Camping is so much fun and one of my all-time favorite things to do with my family. Knowing what to bring when camping with kids will really help make the experience more enjoyable. Today I’m sharing a few tips for family camping to help you know what to pack and enjoy your time together.
It’s always a great time when you can spend some quality time with your family. When it comes to camping, there are many ways to make the experience enjoyable for everyone involved – and we’re here to help! Whether it’s spending more time together or just getting out of the house on those occasional rainy days; if you prepare beforehand by packing plenty of food & games, then camping becomes an adventure in itself.
Camping with kids can be a lot of fun, but there are some handy tips that will make the experience even better. Learn how to prepare for camping with kids so you have everything you need and know what to expect when it’s time to set up camp. We’ll also share tips on managing your campsite, sleeping arrangements, cooking over an open fire, and more!
Best Tips for Family Camping
Camping with kids is always an adventure; you never know what to expect. But if something doesn’t go as planned, there are plenty of clever hacks that can make things a little more relaxing and manageable for everyone involved (I promise!). Scroll down to see them all.
A good way to ensure your next family camping trip is a success: pick the perfect campsite. But don’t forget about packing the right supplies! Bringing the right camping gear will make the difference between having a fun, relaxing campout or feeling stressed out the entire weekend.
Organize Your Camping Gear
Clear plastic storage containers are great for camping because they’re lightweight and easy to pack. You can see what you have inside, which is a huge plus when it comes to packing. They’re stackable so they take up minimal space in your car or tent.
The plastic tubs are waterproof so if there happens to be rain (and believe me when I say it almost always rains) while you’re camping, your belongings will stay dry!
You can organize all of your stuff by category. Just label each storage container so you see what’s what at a glance. Some ideas for different categories are:
- camp kitchen
- food and snacks
- toy bin
- bathroom and toiletries
- blankets and sleeping bags
- clothes and laundry
If you do happen to forget something at home, it’s easy enough to buy it on the spot but using a car camping checklist is super helpful so you don’t forget all those details!
Keeping Clean When Camping
The truth is, when you’re camping with kids there’s going to be dirt and probably a lot of it. It’s important to accept this fact before you go on your first campout or you’ll just feel stressed the whole trip.
Letting your kids get dirty is okay. They will clean up just fine when you get home. In the meantime, while on your campout there are a few things you can do to help keep the dirt and grime at bay as much as possible.
If there are bathhouses near your campsite, you’ll definitely want to use them every day! But if not, here are a few ideas to help you keep those kids relatively clean:
- pack a lot of baby wipes to wipe down hands and faces before and after meals
- use hand sanitizer before meals
- set up a hand and foot washing station with dishpans full of clean water
- set up a plastic tub for bathing young children before bed – set the water in the sunshine with a cover first thing in the morning to heat up
- pack lots of extra clean socks
Enjoy the Campfire
While safety around the campfire is something you need to think about when you have children present, teaching them how to enjoy the fire safely will lead to many wonderful memories spent around the campfire!
Some fun things to do around the campfire are :
- Singing songs around the campfire
- Telling stories
- roasting marshmallows or hot dogs
- making s’mores
- keeping hands and feet warm
- adding wood to keep it going (kids love to help!)
Have fun! Camping is an opportunity to explore nature and have new experiences!
Make Your Tent Comfortable
Kids may want to bring their pillow, favorite blanket or stuffed toy for night time.
Make sure you have the things most important to you and your family, even though they might not be necessary that will help you get a good night’s rest.
If you find it difficult to sleep on the ground, choose a thicker sleeping pad or even a cot or air mattress. Bring your favorite pillows or blankets along – I usually bring my two favorite pillows when we are car camping. Unless I’m roughing it on purpose, I enjoy being a little more comfortable inside my tent!
If your tent is big enough, using a play yard or other portable crib/bassinette can be super helpful in keeping young ones safe and comfortable on your camping trip. We’ve done this many times over the years! Also, this company makes great sleeping bags for babies!
