Kids and camping don’t just go together like peanut butter and jelly. In reality, it’s best not to get too excited about camping with children until you’ve mastered the basics and know your way around a tent and the rough terrain that most campgrounds possess. Most families start off by camping in tents, they can rent, or buy if their property is vacant. If you know what you’re doing, you may be able to find better deals in used camping equipment. It also pays to research your destination to make sure there’s plenty of room to store your stuff while you’re there.
The very first tip for first time camping with kids is to plan ahead. Not only do you want to get the right tent and gear, but also to leave on things like air mattresses and coolers to ensure the kids are properly catered to. Backpack camping can be a challenge without the proper preparation, so be sure to pack appropriately for what you intend to do. Backpack camping used to be all the rage back in the early 1990s, so be sure to pack comfortable shoes, lots of food and water, and make a trip to the local sporting store for some old sneakers instead of brand new ones.
Next on our list of tips for camping with kids is sleep well. Even if it’s a camping trip with family members, the kids still need the sleep. A good night’s sleep will keep them motivated the next day. For camping trips, especially during summer months, you should try to be as far from civilization as possible, which means sleeping out in the open, away from trees and other distractions. If you have the money, it’s best to take a campervan and arrange to have a driver to drive everyone around.
Another important tip is that it’s always good to prepare your own meals while camping. Cooking your own meals allows you to control the size of your meals, and it keeps you from eating too much of the same foods. Preparing your meals ahead of time also makes it easier to find things when you’re in need. Just think of the last time you had a really good meal, and how much easier it would have been if you just remembered to bring a few ingredients and some cooking utensils. There’s no need to go through all of that work when you can just cook up a meal.
Another tip for family camping is packing appropriate clothing. A lot of parents think that the only way to pack is to go with the bare essentials, but it’s usually better to have more clothes than you think you’ll need. Consider carrying a couple of extra sets of clothing for hiking or backpacking, a few days worth of clothes for camping, and a few changes of clothes for unpacking and using in the campground.
There’s one important tip for going on family camping trips that many people overlook: packing a tent and sleeping bag well ahead of time. There’s nothing worse than being stuck out in the woods late at night because you forgot your tent at home. In fact, camping at night is a lot less fun when you don’t have a place to sleep. If you don’t have a campsite or a place to sleep, it’s likely that you’ll be sleeping outside at night, which can get very cold and can be dangerous.
If you do choose to pack a tent, there are some other things to pack as well. Make sure that you’ve packed a lantern with a sturdy light bulb. Another very important item is a flashlight, which you should always have on hand. A lot of family camping locations are not lit up at night, which means that it’s easy to go lost in the woods. By bringing along a flashlight with batteries you can easily spot things in the dark.
Finally, take some time before you pack to pack some snacks and energy bars for your kids. Just because you’re camping doesn’t mean that you can’t indulge your kids a bit. Kids tend to have unhealthy eating habits so having some healthy food to bring along is a good idea. Also, make sure that you pack enough water to last for the duration of your trip. That’s one of the most important tips for camping with kids that anyone should remember.