Camping with Kids
5 tips to make camping with kids a success
Camping with kids is fun… mostly. It is a lot of work, but the payoff is worth it!
Since our eldest was a year old we’ve been camping and have many trips under our belt. Now, with three kids and a dog in tow. We’ve learned a lot along the way.
Here are five tips that have helped us make our trips smoother!
1. Meal Prep
Premake everything! I spend a lot of time prepping food. I make a few casseroles, burgers, freeze single portions of cooked meat. I precut vegetables and fruit. I bake the kids’ favourite snacks – muffins, cereal bars and granola bars. Then when we’re away I reap the benefits of the effort! Minimal cooking, the kids eat well and I’m much more relaxed. Find 8 easy food prep ideas here!
2. Clothing Essentials
I used to try and pack light, then we were ALWAYS missing something. Especially here on the west coast where the weather changes daily. Now I pack the kids rain gear, fleece clothes, base layers, UV suits, jelly jumpers, boots… everything. I also pack an extra pair of knit shoes for going in and out of the trailer/tent (it must be shoes they’re able to put on and off independently).
3. Bring a Toy Bin
I didn’t used to pack toys either. I felt there was enough for them to do, exploring outside. Well, that didn’t work so now I make a toy bin. I found toys the kids LOVE but the novelty has worn off. I packed them away, along with sidewalk chalk, sand toys, wagon and flashlights and put them in a bin. The bin only comes out when we’re camping, and the kids have so much fun with it.
4. Don’t Forget Indoor Activities
I keep a few indoor activities hidden away for a rainy or quiet day. Reusable sticker pads are a big hit with all the kids, along with lego/duplo, colouring and family games. I also like bringing messier things like playdoh or slimy sand and setting the kids up at the picnic table with a tablecloth (under a canopy if it’s raining) and they’ll stay there playing for an hour.
5. Have Extras on Hand
It’s so hard to remember every single thing you need. We used to end up stopping at a store on our way to the campsite because we realized something was left at home. Now I keep doubles of things in our trailer. Toiletries, kids Advil, diapers, wipes, playpen, towels, swimsuits, etc. After a trip I’ll bring things inside to wash, then they go back into our camping gear so as not to be forgotten next time! It’s been a lifesaver and worth the cost because then I’m not last-minute shopping while we’re away.
Along with these tips, I found the most important thing is to manage your expectations. Camping with kids is not the same as it was before kids. And that’s okay! Every time you go, it’ll get easier. And in the end, the memories make all the effort worth it.
Alex Turner is a journalist turned stay-at-home mom. Read more about her adventures on her blog!