Early fall is a great time to take your kids camping, the campgrounds are less busy and the weather is still good. Camping with kiddos is a lot of work but so worth it! Here are some tips and tricks that have helped us
survive enjoy camping with little ones.
- Location, location, location. Make sure you choose a campground that takes reservations! Most campgrounds are unlikely to be full this time of year, but the last thing you want is to have to drive around with a car full of bored kids looking for another spot. Be sure it has the amenities that you want: flush toilets, showers, power, water access, etc.
- Be prepared. The Boy Scouts are onto something here. Meals should be easy so you’re not stressed and taking valuable time away from adventuring. Prepare any ingredients you can a head of time so that you are just heating and serving there – cut any vegetables, clean all fruit, grate/slice your cheese, pre cook meat, etc. before hand – this one tip can be life changing. Consider this for your food-prep soundtrack:
- Get a tent bigger than you think you need. Think about everything that has to go into your tent: an adult sleeping area, child sleeping area (a pack ‘n play with a portable changing station is key for littles), and perhaps a dog bed for your other camping companion. If you are nursing, you’ll want to bring a chair in the tent for any night feedings, your bags, AND you still need room to walk around. All of this means an 8-10 person tent will probably be just right!
- Entertainment. If you have a little one, you’re going to need a safe place to strap in the baby so that you can get things done! You can use a play yard, high chair, or a baby carrier (just make sure they aren’t too close to the fire pit – smoke changes direction.) For big kids, bring them lots of toy options, Good ones are scooters/bikes, balls, frisbees, favorite board/card games, corn hole, anything to keep them busy while you are getting ready for outings or cooking meals.
- Baby wipes. You really can’t bring enough baby wipes! Whether you are camping with babies or teenagers, they are a necessity.
- Make a list. We use Wunderlist (https://www.wunderlist.com) an app for making lists that you can share with multiple people. Anyone invited to the list can add and delete items from the list. Make a list of food, camping gear, and clothes (over pack the kids clothes – they get dirty just by stepping out of the car.) The best part of this app is that you can see what has been deleted…”did I really put toothpaste on the list or am I just imagining it?”
- Snacks. I know this goes without saying but kids run on snacks and this is never truer than when you are camping. They are probably being crazier than at home and need to keep fueling that fire! Pack high-impact snacks like nuts, cheese, meat, jerky, etc.
- Be flexible. You may have a list of things you want to do/see but don’t feel like you failed if it doesn’t happen. Sometimes the best trips are spent playing games at the campsite and having quality family time.
- Have a backup plan! Things don’t always turn out the way you want them too. Is the tent no longer waterproof? Is someone all of the sudden afraid of the dark? Someone get too crazy and hurt themselves? Make sure you know where the nearest hotel, Target, and emergency room are located – just in case.