Summer is upon us and it’s time to enjoy everything it has to offer. For us, that means camping! I grew up camping and, as a parent, I love sharing the experience with my own kids. However, I realize that my experience as a kid and my experience as a parent are vastly different. My parents really put in the work to make our trips as smooth as possible and now I’m doing the same. From a seasoned camper, here are my top five tips on how to make camping with kids easier.
Pack Extra Clothes
When camping with kids, I highly recommend prepping for all weather and bringing extra. Bringing a full extra outfit for each day — yes, even pjs too — is going to save you a lot of heartache on the last day when clothes are running short. Camping is full of dirt, water, and messes, so it’s good to be prepared so that you don’t have to police your kids’ fun and can instead just change their clothes when they’re overly messy. I’m sharing what we take on an average weekend for our kids:
- Four pairs of pants
- Four t-shirts
- Two long-sleeve shirts
- Two sweaters
- One jacket
- Four bathing suits
- Four pairs of socks
- Four pairs of underwear
- One rain coat
- Two pairs of shoes
- Hats, gloves, and boots if there’s a chance it will be cold
Let it Go and Take a Car Nap
That’s right, Mama. Let it go — the routine, the mess, all of it — just let it go. To each their own, but when we go camping, I don’t stick to a strict schedule. If I feel the kids are getting tired, then I utilize our car to its full advantage. A quick spin around the campground usually does the trick to help them doze off, otherwise it’s roll with it and go with the flow. We often camp with my parents who have a completely different routine than us and that’s okay for a weekend. I just go with whatever everyone is feeling. I find that my kids are usually so tired at the end of each day from being outside that it doesn’t matter that we didn’t follow a strict routine.
This is specifically going to pertain to food. Set a menu for the weekend and be prepared with what you want to eat, especially when camping with others. I tend to follow a stricter diet than most of the people we camp with and if I don’t prepare for us to have food then I end up eating things that make me feel awful. Whatever your diet is like, make sure you bring things you and your kids actually enjoy eating so that you don’t end up eating things you don’t want to!
Logistics for Tent Campers
If you are tent camping, this section is for you. Tent camping can be a lot of fun, but when you have littles you want to make sure you’re super prepared. These are my suggestions to make camping with kids easier in a tent!
Make sure you bring a tarp for both under your tent and over the tent in case of rain. Bring lots of extra blankets because Michigan nights can be chilly, a fan to keep it cool during the day, and a space heater for at night. Don’t forget an air mattress if you’re not interested in sleeping on the ground. Flashlights for light at night and a portable potty for the kids so you’re not rushing to a bathhouse. Try to get a site as close to the bathroom as possible for your own middle of the night or daytime trips.
Camping Essentials to Make Camping with Kids Easier
I have a laundry list of items I bring with us when camping with kids to make sure we’re always prepared. Here is my list of must-have, don’t-forget items:
- Sunscreen: This is our favorite
- Bug spray
- Beach towels
- Toiletry items: soap, shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrushes, shower shoes
- Paper plates/utensils
- Water bottles
- First aid kit: specifically including something for bites/stings and splinters
- Sun shade/umbrella if you have small kids
- Beach toys
- Wagon to carry all your things to the beach