Want to plan a camping trip but don’t know how to keep the whole family happy? Relax. Camping with kids doesn’t have to be stressful. Focus on creating lasting memories with these eight tips.
Don’t forget the camera. (And don’t forget to put it down sometimes, too.) Get your family involved in taking photos of your adventure. If you use your cell phone’s camera, make sure you have a way to keep it charged. Otherwise pack extra batteries and memory cards as needed.
Make a list. Before you leave your house, make a list of everything you think you’ll need, and check it off as you pack it. Ensure you have key items like bug spray, sunscreen, flashlights, extra batteries, and first aid supplies.
Over pack. While you’re making your list, build in some padding. We don’t always advise this, but packing a little more than you need (e.g., food, clean clothes, toilet paper, blankets) can keep cranky campers happy. Don’t assume that you and the kids will be able to tough it out with less. Making everyone comfortable will go a long way towards a great day.
Plan for a mess. Camping isn’t the time to keep everyone clean and neat. Trust us—everything will get dirty. A few dishes in the dirt and some grass stains are nothing to stress over. Let the kids get a little wild, and then toss all the gross stuff in an extra bag before you head home.
Keep meals simple. We know haute campfire cuisine exists, but your little ones may not have the patience for it. Plan familiar meals that don’t require too many ingredients—breakfast, burgers, and hot dogs are perennial pleasers. Pack lots of easy-to-pack fresh fruit (e.g., bananas, apples, and oranges) and sandwiches, particularly those that may not need to be refrigerated (e.g., nut butters and jelly). Juice boxes and bottled water are great, too. It also helps having a designated snack basket for on-the-go kid noms. And don’t forget the s’mores!
Keep ‘em busy. When you’re not fishing, hiking, swimming, or otherwise engaging in a family activity, assign chores. Chores will keep your kids busy (not bored) and will provide them with a sense of responsibility and accomplishment. Most kids will be able to gather firewood, set up tents, wash dishes, or tidy the campsite.
Nix the electronics. Leave your gaming consoles, tablets, laptops, and extraneous cell phones at home. Focus on family time rather than Facebook updates.
Be flexible. Just roll with the mood of the day. If you’ve planned a day of hiking but everyone seems to be enjoying something else, don’t interrupt. Adjust your schedule and your expectations.
Interested in some camping activities to plan for while you’re there? Check out 15 Fun Camping Activities For Kids by Kara of The Joys of Boys!