Camping with kids might seem like a mess waiting to happen, but it can be a lot of fun. With a little planning and these smart tips and tricks, plan a fun family camping trip to enjoy the outdoors together.
Our last family camping trip was to eastern Oklahoma in April. The weather was surprisingly chilly and the area completely unfamiliar to us. It made for a really cool adventure that we all enjoyed, but the next time we go camping, I plan to be even more prepared.
We bought along the family dog (a Labrador), and made sure we stocked up on Squeaky Dog Toys to keep him occupied. That sorted the dog, but what about the human family?
Here are a few things I’ve learned from our experience and from asking friends before we went.
Family camping trip essentials
1. Make a checklist.
Make a list of everything you need to pack for your family camping trip and check it off as it gets loaded into the car. I like to divide my list into categories: food, sleeping, and personal items.
2. Research your campsite.
Will there be bathrooms? Showers? Running water at all? Can you build a campfire? Are there designated areas or grills? It’s important to know what to expect so that you don’t arrive and discover that you needed to bring one more thing.
3. Pack more than you need.
It’s always better to have too much than not enough. That goes for food, water, clothes, batteries, and toilet paper.
4. Pack in tubs.
Our last camping trip, we divided everything we were taking into “rooms.” There was a big plastic tub for each room – the kitchen, pantry, and bedroom. This helped us keep everything organized and waterproof.
5. Do food prep before you go.
It takes extra work, but will save a lot of trouble to prepare things in advance. Chop vegetables, measure ingredients, or completely assemble a few meals. We really enjoy foil dinners. Everything is cut and assembled in a foil packet and just heated when it’s time to eat.
6. Freeze your food.
When packing your cooler, freeze the foods that are freezable. This will keep everything cold in the cooler and it should still be thawed by the time you need it. We have frozen drinks, yogurt, sausage biscuits, and dinner packets.
7. Bring solar lighting.
There is lots of camping gear that you’ll need – tent, mattress or sleeping bag, cooking tools, etc. The single best product that we’ve purchased for camping is two solar-powered lanterns. They are easy to charge, even on a cloudy day, and put out a lot of light for being so small.
8. Plan for every scenario.
Of course, worst-case scenario you can always pack up and go home. It’s a good idea to bring a tarp in case of rain, extra blankets in case it gets cold, and a first-aid kit with basic supplies. Don’t forget the bug spray and sunscreen, no matter when and where you’re camping.
9. Don’t rely on GPS.
Make sure you know how to get to the campsite and find your way around without a GPS. On our last trip, we got up into mountains and my phone completely lost signal. Fortunately, we were close enough to figure out how to get to the campsite without it, but next time we go somewhere new, I will have a backup plan.
10. Don’t forget the fun.
Camping is supposed to be fun, so while you’re packing all the necessaries, don’t forget some fun and entertainment. You might spend most of your time hiking, exploring, and hanging out at your campsite. Bring a few simple activities for the kids, like a ball, frisbee, deck of cards, or a scavenger hunt list.
We haven’t done a lot of family camping trips, but now that the kids are older we want to go camping more often. What tips and tricks would you add to my list?