don’t, dishes, frozen food and ice packs (freezer your food before you leave to help it stay fresher longer), and if you’re camping with an infant? A Pack and Play with an extra sheet.
You will also want to have a way for your kids to go to the bathroom. Having a Luggable Loo and waste bags can help make camping with kids a whole lot easier since it is more normal for them to sit and potty than it would be for them to go in the woods.
Be fully prepared
Do not make the assumption that since you might be camping at a National Park or State Park that you won’t have any emergencies. Things happen, especially when kids are involved so you’ll need to be fully prepared for that. If you won’t have access to your car to keep your phone charged, picking up a solar charger might be a good idea. You’ll also want to make sure that you have a fully stocked first aid kit, sunscreen and basic emergency supplies like an extra flashlight and batteries.
Remember that extra pack and play sheet I told you to bring? Stretch it out over the top of your Pack and Play to help keep bugs away from your baby. You’ll also want to make sure you have plenty of bug spray and anti-itch cream for bug bites that do happen though.
Plan fun activities for you and your kids
Kids, especially little ones, are more prone to meltdowns when they’re bored and that is the last thing you wan to happen on your family camping trip. To keep it from happening, plan plenty of fun activities for both you and them. Grab your fishing pole and get them a youth fishing pole to go fishing. Plan a nature scavenger hunt. Go geocaching. Tell “scary” ghost stories around the campfire (just be sure they’re kid appropriate).
Plan your sleeping arrangements
For some kids, sleeping in a sleeping bag on the ground will be cool, but for others? Not so much. Knowing ahead of time what will work best for you and your kids will make your entire family camping trip a whole lot easier. If you think that sleeping on the ground will be an issue, buying a camp cot or twin sized air mattress might be a better option. Make sure that you bring any favorite blankets or stuffed animals too so that you don’t have any bedtime meltdowns.
Waterproof your camera
If you’re going to be using your phone for photos, make sure that you pick up a waterproof phone sleeve for it. Doing so will protect it from not only water, but dirt as well. If you don’t want to use your phone, a waterproof camera or something like a Go Pro will help you preserve your family memories so that you can always look back on them when your babies are grown and gone.
Plan your meals well
The last thing you’ll want to have happen on your family campaign trip is to not know what you’re eating. Hot dogs and hamburgers are always a great option, but if you want something more meal like, you can try some of the backpacking foods that are available. Bacon and eggs are a fantastic breakfast option or you can grab those little boxes of cereal and shelf stable milk for the kids. Don’t forget the s’mores ingredients too! It’s just not camping without s’mores! Since you’re camping with kids, you’ll also want to be sure you have plenty of snacks for them. Dehydrated fruits, Cheerio’s and other quick snacks are all great ideas since the majority of kids love them.
Make security a priority
Whether you’re camping on family property or a National park, chances are good that there are wild animals around. Now I’m not going to give you a single recommendation on security since that type of thing isn’t something we talk about around here, but you absolutely need to make sure that you have something on hand for security. Not only does it need to protect you from wildlife that may be hungry (ask me about the rabid raccoon when I was a kid) but the truth is that it needs to keep you safe from human life as well.
Let your family know where you will be
Don’t leave your home without letting your family know where you will be. To do so is dangerous. If something would happen and you would get lost, broken down or worse, they will have an approximate idea of where to look. Even better? Buy a GPS and send them your actual GPS coordinates.
Leave things better than you found them
One rule that we have as a family and one that you should put into play too is to always leave your camp site band the surrounding area better than you found it. Pick up your trash, make sure your fire is fully out, scan the area for anything that you might have missed packing up. Leave the area better than you found it so that the next campers can enjoy it as much as you did.