We love new adventures, hikes, and camping with kids during the year and especially during the summer! We take at least one long trip each year and usually a few day trips throughout the year too. Here are a few camping and hiking tips that have made our trips with 3 kids easier (and more fun for everyone)!
We have done many different kinds of “camping” including a week in a tent just outside of Yosemite, staying in a small cabin with NO bathroom, and once in a “fancier” place that had a shower/bathroom. Of course it is much easier if you choose a location with a bathroom very near by if you are tenting it but sometimes that isn’t possible so you need to be prepared for the worst scenario when camping with kids (just in case).
First we will start with the load road trip before you get to your campsite, these road trip busy bags have made our trips a lot more bearable. I make sure everyone has their own backpack near their seat in the car with “their items” in it that they can access easily. Here are a few items I make sure to bring (affiliate links present):
Camping with kids
- Their own regular sized backpack
- Notepad and pencil (colored pencils and markers for older children)
- Headphones (much better than ear buds for kids) with an iPod, iPad, iTouch
- Kids word search or coloring book for younger children
- New toy(s) (I take a trip to the Dollar Store for new trinkets before we leave)
- Small Etch a Sketch
- Road Trip I SPY printable (keeps them busy – can print for free)
As far as packing goes do NOT bring anything you do not want ruined. We have a basket in my middle daughter’s closet where I throw shirts that have gotten a stain on them but still fit, and the same with jeans/shorts. There’s also a bin of shoes that were replaced because they were nasty but still fit in our garage. When they are playing outside, going on a hike, or I am packing for a camping trip I use these clothes. Not only will you not worry about them ruining their shoes and clothing but they will have more fun not worrying about becoming filthy (that’s part of the camping fun). Let them choose what they want to wear out of the items you brought and don’t worry about matching, it’s time to be FReeeee!
Here are things to pack for camping and you can print it out free here:
Over the years (and a few trips where we forgot a lot of things we needed) we have found items that have made the kids happier,,,,, and our time more pleasant. Here are a few things to bring when camping with kids:
- Kids Camelbak – keep them hydrated and they can drink whenever they want without you finding their water over and over again.
- Portable potty – I have used this on the long trip too (keep accessible in back of car) and times when the bathrooms were really far at 3a.m.
- Kids sunglasses – they think they are cool and it makes long days in the sun more pleasant for them
- Lip balm – give them one of their own to keep in their backpack
- Their own backpack – I cannot stress this enough, unload after the road trip and all hikes and days they take it with them with snacks etc..
- Hat – makes for a much more pleasant day and keeps noses from getting as burned
- Water shoes – especially if you are by a lake/river you can wade in while you are camping (use in public bathrooms/showers too)
- Small binoculars – take them with you while hiking and it makes it a lot more fun
- Their favorite blanket or animal – nights away from home can be scary, let them bring their “comfort item” camping
Another thing that makes camping with kids fun is letting them explore and creating crafts with what they’ve found when you get home! Rocks can become “friends” and so can pinecones with a little imagination. Of course you should probably limit them to a few per person but it’s a fun way to have a “souvenir” from your camping trip. Make sure to go for hikes and explore your surroundings, that’s fun! Here’s a free Nature Hike I SPY printable to print out before you leave that they will love!
Of course you can’t plan for everything, but items like these have made our trips much more pleasant and have made the kids want to go camping year after year. Bring foods they like and try some easy camping recipes while you’re there, bring lots of snacks and if you have a few kids who are a bit older you can let them sleep in their own tent and you and your spouse in another (my kids love this).
To locate free camp sites visit my post here and have a blast together!!
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