So, you’ve never camped with your kids before? Maybe you did some car camping or backpacking before you started your family. Or, perhaps you’re entirely new to camping, and the prospect of taking kids along makes you a little nervous. What if you can’t get them to go to sleep? What if they’re bored the whole time? What if they just plain hate it? (That’s not gonna happen!) Don’t worry …with some careful planning, your family camping adventure will be a huge success. Here’s everything you need to know about camping with kids from the experts at Arrive.
First things first - You need to make sure the tent you’re bringing has enough space for everyone. Somehow, kids seem to end up needing more space than most adults, so plan accordingly! With a family sized tent, there’s room to hang out and play a board game on a rainy day. And, you can set up a playpen in one corner if you need to. The Limestone 6-Person Tent from Arrive has plenty of space for the entire family, and it provides protection from wind, rain, and cold.
Plan ahead so that you can keep the little one occupied while you’re putting up the tent and setting up the rest of camp. A Helinox Camp Table can be set up quickly, providing a clean spot for the kids to have a snack or play a game while you work. And, of course, older kids will be happy to help you put the tent up or collect firewood.
You’re probably going to hear some complaining from the kids if they’re too hot or too cold, so making sure they’re comfortable is essential. Consider the weather when you choose your sleeping bags. Make sure they are rated for temperatures a bit lower than what you’re expecting, just in case. Arrive has sleeping bags that are rated for temperatures all the way down to 0 degrees. Placing an insulated sleeping pad underneath each sleeping bag will provide critical insulation from the cold ground while keeping everyone more comfortable. On the other hand, if it’s hot, remove the rainfly from your tent and open the windows for proper ventilation.
Allowing your kids to bring some familiar items from home, such as their favorite pillow, blanket, and a stuffed animal, will also go a long way toward keeping them happy. If your child has a particular comfort item, be sure to bring that as well. They’ll fall asleep better with familiar, comforting things around them.
Daytime and nighttime temperatures can vary considerably at any elevation, but if you’re camping at a high elevation, the temperature change can be dramatic. When you pack clothing for the kids (and yourself), it’s a good idea to choose items that can be layered in the evenings when it gets chilly. Pack lighter layers for day and warmer layers that can go over the top for evenings. During the night, your sleeping bags will be your outermost layers. If you expect it to get chilly, make sure everyone has a beanie, gloves, and extra pairs of warm socks.
It gets dark in the woods at night, far darker than little ones are used to! Lighting is crucial for making your campsite less scary. Bring along a couple Black Diamond Lanterns for ambient lighting around the campsite. Be sure to pack at least one Black Diamond Spot Headlamp for each family member as well. Headlamps are perfect for trips to the bathroom at night, as well as for nighttime diaper changes. For a soft glow in the tent at night, you can even wrap a headlamp around a gallon jug of water to create a makeshift night light.
If you’re bringing a baby along on your family camping trip, you should consider packing a travel-sized playpen. It will give your baby a familiar place to sleep and give you a safe place to let them play while you’re cooking or setting up the campsite. Bring an extra fitted crib sheet along to stretch over the top in the evening to keep bugs out, or during the day to provide some shade from the sun. For mealtimes, a stroller or a travel high chair will be a lifesaver. If your baby is a crawler, you might want to bring along an extra blanket, so he has somewhere safe to crawl and play. Don’t forget to bring some washable toys for them to play with.
Naptime is essential for keeping younger children happy, and camping is no exception. They’re going to be excited and not want to lay down, so you need to think ahead. Make sure their sleeping area is ready for them before nap time, with all their comfort items. If you have little ones that like to fall asleep in the stroller or Deuter Kid Comfort Carrier, plan on taking a short walk right before nap time. To drown out the sounds of the rest of the campground, try turning on a battery powered fan or white noise machine while they sleep.
Kids are used to being entertained by the television or other electronic devices when they’re at home, so they might get restless and bored if you don’t plan ahead to keep them entertained. Nobody wants to hear “I’m bored!” when they’re on a family camping trip. Bring along some binoculars or fishing poles to get them excited about their outdoor adventure. Active games like flashlight tag or scavenger hunts can be fun at almost any age. For evenings, bring along some favorite board or card games. During the day, keep the kids moving and active with a family hike or swimming in the lake. The more you can tire them out, the better they’ll sleep at naptime and bedtime!
Bug spray and sunscreen will be essential for everyone. Make sure you have a well-stocked first aid kit with lots of Band-Aids for those inevitable boo-boos. And perhaps most importantly, teach the kids to stay at a safe distance from the campfire. Nothing will end your family camping trip faster than having someone get hurt!