Family camping is one of our favorite summer activities. However, camping with kids can be a challenge if you’re not prepared. After many trial-and-error camping experiences, my husband and I have gathered lots of useful tips and tricks that will help make our camping adventures as smooth as possible.
12 tips and tricks for camping with children
Here is our list of tips and tricks to make your camping experience with kids a little easier and a lot more fun … for everyone.
Arrive before dark
If your camping destination is far from home and you have a long drive ahead of you, plan your arrival carefully. Arriving at a campsite in the dark with kids can be tricky. You can’t find a proper location in the country in the dark and it makes it difficult to set up your website with tired kids. After too many late night arrivals with crying children and frustrated parents, we now want to arrive at our location with at least two hours of daylight.
Try glow stick night lights
Last year we forgot the children’s night lights while camping. Luckily we had bought glow sticks for a fun nighttime activity. We were able to hang a couple of glow stick rings at different points in our truck camper and they provided the perfect amount of glow to keep everyone happy.
Bring a sound machine
Our children sleep at home with a sound machine every night. We’re not going anywhere without it. This also includes when we go camping. The sound machine is perfect for canceling out strange nocturnal noises or loud campsite neighbors. If you don’t have the power to plug in a portable sound machine, we have a fully charged iPad with one White noise app downloaded on it.
Stick to a familiar bedtime routine
Going camping and sleeping in a new place is super exciting for kids. So exciting that it can make bedtime difficult. Sticking to a familiar bedtime can help reduce the novelty of the situation and reassure your children. The regular movements will help you relax and get into a state of sleep. Make sure you pack all the essentials for your child’s bedtime – blankets, sleeping bags, teddies, and favorite bedtime stories.
Bring a bucket for bathing
You might be inclined to skip bath time when camping, but trust me, your kids are going to need a good cleanup. We bring a large Tupperware container and fill it with bubble bath and warm water. The children find it fun and funny to bathe in a bucket, and it is effective in keeping them nice and clean. While lugging around a huge Tupperware container may seem like an inconvenience, you can use the bath bucket to pack other supplies like towels or children’s toys in and out along the way. A perfect multi-purpose bathing solution.
Bring an outdoor rug
An outdoor rug serves as an area for putting on and taking off shoes. It can also be used as a play mat for your children as you don’t always know what the ground will be like at your campsite. When it is sandy or muddy, the outdoor mat offers a clear play area. Our outdoor mat is easy to shake off and can be rolled up for transport.
Bring baby wipes
Baby wipes aren’t just for baby bums! We bring multiple packages with every family camping trip and they have many purposes. From cleaning faces and dirty feet to getting rid of car accidents. Baby wipes are a must. Bring a few packs and you will be surprised how many different things you will use them for.
Prepare the food in advance
Cooking around the campfire can be fun, but if you want to keep things as simple as possible, including cleaning up, prepare your food beforehand. We plan all of our meals, cut all of our ingredients in advance, prepare sandwiches and even marinate our meat at home. This will help make meals faster and keep the number of dishes you have to use to a minimum.
Have a first aid kit ready
When camping with young children, you can never be too prepared. We won’t leave the house without a well-stocked first aid kit. If you’re active outside and having a lot of fun there will likely be a few bumps and cuts, so make sure you have plenty of band-aid with you. Also, make sure you have all of the necessary medications you and your children need.
Protect yourself from the sun and insects
Don’t leave home without sunscreen and bug spray. If you spend most of the day outside, you need to protect yourself and your children from the hot summer sun. In addition to sun protection, we use wide-brimmed hats for the children and UV protection shirts to keep the harmful rays away. For bugs, we look for dirt-free bug spray to keep the mosquitoes away from the children.
Give yourself a break with a child seat or stroller
If you have babies or toddlers, a child seat or stroller is required. A stroller can serve as a high chair during meals if you don’t want to bring multiple chairs. The point is, if you want your hands free to prepare or eat dinner then you need a safe place to put your kids.
Don’t forget garbage bags
If you are camping, anything you bring has to go with you when you leave. So make sure you bring plenty of bags for trash and recycling. After we’ve made our big grocery store for camping food and supplies, we just bring all of the used plastic bags for trash bags with us. When we had children in diapers, we also brought a lockable diaper bag to keep out the diaper smell.
Enjoy your next family camping trip
Camping with young children comes with its challenges, but it can be done. Yes, it might feel like moving out of your house because you have so much stuff to sleep with kids. But I promise you it’s worth it. You will experience adventures and create memories with your children that will really last a lifetime. With a little preparation and the application of these camping tips and tricks, you can enjoy a fun and, I may say, somewhat relaxed family camping trip.
– From Jessica Martel