My family and I moved to the Pacific Northwest at the beginning of May. It’s a beautiful area up here and there’s so many outdoor activities to take advantage of. You can enjoy hiking, kayaking, crabbing, boating, and beachcombing to name a few. Then of course, there’s camping.
In July, we purchased a pop-up camper from a friend. I couldn’t wait to pack up our camper and venture out on our first camping trip as a family. We had no previous experience camping with our children, but we didn’t want to let that stop us from enjoying new adventures and seeing more of the Pacific Northwest. We have two girls ages 9 and 6, and a one year old toddler. Before we headed out to our camping locations, I made sure to do a little bit of my own research on camping with kids. I wanted to know exactly what I was getting myself into and wanted to be prepared. Now that we have three camping trips under our belts, I have a few tips to share with you that worked well for us.
1. Find a kid friendly location.
There are a lot of places to camp – state parks, national parks, city parks, and KOAs. For our first few trips, we planned to go to KOA locations that had several activities for the kids to take advantage of. The campgrounds that we visited had outdoor pools, a big jump pillow, large playgrounds, mini-golf, paddle boats, hayrides, movie nights, ice cream socials, games like Bingo, and more. Keeping the kids active and entertained during a camping trip is important!
2. Bring a Pack ‘n Play.
Pack up the pack ‘n play if you have babies or toddlers that are just learning to walk and get around. We were able to use our pack ‘n play outside of our camper and then for bedtime inside the camper for my son. The pack ‘n play gave my toddler a chance to move around a bit outdoors without us feeling like we had to chase him around everywhere. We placed a few of his toys in there as well to keep him entertained. Bring a playpen mosquito net to place around the pack ‘n play if you are camping in an area with a lot of bugs!
3. Bring a stroller with a food tray.
We used our stroller to push baby boy around the campground. We also placed food in the food tray during snacks and mealtimes. This served as his high chair for the weekend and made it easy for us to feed him. If that doesn’t work, you can always use a portable high chair for travel.
4. Don’t forget formula, bottles, and water!
I keep a bag designated for baby boy’s formula, bottles, and a gallon of water. I keep at least one gallon of water on hand during our camping trips. You never know what kind of access you’ll have to water while camping, so plan ahead! I also keep a little wash tub nearby with dish soap and a bottle brush for cleaning dirty bottles. I suggest bringing at least two or more bottles in case one is lost.
5. Bring extra entertainment.
On the way to and from our camping destination, we allowed the kids to watch their portable DVD players. We also packed a few family games to play as well as coloring books, crayons, softballs and gloves for catch, frisbees, and more. My girls were entertained during down times when we were spending more time at our campsite. And yes, my oldest daughter loves to be silly in her pictures these days.
6. Bring extra clothes and bedding.
Depending on where you live, you may want to pack extra clothes for layers and bedding. The temps can get down into the 50’s in the Pacific Northwest during the summer months! Even though our camper has a furnace, we still made sure to pack extra layers just in case we need them. The extra blankets were perfect during movie night this summer.
7. Pack a First Aid Kit.
Keep a well-stocked first aid kit nearby while camping. You may need it for fixing up tiny boo-boos and more.
8. Don’t forget the sunscreen and/or bug spray!
Keep your kids protected with sunscreen and bug spray during camping trips. There’s nothing that can ruin camping trips more than getting a bad sunburn or getting eaten up by bugs! We went paddle boating one afternoon and both the sunscreen and bug spray were needed to enjoy our adventure on the lake.
9. Invest in a portable toilet.
Our portable toilet is a camping essential when camping with our kids. You never know how far your campsite will be from the nearest restroom. Invest in a portable toilet for your tent or camper so that you aren’t having to take long hikes to and from the bathroom during your stay, especially in the middle of the night. Throw a sanitation packet into the water to protect against odors while camping. Don’t forget a roll of toilet paper and hand sanitizer!
10. Pack plenty of drinks, food, and snacks.
The kids will be hungry and you’ll want to keep them satisfied with plenty to eat during your camping trip. Pack plenty of easy snacks to prepare as well as water and other beverages of choice to have on hand during your stay.
We’ve enjoyed our camping trips this summer because we were well prepared while camping with the kids. These tips worked well for my family. I can’t wait for our next camping adventure!
What tips can you add for camping with kids?