Kids love camping. It’s their chance to marvel at nature. Their chance to climb trees or find the perfect stick-sword, or their chance to see their family at the mercy of some ambiguous tent instructions. It’s a wonderful, coming-of-age experience that can shape them and how they approach the world around them, which is why packing all the right essentials is a good place to start.
But, how best is it to go camping with children? What about taking a baby camping? What should go on your packing list when camping with kids? Read on for lots of camping with kids’ tips!
Checklist: Camping with kids
- Make sure you have the right tent… You might have a tent that’s a festival season veteran or experienced the climes of Nepal on your gap year, but that two-person tent isn’t going to cut it anymore. Get something sturdy and a bit bigger than you think you’ll need; the extra space won’t go amiss when you’re camping with kids.
- … and something to sleep on. Nobody’s going to be in the mood to go on a country walk, forest bike ride or rock-climbing expedition if they haven’t had a good night’s sleep. Try a foam mat or an air mattress to keep you and your kids comfy and off the cold ground at night. This is one of the most important tips for camping with toddlers who often find new surroundings a bit stressful. A comfortable bed can really help settle them in.
- Devise your meal plan. When you’re thinking about what you need for camping with kids, lots of food is an absolute must. Think about meals you can prepare together over an outdoor stove (keeping a close eye on little ones) and bring containers to save leftovers for the next day. Be sure to always have a handy pack of pocket tissues just in case of spills.
- Have a screen agreement. It might be a bit drastic to leave your family’s devices off your packing list when camping with kids, but an agreed time for screens will help them see more of the great outdoors. This is especially important for camping with teenagers; a discussion about phone use in advance can save a lot of angst down the line.
- Be creative when it comes to entertainment. One of the best camping with kids’ tips is to take advantage of the time to try out new activities. In lieu of screens, get creative with your campsite entertainment. Have your swimwear, playing cards, torches for ghost stories, ball games, a pad of paper and some watercolour paints, wood carving tools, or a guitar for campfire singalongs all at the ready.
- Have a hygiene plan. This is one the most important tips for camping with toddlers in particular. Figure out your toilet situation and how camping toilets work if you’ll need them and make sure the kids know where they can wash their hands. Keep some wet wipes with you for cleaning hands before and after meals if there isn’t a tap nearby, and don’t forget to pack your moist toilet tissue to maintain the same toilet hygiene routine you’d have at home.
Want an easy way to add some home comfort to your family camping trip? Just pack some Cushelle toilet paper in your bag for some irresistibly cushiony soft feel-good factor while out in the field.
- Be responsible campers. List everything you’re going to take home with you when you’ve finished camping. This is a great way of teaching your kids about leaving no trace of your visit on the environment, and it means you won’t accidentally leave your little one’s teddy bear behind for its own adventure in the wilderness.
What about taking a baby camping? You’ll need to make a similar list all of the essentials from home (formula, baby food, milk) and put them in travel-sized containers so they’re easier to pack. Here’s what else to consider when camping with young kids and babies:
- Camp closer to home. If your baby isn’t quite ready for the outdoors yet, you’ll find it a lot easier to cut your trip short if there’s not a six-hour drive home.
- Keep the tent warm. Your baby will be colder than you are. Pack some extra blankets, some warm clothes to sleep in, or maybe only camp in the summer months.
- Find the right campsite: Look for a child-friendly campsite if you’re worried your little one’s crying might create some unhappy campers.
Camping with young kids, teenagers and even babies is a breeze with the right preparation. Just follow our checklist for camping with kids and remember, if your trip goes awry, you’ve at least got some inspiration for your next scary campfire story!