For many reasons, it just makes sense to go camping this year. You need a budget friendly vacation. You want to get away from the constant screens and have a desire to see more of nature. That said, you have a baby, toddler, and/or kids. The thought of camping with kids can be a bit overwhelming. It doesn’t have to be! Camping with kids can be a great time for you to connect with your kids and to build some life long memories together.
Tips for Camping with Kids
When it comes to camping with kids, there are a few things that will help you make the most of your time and minimize the melt downs.
If they are old enough, get them excited about camping by involving them in the planning! Let them help decide things like activities to do, what favorite toy to bring, etc. When the kids are involved in the planning, they are more likely to stay engaged and not complain. Use books that describe what it is like to go camping as well as fun story books that have their favorite characaters camping.
Camping Activity Book for Families: The Kid-Tested Guide to Fun in the OutdoorsCamping for Kids (Into the Great Outdoors)Camp Out!: The Ultimate Kids’ GuideCurious George Goes CampingThe Berenstain Bears Blaze a TrailScaredy Squirrel Goes Camping
The old adage is that practice makes perfect, right? Set the tent up in the backyard, put out their kiddie cot or sleeping bags, and grab some flashlights. Make it a fun experience so they can feel what camping will be like when you hit the road. Be sure to give them glow bracelets so you can see them even when they set their flashlights down.
Coleman Sundome 4-Person TentColeman Kids Quad Chair4 BYB Super Bright 9 LED Mini Aluminum Flashlight with LanyardGlow SticksRegalo My Cot Portable Bed, Royal BlueColeman Illumi-Bug 45 Degree Youth Sleeping Bag
Optimize Drive Time
If your kiddos still take naps, driving during their nap time is a great idea. This will allow them to get rest and be ready to enjoy everything. If they have given up their naps, give them a busy bag for the road.
Kids E-Z Travel Lap Tray, provides organized access to drawing, snacks and activities for hours on-the-go (Red/Gray, 15X12X3 in.)Travel Scavenger Hunt Card GameMy Car Trip Mini-Journal (Dover Little Activity Books)Melissa & Doug Flip to Win Travel Memory Game – Wooden Game Board, 7 Double-Sided CardsMelissa & Doug On the Go Color by Numbers Kids’ Design Boards: Playtime, Construction, Sports, and MoreTravel Spirograph Playset
Plan for Rest
Make sure that you plan activities so that your young children will be rested for an activity. Having tired kids on an activity will not be pleasant as they will be whiny, crying, and generally melting down. Avoid this by making sure that they are rested before an activity.
Be flexible. Going with the flow and being flexible is the name of the game. Be prepared to have to take a snack break, nap break, or potty break. Don’t let these get to you. Things happen just be prepared in the event that they do.
Pack Healthy Snacks and Water Bottles
Pack an array of healthy snacks of Clif Kid ZBars, trail mix, freeze dried fruit, and crackers. Kids are often hungry more often while camping because they are expending a lot of energy exploring their surroundings. Having snacks ready will keep them exploring and fend off tummy grumbles.
CLIF KID ZBAR – Organic Energy Bar – Chocolate Chip – (1.27 Ounce Snack Bar, 18 Count)Natures Garden Heart Healthy Mix Single Serve 1oz Bags, Pack of 7Brothers-ALL-Natural Fruit Crisps, Variety Pack, 24 Individual Bags
Pre-portioning snacks will save you a ton of time. Using reusuable food safe containers will help reduce the amount of trash on your site, and could save you money over buying the pre-portioned snacks.
The First Years Take & Toss Snack Cups – 4.5 Ounce, 6 PackPrep Naturals 8 oz. Deli Microwave and Freezer Safe Plastic Food Containers with Leak-proof Lid, 50-PackSet of 6 Reusable Kids Sandwich & Snack Bags By One Step Ahead Cloth Zipper Seal
Keeping their water bottle close at hand will help them stay hydrated and keep them from complaining of thirst.
Taking care of kids basic needs (sleep, food, potty) will always make the trip go more smoothly.
Plan to Potty
Plan potty breaks. You know your child. Make sure to plan potty breaks and look for those signs that mean that they need to go potty. Carry an extra underwear along with extra pants in the event that an accident occurs. Make sure you have packed enough diapers, and disposable diaper bags, if you have a child who is in them. For little one’s consider a portable potty seat, and be sure to bring wet bag for any clothes that may be soiled. The last thing you want is a whole load of laundry smelling like poo.
Keep them Informed
Let your kids know what you will be doing so that they can be prepared and understand. This can help if you will be doing some things that they might not enjoy quite as much so that they know the next thing will be something that they will.
Bring Something Familiar
Bring along favorite blanket, doll, or stuffed animal to help them have something familiar in a different place. Allow them to bring along a few toys from home. We pack a tote of toys that are camp friendly. Balls, cars for the dirt, bug containers, etc.
Plan for Rain
Plan for rain days by packing ponchos AND having back up plans with inside activities.
Rain does not have to ruin your week or weekend. You can do fun things tell stories, play games, jump in the car and go to see a movie, go bowling, or go to an indoor bounce place.
Camping with kids can be a lot of fun. Kids are naturally curious and will delight in little things, like seeing a walking stick bug, or watching lightning bugs at night. These tips for camping with kids will help you stop stressing over making the time perfect and just enjoy being with them out in the open. Kids will feed off of your energy, whether good or bad. Be sure to put your smile on, even when something doesn’t go as planned (as seems inevitable when doing ANYthing with kids) and they’ll have fun, too.