Remember, it can get colder than you expect on a campout and if you’re sleeping on the ground, the ground can suck the warmth right out of you. It’s a great idea to invest in quality sleeping bags, but you’ll probably want to pack extra blankets just in case anyone gets cold. Better to be too warm than not be warm enough.
One time we were on a campout with some kids from our church youth group and one young lad arrived with no sleeping bag. I ended up giving him my blankets to sleep with and we woke up with frost on everything. We were both cold that night! Since then, I try to pack extras in the event that we just need them.
You can lay out foam cushion squares in your tent to make the floor more comfortable and these are also a great option for your toy tent!
Bring Some Games and Activities
Of course, we all hope our kids will be so excited about playing in the great outdoors that they won’t want other types of entertainment, but there are bound to be times when either it’s raining or you need your kids to play quietly while you prepare meals, or they just get bored.
Bringing along some fun games and activities is a great way to keep your kids entertained while camping. Here are a few ideas for things you can bring for kids to do on your campout:
- books to read – either old favorites or new books
- camping mad libs
- camping scavenger hunt
- bug catcher and magnifying glass
- board games or card games
- coloring books and crayons
- outdoor games like Yardzee
- water guns
- buckets and shovels
- crafts and craft supplies
Pack a fully stocked first aid kit
Another important tip for family camping (or any kind of camping) is to bring along a fully stocked first aid kit. When you have kids camping with you, injuries can happen when you least expect it. Kids can be clumsy and scraped knees, splinters, or even cuts or burns do happen.
Make sure you pack some essentials for treating cuts, scrapes, and burns – like hydrogen peroxide, bandages, adhesive wrap, gauze pads, and an antiseptic cream-in case of emergencies. Bring along any medication your family takes or might need unexpectedly.
According to the Red Cross, a good first aid kit will include:
- 2 absorbent compress dressings (5 x 9 inches)
- 25 adhesive bandages (assorted sizes)
- 1 adhesive cloth tape (10 yards x 1 inch)
- 5 antibiotic ointment packets (approximately 1 gram)
- 5 antiseptic wipe packets
- 2 packets of aspirin (81 mg each)
- 1 emergency blanket
- 1 breathing barrier (with one-way valve)
- 1 instant cold compress
- 2 pair of nonlatex gloves (size: large)
- 2 hydrocortisone ointment packets (approximately 1 gram each)
- 1 3 in. gauze roll (roller) bandage
- 1 roller bandage (4 inches wide)
- 5 3 in. x 3 in. sterile gauze pads
- 5 sterile gauze pads (4 x 4 inches)
- Oral thermometer (non-mercury/nonglass)
- 2 triangular bandages
- Emergency First Aid guide
Pack the Right Shoes
No joke, this is one of my best tips for family camping. Shoes are so important. And when you’re camping, having comfortable shoes is even more important. You don’t want to end up with blisters on a hike! You also want to avoid melt downs when your child wants to be carried because their feet hurt.
Choose the right shoes for camping:
Hiking shoes: These are great for all outdoor activity, and they’re also the most supportive. They should have good ankle support to help prevent twisting your ankle and a sturdy sole to help keep your feet from getting sore.
Water sandals (or water socks): If you will be camping near a creek or lake or near any water, you’ll want to have water shoes for everyone in the family. Water shoes should provide great traction, so you don’t have to worry about falling on slippery rocks.
Sports sandals: These are perfect for kids and adults who want a shoe with more ventilation and plenty of support. Sports sandals can be good in warmer weather or as an alternative when water is not involved.
Athletic shoes: Some people like to wear their athletic shoes while camping for comfort. My girls and I have had a great experience with hiking through creeks in a pair of Nike running shoes with no socks. No blisters!
Camping with kids can definitely be a fun way to spend time together. If you want the trip to go as smoothly and stress-free as possible, make sure that you plan ahead by packing plenty of food for your family, some games and activities in case they get bored while away from home.
The more you camp with your family, the more you’ll learn what items work best and what’s not necessary. I hope these tips for family camping were helpful to you today! Have fun on your next camp out!