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Tips for camping with kids

Tips for camping with kids

Are you thinking of taking a camping trip with your kids soon? 

Many parents fantasise about memories of great family outdoor trips and adventures with kids from their childhood. While camping with kids can be overwhelming, it offers a fun and excellent experience.

Children tend to love the fantasy of sleeping under tents, waking up in the countryside, and the excitement of living and eating outdoors.

Camping is a fantastic way for families to reconnect away from the stresses of everyday life. 

Children of all ages enjoy camping, from babies to teens, as it awakens their senses to their natural environment.

However, taking kids on a camping trip needs preparation and the proper knowledge for the journey to be rewarding. 

Here are our top ideas and tips for camping with kids for a stress-free adventure. 

Whether you're planning your first camping trip with kids or are a veteran, these camping tips may change the way you plan it:

Practice Camping at Home

A backyard campout

Did you know you can pitch a tent in your backyard or living room? Let your kids sleep in the tent, hang out in it, and see how they react to the new experience. This way, you can return to your beds in the middle of the night if things don't go as planned. 

Camping at home also helps to know that no camping gear parts are missing. 

Pack Food Kids Love

Let your kids contribute to meal planning by asking them what they want to eat. Pack foods you know they like so they're excited about the trip. Ensure you've ready snacks that are easily accessible while on the go and at the campsite. 

Prepare delicious campsite foods to make the camping experience fun for the kids. Some of the simple camping foods meals include:

  • Camp nachos

  • Burritos

  • Fish in foil

  • Omelette

  • Tacos

Choose Family-Friendly Campsites

younger kids in a camp

Choose campsites with amenities and climates that suit your family's needs. Make the camping planning a family affair and ask your children for things they would love to do or see. Similarly, you can ask other families about their family-friendly campsites before deciding.  

If it's your first time camping with kids, start small and stick close to your home, and choose a campsite with lots of amenities. 

One of the things to look out for when camping with kids include:

  • Children play area

  • Onsite shop for essential camping treats like ice creams

  • Ideally, no cars on site for safety purposes

Organise Your Camping Gear

Rent or borrow camping gear and organise them in totes for easy access. Use cardboard boxes or clear plastic bins to keep your tent, kitchen supplies, and sleeping bags in separate compartments. Use a camping checklist so you don't forget essential equipment. 

Pack Camping Supplies in Clear Tubs

supplies packed in tubs

Organise your camping items and label them for easy spotting. Just like your house, your tent is your home away from home. Organise your bins in the following categories:

  • Food and snacks

  • Kitchen supplies

  • Tents and sleeping bags

  • Toys

  • Clothes and laundry

  • Bathroom and bathing

  • Music and entertainment

Involve Your Kids

three kids setting up a camp

Giving your kids some camping tasks helps keep kids involved. Assign kids to appropriate tasks and teach them the basics. For example, younger children can help fill water bottles, pump sleeping pads, collecting firewood or roll out sleeping bags. On the other hand, the older children can help with more complex camp chores like preparing meals or wash out dishes.

There are two benefits of involving kids:

  • It keeps them busy and within your sight.

  • It helps them gain camping knowledge

Be Flexible

No matter how prepared you are, things may not turn out as planned. Flexibility can go a long way toward making your trip memorable and enjoyable. Sometimes, being adaptable and flexible is the most fun part of your camping journey. 

Create experiences as you camp, slow down and let go of strict timelines to enjoy every moment of your camping holiday. 

Be Prepared for Bad Weather


Kids in rainproof clothing on a rainy day

Checking the weather forecast plays a vital role during camping. Rain is very common, especially in overnight camping. 

Luckily, tents come with rain covers. Staying dry and warm is the key to a successful outdoor trip with kids. 

Dress the kids in layers so they can put on or take off the clothes as the temperature changes. 

Bring some rain gear like raincoats and boots. Moreover, be prepared for indoor tent activities such as colouring books or card games to continue enjoying your trip despite the bad weather. 

Give Your Kids Time to Explore Nature

kids exploring nature

Allow your kids to explore the nature trails near your campsite. For example, hiking is an excellent way to explore nature. You can even bring along a bird spotting book or plant identification book to identify the area plants, wildlife, or flowers. Look for wildlife, and identify birds, clouds, and flowers. Show interest in activities that interest your children.

Plan Outdoor Activities

An adult and kid hiking

Swimming, fishing, biking, hiking, collecting firewoods-there are lots of fun outdoor activities to enjoy. Let your kids choose new activities to try during the trip to make your camping adventure with them more fun. If you take your kids on a camping trip with no pre-planned outdoor activities, you may end up with bored children.

Stay Safe While Camping

Camping with kids offers many opportunities for outdoor activities and spending quality time with kids. However, the good times outdoors come with dangers. 

Following camping safety tips and practices is essential for a successful camping trip. 

Once you get to the campsite, set ground rules and boundaries on where they can play and what they need to do in case, they get lost. For example, you can give them a whistle to blow if they get lost. Ensure they have access to a headlamp or flashlight to use at night. 

Park Campsite Toys

kids playing with toys outside

Camping with kids is one of the best ways to spend much-needed time with nature.

With sticks, bugs, rocks, trees, and wildlife to explore, having a small collection of children's campsite toys is an excellent addition.

