Pulling off a perfect trip for camping with kids is not easy, but it is not impossible too. It is very exciting to go camping, but it is even more much fun if you have prepared well for the trip. Because you are going with the entire family, you will have to do meticulous preparation. Thus, you have to create an inventory of the things you will need for the vacation and then one by one, ensure that you have packed everything. You can see that one needs to plan weeks ahead before setting out on the camping expedition.
- #1 Know the benefits of taking the kids with you
- #2 Preparation – involve the kids
- #3 Practice with kids at home
- #4 Selecting your destination
- #5 Carry the right clothing
- #6 While you are on the road
- #7 When you get to the campsite, let them help
- #8 Plan for indoor and outdoor activities
- #9 Let the children do things they cannot do at home
- #10 If you have a baby …
- What do you think?
#1 Know the benefits of taking the kids with you
Yes, that is a very important question there. Why should you take the kids camping with you? There are many reasons, but here are a few of them:
- Expose them to a world bigger than their urban home compound
- Teach them survival and self dependency skills that they will depend on in future
- Open up their mind to new interests like biology, botany, zoology, geology and so on
- Create some great bonding time with them
- Get them away from all the electronic jungle they live with at home
- Teach them to cook, make a fire, interact with other campers and so on
There is every reason for you to bring your kids with you for that camping vacation and anyway, it beats having to employ a live-in nanny to take care of them while you are away.
#2 Preparation – involve the kids
Firstly, this is not your trip, it is for the entire family. Therefore, you will have to involve the kids too, in the decision-making. Give them many choices of camping sites and then let them choose where they would like to go.
Ask them where they would like to go, what toys they would like to bring and if possible, they can also bring their pets. Even though you may not like some of their ideas, indulge them by explaining to them why such and such an idea is not good. Let them know that you are taking their suggestions seriously and you will be surprised at the ideas that they can churn out of those little heads of theirs.
Prepare a list of what you will require for the trip, that is, the camping gear, utensils, lighter, torches and lantern, cooking stove, sleeping bags, camping toilets, camping chairs, medication, books, tent, camping cots, food, water, emergency kits and many more. When you have the kids with you, you know that you can never be too careful. It is better to err on the side of caution.
#3 Practice with kids at home
Once you have bought your cots, sleeping bags or other camping gear that requires setting up, practice with the kids how to use them. This is very important. You want to teach them self-reliance from early on. In the backyard, you can practice setting up the tents, camping cots, packing and unpacking them and you can even teach them how to cook, select the best spot for camping and so on. You are doing this for fun, so let them have their fun. You will not regret it at all.
If you have one kid, you may consider allowing them to bring a friend or two at the campsite, of course, with the permission of the other parents. Camping gets more exciting when one camps with age mates. While you lounge lazily in the sun cradling a book, your kids will be playing with their peers.
#4 Selecting your destination
Where will you go for camping? It would probably be ridiculous to take a 2 year old kid camping in the Himalayas. Thus, you need to choose a good, kid-friendly camping site. There are so many destinations for camping. You can select sites that are in the mountains especially in summer as the air there will be cool and there are bound to be many hiking and even riding trails.
You could also choose camping sites that are close to or on beaches. Just choose what is most convenient for your family. Also, it is a good idea to take them to a place they have never visited before. Create a lasting impression on the minds of the children and you will be their hero, at least until they hit teenage and start those rebellious tantrums.
#5 Carry the right clothing
The destination that you choose will determine the type of clothing that you carry for your kids. The most important thing is long sleeved jumpers and jackets to protect their arms, that is, if you think you will go hiking with them. If you are going to be camping on an open site, for example, on the beach, you can carry shorts, t-shirts and sandals for them.
One of the essential pieces of camping equipment is sleeping bag. Don’t underestimate the importance of chhosing the right sleeping bag for your kids. See how to choose the right sleeping bag for your kids in this article.
#6 While you are on the road
Hitting the road is definitely an adventure for everyone. However, soon, there will be little voices from the back asking, “are we there yet?”. Now, that can be a bit too much. You want to bring things that will keep the children occupied while you are on the road.
They can carry their books to read, or they can watch their cartoons on the motorhome’s entertainment system if you have had one installed. They can also catch a movie on tablets or just play a game of “I spot a …”.
Make toilet stops as soon as they request. If there is no motel or filling station nearby, you may have to use the camping toilets or let them go in the bush.
Bring enough snacks and drinks. Kids do get really hungry. Also, make the trip fun and be ready to stop at a moment’s notice to let the children explore things that they see along the road. Such small things make the trip even more fun.
#7 When you get to the campsite, let them help
You are all on the same team. You packed everything together and it is only reasonable that you unpack together. In fact, it is recommended that every kid pack his/her own backpack. That way, they will largely be responsible for their items. If everyone has their own sleeping bag, teach them how to stuff it in and unpack it. For motivation, you can give small rewards for a job well done.
There will be a lot of work to do when you get to the campsite. For example, you will have to set up your tents, your hand washing area, cooking area and so on. You will need all the help that you can get. If you do not have a shower area in the motorhome, you will have to set that up too. The same with the toilet (if there is none at the camping site).
Remember to teach your children some campsite manners. For example, if there are other families in the camp site, they should always go around and not through the family circles. They should also treat other children and elders with respect.
Also teach them to never wander far from their camp home. Kids do get lost.
#8 Plan for indoor and outdoor activities
Before you know it every morning, your kids will be out of their sleeping bags, waiting to eat breakfast and head out to explore their surroundings. However, at times, the weather will not allow that. Thus, you should plan for indoor and outdoor activities before you leave home for the camping vacation.
Some of the outdoor activities include hiking, bike riding, swimming if you are at the beach, bird watching and any other they can do. You might be feeling a little less on energy, but do join the kids outside and have fun, burn some calories. The experience beats sitting on an office chair anytime.
Look for animals, insects, wild flowers and trees. Explore things. Record new things, take pictures. Make this trip memorable.
Here are some more ideas about outdoor activities:
- Go hiking for an hour or two in the woods or mountains
- Visit a nearby nature center
- Watch sunset and sunrise together
- Go on a night walk with flashlights
- Take bicycles with you and explore surroundings on wheels
- Go boating or kayaking if you are staying nearby the lake
Some of the indoor activities that you can do include:
- Playing cards
- Simple crossword puzzles
- You can also let the children improvise some games.
#9 Let the children do things they cannot do at home
Do you need some water fetched? Assign that duty to the children. What about firewood? That too. Mostly, it will depend on the camp site rules. They can also help you set the camping shower, help assemble the camping cot and disassemble it, and so on. You can also allow the older children to cook the simple meals on open fire. These activities will give them an experience that they will never forget.
#10 If you have a baby …
Bring along a few extra items if you have a baby. For example, you will need a sports stroller, one that can negotiate the rough terrains of the camping site. Other things that you may bring include:
- Baby food packed in jars
- Ready-to-take formula
- Extra baby clothing
- Sleeping mattress, good for the whole family to lounge in the sun or sleep together
- Carry enough toys with you
- GPS locator for babies
- A whistle for each of the family members. They can blow if they get lost
You would love to take your kids along with you to a camping expedition. This is a nice way to bond with your kids especially if you are always at work and there is never enough time to spend with them. Camping with your family will be fun, but plan it out carefully.
BONUS: If you still doubt about whether to take your kids camping, read this short article about summer camping for children.
What do you think?
Hey, do you know any other valuable tips and tricks how to make camping with kids a great experience? Leave a comment below…