10 tips for camping with kids

Are you thinking of taking your kids camping? Whether it’s your first camping trip or 20th camping adventure with the whole family, these tips for camping may change the way you “rough it” when you go camping with kids in tow. Picking a great kid-friendly campsite for your next family vacation is the first part, but packing the right supplies is just as important to ensuring camping fun!

tips for camping with kids

Tip One – Pack Everything in Clear Tubs

Organizing your items before you go out is key to a successful camping trip, whether or not you bring kids. The goal is to make everything easy to find once you get to your spot, so you want to group like items together. Have one tub for kitchen items, food and snacks, toys, bathroom and bathing, clothes and laundry, sleeping bags and tents, and music and entertainment. This is a huge time saver before, during, and when you get back home and have to unpack everything. Also, it makes it easy to protect your items from the rain.

Tip Two – Bring a Load of Antibacterial and Baby Wipes

Since you’re out in the woods, you won’t have a dedicated area to go and give your kids a bath or shower. These wipes allow you to get a lot of the dirt and grime off your kids as they play. Set a towel or blanket down in front of your tents to give your kids an area to wipe off. This can help keep your tent clean. Also, bring along bug wipes or bug spray for the mosquitos that come out after dusk.

Tip Three – Set up Comfortable Sleeping Arrangements

Baby care is a big factor when looking for tips for camping. If you’re bringing a baby that sleeps in a crib, bring along a pack and play. Tossing an extra sheet across the top can keep bugs out, and they’re easy to move around as you cook. Another option is a portable bassinet. For the bigger kids, consider investing in a double camping cot that looks like a bunk bed. Not only does it save space, but it’s versatile. If you want to sleep directly on the ground, get a thicker foam mat and put it down first for extra cushion. Don’t forget comfortable pillows and sleeping bags.

Tip Four – Bring Along Entertainment Items

Your kids won’t be able to entertain themselves 100% of the time. The biggest thing you can do is bring a tub full of toys that are electronic-free and camping-friendly. Things they might like include bubbles, squirt guns, coloring books, balls, card games, camping bingo kits, bug catcher cases, blocks, or musical items. You want to have a nice variety that the kids can use throughout your trip to stay entertained. Also, plan to take them on short hikes or walks around the campsite.

Tip Five – Set up a Bath Station

Kids get dirty at home. Just imagine how dirty they’ll get when you’re outside for two or three days straight. You want to be able to set up a small bathing station. To do this, you’ll need to bring a plastic bath for babies or an extra plastic tub you can fill with water. Fill the tub in the morning and let the sun warm it up throughout the day. You can also get a solar-heated shower bag if you don’t have any lakes nearby to take a quick dip in.

Cute little sisters and their father roasting marshmallows on sticks at bonfire. Children having fun at camp fire. Camping with kids in fall forest. Family leisure with kids at autumn.

Tip Six – Take Nighttime Safety Into Consideration

Glow sticks are very easy to find, and they make it easy to spot your kids after the sun goes down. They can easily string together several for a necklace, and you can set them around your campsite for light. Another option you have is to buy headlamps for everyone to wear. Invest in a few hanging lanterns for the tent. Another option is to make your own lantern by filling a jug of water and putting a headlamp around it with the light facing inward. It’ll create a soft glow.

Tip Seven – Plan Easy Snacks and Meals

Being outside all day is one fast way to work up an appetite. To keep the kids full, pack easy snack ideas like apples, grapes, cheese sticks, bananas, sliced cucumbers, crackers, baby carrots, and raisins. To make it easy on you for mealtimes, precook meat items at home, so all you have to do is warm them up. Bratwurst and chicken are easy, and you can bring along things for sandwiches. Pack a few different cold cuts, cheese, or peanut butter and jelly for quick mealtime options.

Tip Eight – Check for Local Park Programs

If you plan to camp in a national park, check out Junior Ranger programs. Almost every national park has one, and your kids can get involved in a range of activities. The ages range from 5 to 13, and they have a ranger book that allows your kids to earn badges. Local state campgrounds might also offer staff-led activities that your kids can participate in. This can give the parents a short break while the kids learn educational but fun things during the program hours.

Tip Nine – Pack a Smaller Tent for Play Space

Your kids may like to play in the tent, but this can easily end up dirtying up their sleeping space. Instead, you should pack a smaller tent for the kids to give them a space to play. You can even store their toys in here as a bonus. This comes in very handy if the weather takes a turn and it starts to rain. This doesn’t have to be another full-sized tent, but it should be big enough for the kids to enjoy themselves and move around.

Tip Ten – Bring Extra Clothing

Having a warm sleeping bag may be key when you camp, but your kids should also have extra layers. It’s hard for smaller bodies to generate enough heat to stay continually warm. Make sure you pack outfits for each day but don’t be afraid to bring extra clothing. Don’t forget a pair or two of shoes with warm socks. The evening temperatures can drop significantly, and you want to have enough clothing to easily go around. Also, it’s easy for clothing to get wet, so pack a small clothesline that you can string between two branches and hang the clothes out.

Bottom Line

These top 10 tips for camping with kids will help you pull off a memorable and fun trip, no matter how old or young your children are. The parents will be able to relax a little and enjoy the trip too. Start small and work up to a larger trip, involve your kids, and make memories that last a lifetime.

About the author

Pit Stops for Kids AUTHOR: Amy Whitley is the founding editor of Pit Stops for Kids and content editor of Trekaroo. She writes on staff monthly at a number of travel publications, and contributes to OutdoorsNW magazine as an outdoor adventure traveler. Find Amy at Google.

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