Worry-free, kids and camping are three words you’d never expect to see in the same sentence.
From packing to driving the family to the campsite, setting up a tent, getting food ready, and entertaining your kids - this can all feel like a ton of work. Is it even worth it? If you’ve been second-guessing the idea of taking your kids camping, you’re not alone; however, don’t throw in the towel just yet.
First of all, these two things are worth it -- kids and camping. It allows everyone to disconnect from the world and reconnect with each other. Think about all the memories you’ll make and the traditions you’ll pass on to your little ones.
Secondly, camping doesn’t have to feel like a chore. With adequate preparation and a few tips, you and your kids will have a blast camping together. To help you achieve this, here are 9 tips for a stress-free camping experience with toddlers.
1.) Choose the Location Wisely
The key to ensuring your kids enjoy camping is picking the right grounds. Look for camping sites that offer family-oriented or kid-friendly amenities, such as a playground or kids' pool.
This way, there’ll be activities they can engage in that don’t require a lot of supervision. This, in turn, allows you to unwind or do other things while they play.
2.) Make a Reservation
When camping alone, you can drive to any campground and probably get a spot without prior reservation.
But when you’re camping with kids, this is one risk you’ll want to avoid. You don’t want to pull up to the designated campgrounds and discover that there aren’t any spots left with your kids in tow.
3.) Plan Meals in Advance
Another tip that’s sure to make your camping stress-free is planning meals in advance. Write down the meals you’ll prepare each day. Next, pack all the ingredients you need to bring these dishes to life. This printable meal planner will make this process easy.
Remember to include all the extra items you’ll need when creating the list of ingredients. This includes condiments, cutlery, cooking equipment, trash bags, and hand wipes.
4.) Engage Your Kids
You can have your children take up different roles if they are old enough. Doing so offers two key benefits.
For one, it keeps them engaged, freeing you to handle the more taxing duties. Secondly, it presents an opportunity to bond with your little one while also teaching them to be responsible. Here are a few task ideas to assign to kids:
- Collecting kindling
- Deflating things
- Taking tent poles apart
- Collecting trash and sweeping the tent
- Washing dishes
5.) Dial Down on the Nighttime Routine
Do you follow a strict nighttime routine where your kids sleep by 7 pm on school days? If you do, you’ll want to take things down a notch when camping, especially during summer. This way, you won’t struggle to get your kids to sleep while the sun is still up.
Instead of ordering them to sleep early, devise fun evening activities for the entire family. For instance, you can set up a campfire and roast some s’mores while storytelling. Other activities include campfire skits, stargazing, singing, and playing music.
6.) Safety Is Key
With kids, you never know what to expect. They could be playing around the camp one minute and then cycling down a trail that heads to a lake the next minute.
This is why you should always be prepared with a couple of safety items. These include a First Aid kit, some sunscreen, and bug spray. Staying on top of your kids’ safety ensures you won’t cut your trip short because of an accident.
In addition to this, be sure to set some boundaries. For instance, don’t allow them to ride their bikes or explore past the campgrounds. If they have to, then they should be accompanied by an adult. Similarly, they should keep off parking lots, busy roads, and other high-traffic areas.
7.) Start Gradually
If you have zero experience camping with kids, taking things slow is good. In fact, you don’t even have to rent out a place in the woods. A cabin or campsite located close to civilization works better. This way, you have easy access to a town in case you forget any essential supplies.
8.) Buy a Portable Camping Toilet
If camping alone, you probably wouldn't mind squatting over a hole in the woods to do your business. But when camping with kids, you have to consider their comfort. And this makes a portable camping toilet a must-have.
This accessory offers massive convenience, especially when visiting a campsite with crowded, unsanitary toilets. It also comes in handy for families that have to take long road trips to get to their campsite.
9.) Test Everything
If this is the first time that you’ll be camping as a family, you’re better off having a mock trial. Set one night aside to camp in your backyard.
During this trial camp, set up the tent as you would if you were on the campgrounds. This way, you won’t end up experiencing a stressful start once you go on the actual expedition. Here are a couple of things you should consider during your test run:
- Do you have all the gear you need?
- Do you understand how every piece of camping equipment works?
- Are there any appliances that ought to be charged in advance?
- Do the sleeping arrangements work for everyone?
The Bottom Line
This may seem like a no-brainer, but when you're camping with kids, planning in advance is good.
Find a child-oriented campsite with fun activities for kids and make a reservation. You'll also want to plan meals prior, look for necessary safety gear, ditch the bedtime routine, and invest in a portable camping toilet.
An easy way to ensure everyone enjoys camping is to schedule a test run. Plan a backyard camping session and do everything as you would if you were at the campsite. This will help you know what you need (or don’t). This also helps you figure out if every camping appliance is working properly.