If you know anything about me or have followed me for some time now, you know that I love being outdoors. I love anything from running to hiking to biking to kayaking. At a very young age, my Dad instilled the love for the outdoors. Having three girls himself, I think he wasn’t all that excited to play dress-up and dolls, so he took us to what he knew best- outside! I have such fond memories as a child of riding bikes in Peachtree City and going camping during the summer.
Josh and I took Levi on his first camping trip when he was 3 years old. He had a blast and asked continually afterwards to go back! Now, I have taken Levi a dozen times to different campsites around Georgia, including our most recent Georgia Camping Road Trip in June that took us to 4 different campsites in 5 days. We had a blast and definitely plan on adding it to our summer plans each year from here on out!
I am no expert and I have only done pull-up to your campsite car-camping with Levi so far. I used to do a ton of primitive camping back in the day with backpacks and freeze dried foods, but I’m not quite there yet in taking the kids to do that. I plan on taking Abigail at some point within the next year to go camping, too. I wanted her potty trained and out of her pack-n-play before we did that and we have hit both of those milestones, so it’s just a matter of making it happen now!
I hope you find these tips helpful! Feel free to comment below and ask me any questions you may have! Enjoy your camping adventures!
10 Tips on Camping with Kids
1) Get a Large Tent– so here is something I have learned over the years of owning tents. Tents never fit the amount of people advertised. When a tent is called a 6 man tent, it CAN technically fit 6 people, but this is literally like sardines. Five across and one at the foot of everyone else with no room for any possible air mattresses or room to move. Our 4 man tent comfortably fits my husband and me with one of our kids; so get a larger tent than advertised on the packaging. Kids come with a lot of stuff and having a larger tent comes in handy with kids, especially if you have a little one who needs a pack-n-play.
This is our “4 man” tent that we use for a maximum of two adults and one kid (and Levi’s first camping trip at 3 years old!)
2) Start Small– if you’ve never gone camping before, don’t jump in head first for a weeklong trip. If you’ve never gone hiking before, a 6 mile hike isn’t probably the best idea. Start small. Take a night or maybe two at the most and see how things go and then go back another time for a longer trip. Some state parks have a two night minimum depending on the time of the year and popularity of the park, so look and make sure you can do just one night. Our first time we first took Levi when he was little, we booked two nights and then just stayed one night.
3) Keep the Meals Simple– generally when we go camping, I plan for one campfire meal a day, sometimes two. I tend to cook dinner over the fire and sometimes do a hot breakfast. Lunches are always sandwiches, especially since we’re usually out and about during lunch time. I bring a cooler with some basic items like eggs, milk, sandwich meat, cheeses, jelly, etc. A big bag of ice will last you a good two days keeping the food cool in the cooler. Obviously it will melt, but I have found that two days if opened only for meals tends to keep the food cold.
Great fire meals are hot dogs and hamburgers, Hobo Meals, and grilled chicken and veggies. I like to bring a thing of Italian dressing with me and use it as a marinating for the meats and veggies. It’s super simple and super tasty! Make sure you bring meals they like… and of course s’mores! You can’t go camping without s’mores!
Levi and Joe enjoying their hot dogs and other yummy food!
S’mores are always so good!
4) Rent a Site with Electricity and Water– you will thank me. Don’t go all hardcore with the kiddos around. Maybe at some later camp trips when you are more versed in camping, but having water and electricity is so clutch. It’s so nice to be able to pull water from the site and the use of electricity. It is important for me, especially when we use the kid’s sound machine. In the summer, I need a small fan to cool me off while I sleep, so I also need the electricity for that reason!
Definitely needed that water close by after getting sticky from all of the s’mores we ate!
5) Rent a Site Near a Restroom– seriously, with little kids, it is so convenient to have a site closer to the restroom. You don’t have to worry about smell or sound, at least I never have had issues. It doesn’t have to be right next to your site, but you don’t want to walk halfway across the campground to get to the restroom with little kids, especially in the middle of the night.
6) Find Parks that Have Things for the Kids to Do– Does your kid like to bike? Some parks have great concrete or dirt trails. Do they like to play in creeks? A lot of sites are right next to creeks! Are they big hikers? Look at the hiking trails they have available and the difficulty levels. AllTrails app is a great one for local hiking. TrailLink is another great app for hiking and biking trails. What are some of their favorite outdoor activities? Research the state parks ahead of time to see what they provide. Not all state parks are made the same. Where I live in Georgia, there are some great state parks, but they all provide different things.
Going on a hike with Mama and Daddy and taking pictures on a nature walk!
Kayaking at High Falls State Park
7) Bring Games, Toys, and DVD’s– card games like UNO or small board games are great to bring to fill in some time, especially if it rains. We don’t do a ton of movie watching, but we often will snuggle up at night before bed and watch a movie on our portable DVD player. During the summer it doesn’t get dark until after 9pm, so it’s hard for me to get my kids to bed in a tent before it’s dark, so a movie or game before bed is a great way to wind down.
8) Practice Camping at Home– if your kid has never slept in a tent before, it’s a great idea to try it in the backyard before you drive hours away and find out that your kid is terrified of sleeping outside and you’re stuck! Starting in the backyard a couple of times helps your kid get used to the idea of sleeping outside. Take a day trip or two to local state parks to see how they do on a long hike.
We did a lot of local hiking near us before we went on our first camp trip
9) Involve Your Kids– Levi LOVES helping me set up the tent and campsite. His job at each site is to help me unload and reload the car. He helps me collect kindling for the fire, too. Include them and they will have more fun! You can even make up jobs for them to help out to keep them busy and/or let them feel like they are helping.
Levi “helping” Mama get dinner ready by stacking rocks on the grill top.
Levi walking around to help me find kindling for our fire!
10) Be Flexible– No matter how prepared you are, things may not go the way you planned. Remember that all you can do is create a good structure for your kids to camp. The best part of going outside is that you create experiences as you go. Be flexible and patient. Slow down. Let go of strict schedules and enjoy the moment. Don’t force your kids on a day hike if that means everyone in the family will be upset. You will get messy. You will get dirty. Things might not work out the way you planned, but that’s okay! And most of all- HAVE FUN!