Camping is exciting and fun; adding a few camping toys or games to your camping essentials list can make it more memorable. 

From magnifying glasses, colouring books, binoculars, bubbles, squirt guns, balls, chalk, walkie-talkies, scavenger hunts, etc.

Pick the Right Tent

A set up tent

While camping with kids is quite challenging, choosing the right tent shouldn't be hard. Choose a tent you can use as a bedroom as well as a living room, especially when it rains. You'll need enough space for the kids to move around and play their favourite games. 

Here are a few factors to keep in mind when choosing your camping tent:

  • Size of the tent

  • Weight and packability

  • Ease of set up

  • Durability

  • Shape and accessories

Organise Kids' Items in a Separate Box

Basic and crucial items should be easily accessible. Ensure to have extra diapers, rash creams, and other important items. Keeping kids' items separate ensures they don't find matchsticks, lighters, or other dangerous items.  

Stash your Valuables

Store your phones, chargers, keys, wallets, etc., in zip-top plastic bags to keep them safe from food and spills and for easy accessibility. 

Explore Other people's Campsites

Check out where other families go camping. Do they have enough security or safety? Are there enough amenities suited to your family's needs? If it's your first time camping with kids, pick the most visited campsite depending on your kids' interests and the pre-planned activities.  

Plan Your Trip Ahead

Start planning your trip a few weeks or even months before camping. Have all the essentials set and prepare your children emotionally. 

When you get to the campsite, position your tents far from trees to avoid falling branches. Also, before you let the kids out to explore nature, watch out for hazardous waste, unwelcome insects or animals, and broken glasses.  

Leave Electronic Devices at Home

Get the kids off the screens and leave their gadgets at home. Like you, children need a break from the constant world of games and noise from phones or television. 

While this may sound harsh, they'll learn to value nature and connect to the natural world. Let them enjoy electronic-free camping activities. 

Embrace Dirt

kids playing in dirt

Let's face it. Children will get dirty while camping. Give them room to get messy. They'll get dust everywhere, mud on their shoes, food particles on their hair, etc. 

If there is no running water, have a small bucket of soapy water and a camp rug and set them outside your tent door to keep the inside of your tent tidy. 

Add special touches

Let your kids enjoy the camping treat by adding one or two special items to your camping item list. Consider packing kid-size camp chairs, glow sticks, and other kids camping gear. Give your children their headlamps or flashlights to light the tent. 

Plan Easy Meals and Snacks

Outdoor meals for young kids

Prepare delicious campsite foods to make the camping experience more fun for the whole family. Some of the simple camping foods meals include:

  • Instant oatmeal

  • Campfire popcorns

  • Hot dogs

  • Toasting marshmallows

  • Peppers foil pack and sausages

  • Trail mix

  • Camping quesadillas

  • Chocolate digestive s'mores

Pro Tip: Don't keep food inside your tent or close to it to avoid attracting wildlife. Instead, lock it in the car or use provided camping gear boxes. 

Pack First Aid Items

Pack your first aid kit, bug spray, sunscreen, and a tick puller. Keep these items in the same spot so that they're easily accessible when you need them. 

Pitch an Extra Tent for Teens

Consider bringing an extra tent for your privacy-craving teenagers to give them a little independence. You can even allow them to bring a friend or camp with other older kids from another family.

Set Up a Handwashing Station

DIY hand washing station

A hand and foot washing station is essential for any campsite, particularly when exploring with kids. Ensure you bring enough water for drinking, bathing, cooking, and hand washing stations. Additionally, pack hand-washing soap and wash clothes to scrub the dirt off, especially between kids' tiny toes.

Stick to Your Routine As Much as Possible

While sticking to your daily bedtime routine may be pretty challenging, keep close to it as much as possible. 

Lights streaming in the tent and noises of other kids playing outside the tent can make it challenging to convince the kids to sleep.

To handle this, pour yourself a glass of our favourite wine and allow them to play a little longer. The more energy they use playing, the better they will sleep. 

Camping With Kids Checklist and Essential Items

You don't want to get to your destination ( particularly if you're in a reasonably remote area) only to find out you've forgotten some essentials. Create a list of the essential items to bring on your trip.

  • Tent with rainwater

  • Baby wipes and antibacterial wipes

  • Lighter

  • sleeping bag

  • Dry wood for a campfire

  • Sleeping bags, blankets, and pillows

  • Mattress pad

  • Mattress pump

  • Food supplies

  • Toilet papers

  • Ziplock bags

  • Lighting (lanterns, flashlights, headlamps, head torches)

  • Coolers to keep food cold and fresh

  • Tents

  • Hand sanitiser

  • Drinking water

More tips for camping with kids

  • Respect wildlife and don't disturb their lifestyle

  • Plan your trip ahead of time

  • Don't leave traces. Leave the campsite the way you found it.

  • If camping with other families, don't encroach on their space or disturb their peace

  • Use small chunks of campfire wood to avoid big fires, and ensure you put the fire out before going to sleep.

  • Before you check in to your tent at night, check out for bugs or other tiny incense and animals. 

The Bottom Line

Camping with kids is one of the most overwhelming yet exciting outdoor adventures that leave long-lasting memories. We hope these great tips and tricks for a family camping trip help you create a memorable adventure for your family. For more tips to camp with kids, check out our website.

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