Camping with Kids – Our top tips for beginners
We have very recently starting camping and this weekend we tried out our very own, brand new first family tent! We are FAR from experts and every trip so far we’ve forgotten at least one thing, but we are getting better. I remember camping when I was a kid and it was always so exciting to play all day in a new place and then snuggle up in a sleeping bag and crash out in the tent. We go camping with our friends and it’s so great to see the kids all together exploring together and making memories. So far, we are loving it!
Below are some tips for camping beginners that I’ve come up with based on our experience so far. I’m SURE there are many more to add to this list so please feel free to comment below if you have a camping tip or product you think we should try next time.
- Get yourself a good tent. Work out what your budget is and get the best tent you can afford (which by the way, isn’t always necessarily the most expensive one) If you go camping and you’ve got a crappy tent it’s the WORST. So do some research and ask your camping friends what they use, and what they recommend. Or go into your local camping store and ask lots of questions and let them help you find the right tent. Oh and ps – if you buy a new tent PLEASE make sure you have a practice run putting it up BEFORE you go camping. Tent amateur-ness almost resulted in divorce on a trip we did last year (joking/but kinda not joking) Not all tents are created equal!!!!
We bought a Coleman Instant Up 10 Gold Series online from Tentworld.
- Work out your sleeping arrangements – also a good one to ask around about this one. There are lots of options, air beds, camp beds, self inflating mats. Will the kids sleep in with you or will they need their own mattress? Do you need a portacot? How much room do you have in your tent? Is it going to be cold – should you throw in that extra sleeping bag just in case? Nothing is fun when you’ve had a bad night sleep so make sure you’re sleeping arrangements are warm and comfortable and you’ll have happy campers!
- Check the weather! And then check it again the morning you leave. There’s nothing worse than not packing the right clothing to suit the conditions, especially when kids are involved. If it’s looking like cold weather, you’ll never regret throwing in that extra jacket or that extra beanie and scarf. Things have a way of getting wet when we camp so we always take at least two of everything.
- Organise your car activities! Camping normally involves a bit of driving to get to your destination so make sure you have plenty of snacks, water, colouring books or the iPad charged and loaded with movies or games. Google “car games for kids” and refresh your memory on all those car games we used to play before iPads too. Remember spotto, car cricket, animal mineral vegetable, and of course eye spy. These things will also come in handy if you get wet weather and are tent bound.ps – my daughter asked me if we were ‘there yet’ before we had even left our driveway? My face looked a bit like this
- Remember the essentials. Write a list of all your “must packs” include on this list things like first aid kit, dustpan and broom for cleaning out the tent, hand sanitiser, a few toilet rolls, some baby wipes, sunscreen, raincoats or ponchos – so you can still explore in the rain, mozzie repellent, a lighter, torch, spare plastic bags etc. If you need help with this check out the Travel Journal from Caravanning with Kids. Not only is it a great way for kids to journal their camping memories, it also comes with a really handy packing checklist! (affiliate link)
- Do a bit of research on the place you’re going. You don’t need to buy the Lonely Planet guide every time you go camping, but make sure you do a bit of online searching for things to do and see in the area. One of the best parts about camping is exploring new places, and sometimes those places can be on the way to the campsite, or just a little drive out of town. Let the kids play! Let them run and climb and explore and dig and get dirty! That’s what camping is all about! Plus it makes for great campfire stories before bedtime.
Also, if you’re brand new to camping it might be a good idea to choose spots that are in, or close to town for the first few times. As we are learning, camping is definitely something that gets better with practice and you don’t want to be stuck in the middle of nowhere without nappies for the baby……in a tent……overnight……eeeeek!
- If you can, have a campfire. Toasting marshmallows around a campfire is such a great memory for a child. Finding that perfect stick and finding that perfect balance between perfectly gooey and burnt. Just make sure you check with the park you’re staying at if they are allowed, and also make sure you check if there are any fire bans in place.
- Get this app – Hopefully you’ll get a clear sky at night and be able to do some star gazing, and if you’re a bit rusty on the old solar system, the Sky Guide app $5.99 from the app store is ADDICTIVE!
- Camp Chairs – we recently upgraded our camp chairs too and I’m a bit in love. Possibly because our last ones were about 100 years old, falling apart and as comfortable as sitting on rocks, but I can’t recommend a little camping chair splurge enough. Hopefully you’ll get to do a fair bit of sitting and relaxing on your trip, whether it be sitting on the beach, fishing on the lake or sitting around the campfire, try and get yourself a good chair!
- Plastic tubs – I find they make packing SO much easier! We have one long flat one that fits perfectly under the esky in the boot of the car and it fits all of our dry food, cups, plates and cutlery in it. We also have another one we use for clothes, and when we arrive they get transferred to our camping shelves. Yes, I know the hard core campers out there will be scoffing at my shelves BUT these things are the BEST! They get your clothes up off the ground saving floor space, and also keeping them clean and dry. And the pockets are great for toilet keys (that always go missing for us) toiletries, medicines you need to keep up high etc. If you can afford these, trust me, get them!
- The rules, a boring but important one. When you arrive and set up your campsite make sure the kids know “the rules”. Take a walk around the park so they know where your site is if they get lost, show them where reception is, tell them the boundaries of play, make sure they know not to go near any water unless a parent is with them, make sure they have someone with them when they go to the toilet/shower. Going through the rules as soon as you get there will hopefully make for a safe and fun camping trip for everyone.