There comes a time in every camper’s life when they may find themselves with mini-sized individuals running around the house.
Now, this might be because you’ve settled down and had some kids of your own, you’re babysitting for a living, or your sister has left her two kids with you for the weekend while she goes on a beach holiday.
Whatever the reason is, going out on a family camping trip doesn’t have to be as complicated and stressful as it sounds.
In fact, camping with the whole family can even be fun.
There’s a reason why you’ll often see campgrounds in summertime filled to the brim with families enjoying the great outdoors with a wide range of activities.
So how can you get the most out of taking children with you camping?
Well, of course, the first thing to remember is that the dynamic is quite different from one that doesn't involve kids.
This means you’ll probably have to leave the flamethrower at home. (I’m sorry)
Fortunately, this isn't the end of the world. It simply means that you’ll have to make some considerations and plan a bit before you go.
But don’t stress yourself, you don't have to write a new bible on how to take the family camping. This guide here has a few tips and tricks to help you put your mind at ease, be prepared, and have the best time taking the youngsters out into the campgrounds.
Pick the Best Spot For Taking Kids
Picking the right spot to set up camp and go on your next adventure is both extremely important and also an art.
There is a ton of options out there when it comes to choosing where to take a family, so assess your level of experience, how many people you’re with, and how long you’re going to be staying for.
If you’re a family that's not too experienced with camping or are looking for a very laid-back, stress-free camping experience, I recommend reserving a spot at a campground.
These tend to be well taken care of, safe, and have access to a ton of facilities.
Just make sure that you book in advance for the more popular months of the year (around summer) as spots can really fill up quickly with families like yours looking for a gorgeous getaway.
This is will make your first family camping adventure together flow much easier and you'll also get a great feel of how you all work together when camping together.
Other options for more experienced campers can be choosing places such as first come, first served camp spots, or going to a secret spot that’s a favorite of yours and showing your kids the magic of sleeping under the stars.
Or even just camp on your’s or someone else's lands out in the country, the freedom is yours!
If there is one thing that kids are known for, it’s that at times they can be messy and unpredictable, so having all the stuff that you’re taking with you on your camping trip organized will help everything run smoothly.
After all, you’ll want to be able to find the stuff you need easily.
One of the best ways is to create a system where you’ve designated certain boxes and bags in your packing list for certain items.
You can split this into categories such as camping equipment, cooking equipment, sports equipment/toys, cooler for perishable items, and non-perishable foods, plus miscellaneous items.
Label these accordingly and pack them in a way where they are easy to access and won’t get mixed up with one another.
Think About Safety
Normally, one of the things that will be high on everyone’s mind is keeping the kids safe and secure while on the camping trip. After all, you’re all there to have a good time and enjoy yourselves.
Before you next head out on the road towards your camping destination, take some time to plan your trip a little and consider if there are any risks or potentialities that may occur.
For example, will there be many other people around? Does the park have a history of bear sightings? What will the weather conditions be like?
As usual, the best way you can avoid the most potentially dangerous situations is to come equipped with all the items that you need.
If this is your first family camping trip, think about how your kids behave when outdoors
I've included some of my recommendations a bit later in the article, however, if you’re looking for the most comprehensive packing list specifically designed for families going camping, I definitely recommend this article.
Try a Test Run
As with everything of value, why not give camping with children a test run and see if you like it? Try camping in a very low-pressure environment such as your backyard (or even a 1-night trip somewhere close to your home) to see how the children react.
After all, camping with family successfully is all about trial and error.
For one, it’s a great way to get the kids to practice some camping skills and get used to the dynamic of sleeping outside and operating in a camping context. You'll be able to give them some camping tips and they can implement them.
It will also give you an idea of what you’re missing as well in your camping equipment.
Who wants to arrive at the campsite and realize that they’re missing not one, but two tent pegs?
Realizing this in your backyard is a much better alternative than realizing it in the national park.
Make Sleeping Conditions Comfortable
Like adults, kids love a good night’s sleep (ok maybe not as much).
Often, this is even more essential in environments like the outdoors or the campground where the surroundings may be quite stimulating, unfamiliar and can leave children tired and ready for the comfort of home at the end of the day.
Depending on the conditions and time of the year, pack accordingly.
For example, if you’re going in the summer months, you probably won’t need to bring a ton of extra blankets and that winter camping tent. You might not need an arctic, heavy-duty sleeping bag either.
If it’s looking to be on the colder side of the spectrum, then bring comfortable and warm sleeping bags along with sleeping pads to help you keep yourself and the cold ground separate and keep the heat inside your children's sleeping bag.
Bringing along an inflatable pillow is also a fantastic idea as it will allow children to keep their head and neck comfortable and get themselves a good night’s sleep.
Getting a good night’s sleep is important for everyone involved on a family camping trip, as you’ll want to have the energy to get the most of the day while the sun is still out.
And chances are, if you have a big adventure-packed day, they’ll sleep like a baby anyway.
Don't Forget This Camping Gear
On your next camping adventure, don't forget to take these items when you're camping with kids.
These will prove handy for keeping your kids entertained, safe and happy.
A great picnic table is essential for eating meals, playing games, and enjoying each other's company. It's a good spot to also store things temporarily to keep them off the ground and in an easily memorable place.
Board Games/Card Games
Family camping trips are always better when the kids are entertained. Cards are always great as they don't take up much space and the possibilities are endless.
These are a great method to keep track of small kids at nighttime, as you want to ideally have your children in your sight at all times. Plus they are cheap and easy to find at a local store.
Self Explanatory. You don't want your kids getting bitten by bugs. For one of your camp chores, get the older kids to apply bug spray on the younger kids.
A classic addition to all camping trips. Sit down next trip by the roaring campfire and tell some stories to your family.
A great family camping trip is built and sustained off the back of great food. Preparing for your first family camping trip should include some cooking essentials such as pans, cutlery and pots.
Have Fun With Your Family
The most important thing to remember is to enjoy yourself and create some unforgettable experiences and develop deeper connections with your family.
With a bit more extra planning and consideration, it may be one of the best decisions you'll ever make.
So get out there and try your first family camping trip!