Tent camping…with three kids… all under the age of 7…yeah, we are brave! But camping is a great, budget-friendly, family vacation. My little crew loves to get out and make memories, but finances don’t always allow for a luxury, beach front hotel, get-away. On top of finances, Jeffrey and my work/vacation schedule don’t always line up. So camping allows us to get away from home and unwind a little, while also being able to commute to work, when needed. However, tent camping with little people can easily become more of a chore than a vacation. With our last trip, we learned, first hand, some tips and tricks to help make it an enjoyable trip for everyone!
- Have a plan and know what’s available that’s kid friendly.
I discovered when packing for a camping trip, 45 minutes from our home, I was packing a ton of stuff! I kept thinking I packed half the house up for 4 days of camping. I had no idea what we’d need or want and with little kids, you can never be too prepared. I definitely over-packed.
But, that’s ok! I walked away knowing that, next time, I’d have a plan. I’d do a little research and find out what was available and pack accordingly. Example – Hiking trails, ok bring the hiking shoes (my hubby hiked in flip flops…ouch!)
Campsites, just like any other business, have a website; the website will inform you of activities, parks, beaches, day to day shenanigans, etc. so you know what’s there, what you want to do and what to pack for it.
- Keep a bucket handy for nighttime bathroom emergencies.
We were several campsites away from the bathhouse, and during set up, I had a bit of a bathroom emergency. I basically threw the baby at my husband and took off for the bathroom. Fortunately, I made it, but I knew in that moment, if one of my kids was having too much fun and waited until the last minute before saying they had to go…we’d have an accident.
I informed them, upon my return, of the long walk and to make sure if they felt like they had to go to let us know right away. Keeping an empty bucket available for those last minute emergencies and also middle of the night wake ups is super helpful!
- Bring plenty of campsite entertainment and rainy day back-up activities.
Being that this was our vacation too, my husband and I wanted to be able to relax and unwind a little. That can be very hard to accomplish when your littles are bored. I, personally, like to give the kids their backpack and let them pick their own toys to pack. I also recommend bikes, scooters, rollerblades, etc. and some board games! Things they can do at, or close to, the campsite and all on their own, so mom and dad can sit around the campfire and throw their feet up!
Rain happens – it stinks when you’re camping, particularly tent camping because there’s a huge threat of the tent getting soaked. Bring some back up board games, coloring books or possibly a computer with a DVD to watch. Kids get really bored when they are trapped in a tent during a storm.
- Keep them hydrated, keep them caked in sunscreen and bug spray.
What can I say about this one…they will be stinky! My husband and I found Babyganics Mineral Based Sunscreen to be a big ‘YES’ especially for sensitive skin. We also like Swamp Gator Natural Bug Repellent, and for those who do oils, here’s a DIY Bug Spray!
Homemade Bug Spray Ingredients
- 30 drops geranium essential oil
- 30 drops citronella essential oil
- 20 drops lemon eucalyptus essential oil
- 20 drops lavender essential oil
- 10 drops rosemary essential oil
- 1 TBSP rubbing alcohol
- ½ cup natural witch hazel
- ½ cup water
- 1 tsp vegetable glycerin (optional but helps ingredients stay combined)
- Pack everything in plastic totes with lids.
This one, we learned the hard way, we ended up having to pack up and leave a day early because an unexpected storm rolled through, while we were out, and we returned to a little lake in our tent. Sleeping bags, clothes, coloring books, shoes, all soaked! So, my advice is this, keep everything in plastic totes with lids and close them up when you leave the campsite. And, even when it’s disgusting hot, close the tent up while out and about!
- Don’t forget shower shoes!
I don’t think you ever think about how nasty those showers really are, you probably don’t want to think about it. But, one thing I am terrible at remembering is shower shoes! Fortunately, Walmart carries a giant bin of 98 cent flip flops that work great and are super cheap! If you forget, a quick trip into Walmart can save you!
- Last, but not least, let them have fun.
I’m pretty strict and structured in my home, I am teaching them to be responsible, pick up after themselves, share, be kind, etc. but, while on vacation, I wanted them to let loose a little. Let them be little, let them be wild, let them explore and be adventurers! Allow them to be on vacation too and don’t worry about the small things! Make memories with your babies that will last a lifetime! <3
And, that’s it, a list of some things I picked up on my first camping trip, as a parent, with little kids. It was a blast and even though I had to work and was worried about being exhausted, I look back now, and I’m so glad I said yes.