I LOVE camping: sleeping outside, eating outside, just being OUTSIDE for an extended period of time is incredibly relaxing for me. I always say that 24-hours of camping is like 1-week vacation anywhere else. The image below explains why I may be experiencing that! However, when we started camping with our young child there were definitely some new considerations to take into account, and here are my tips for a good camping trip WITH KIDS!
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The first memories I have of camping were not until I was a college student and I immediately fell in love with the experience. My husband and I have both wanted to fill our family’s memories with lots of camping, and we took our first trip with our daughter when she was about a year old. She had just started walking, and we ended up with a horrible camping site that had a severe incline. So here is tip #1 for camping with children: LOOK UP YOUR CAMPSITE ahead of time. This fantastic website, http://www.campsitephotos.com/, allows your to look at each individual site. Things to look for in a good campsite:
- Flat with enough clear area to set up your tent.
- Protects you from any elements you may encounter. Our favorite campground is in a canyon so it protects us from the wind, and we always make sure to pick a site without enough shade so that we aren’t baking in the sun.
- Close enough to the bathrooms (if it has them) for convenience, but far enough so it isn’t too loud.
- If possible a fire-pit with a grate (for cooking if needed) and a picnic table
Secondly, if you have a child that can’t sit up on his/her own than you will need one of these clip-on chairs that can fit on the end of any good picnic table. We found this really helpful whenever we did any kind of travel because it is like having a portable high chair.
If you haven’t camped before, I would recommend starting with a 3-day/2-night trip at a “car camping” campground which means you pull-up to the campsite in your car and unload directly (no need to hike in with your equipment.) In my experience these types of campgrounds usually offer bathrooms and may even have showers, running water for washing dishes and a store. The only way to reserve public campsites these days is through ReserveAmerica.com . If you haven’t camped before, ask friends and family (Facebook is great for this) if they have a local spot to recommend. I would recommend choosing a location less than an hour from home because then you can get back in an emergency (AND THIS HAS HAPPENED TO US!)
My final tip: I ALWAYS wear closed-toe shoes when camping EXCEPT INSIDE THE SHOWER. I literally wear my boots walking TO AND FROM the shower and only where flip flops inside the shower. WHY? Because I was bitten by a rattlesnake when I was 5-years-old and I was camping and wearing open-toed shoes. Between stubbing your toes on rocks, metal stakes left lying around and wildlife, I think it’s a really good idea to wear closed-toe shoes at all times while camping. And now on to the ….
Camping Supplies Checklist
I’ve added links for items that can be purchased on AMAZON that I absolutely love
FIRE: fire poker, something to roast marshmallows with, kindling, firewood, matches, chairs for around the fire
TOILETRIES: sunscreen, bug spray, soap, shampoo, conditioner, face wash, toothpaste/brush, flip flops and quarters (if there are showers), whatever else you need
COOKING: dutch oven with lid, cast iron skillet with lid, teapot, metal spatula, wooden spatula, stainless steel plates/bowls/mugs, forks, spoons, knives, salt, ghee (my cooking oil of choice), camp stove, stove fuel, dish soap and sponge, 3-rags, large plastic container for dishwashing, water (about 1-gallon per day per person), our stainless steel water bottles (Klean Kanteen is my favorite), 1 roll of paper towels, pour over coffee cone/filters/mason jar to put it over, a chopping knife and a serrated knife, tongs, oven mitts (I store the knives in the mitts with a rubber band around them to keep them secure), a medium size cutting board, if my campsite doesn’t have a picnic table I’ll bring a LIFETIME foldable table (this table is SO awesome. It adjusts to 3 different heights, see pics to the right, meaning you can use it for your kids to dine at and then at home as an extra desk or buffet for entertaining. We have 2 of them!), trash bags, marshmallows (because it isn’t a camping trip without them), cooler and ice for perishables, tablecloth (optional), can and bottle opener if necessary)
CAMPSITE: tent (we have this tent, see pic below, and I LOVE it because the second room can be fully open air for our dog or it can be closed up as a second room for sleeping in), a tarp for under the tent, hammer/mallet, extra stakes for tarp (here is a cool kit), air mattress (we like the Lightspeed products), bedding, pillows, CHARGED air pump (make sure it can use your car’s cigarette socket in a pinch but that it can also be charged), hand soap, towels, lantern with batteries, head lamps, flash lights, broom/dustpan (for cleaning our your tent when you pack up), screwdriver, hammock (optional), child potty, “she wee” type of funnel (I always envied my husband’s ability to pee into a bottle in the middle of the night…well now I can too!), citronella candles (optional), first aid kit, LED lights to put on your kids shoes so you can see them running around at night (VERY IMPORTANT!)
CLOTHES: 1-outfit for day, 1 for night if there is a big temperature change and 1 to sleep in. If I’m camping for less than 3-days that is all I take! A big hat if there isn’t adequate shade. We tend to camp places where it is really hot during the day and really cold at night so I’ll bring a sweater, a light jacket and a heavy coat! I ALWAYS wear closed-toe shoes when camping EXCEPT INSIDE THE SHOWER. I literally wear my boots walking TO AND FROM the shower and only where flip flops inside the shower. WHY? Because I was bitten by a rattlesnake when I was 5-years-old and I was camping and wearing open-toed shoes.
MISC: $40 cash (just in case), 1 roll of toilet paper, baking soda or other non-toxic powdery substance in case of ants (you can put a ring around your tent or picnic table to discourage them…avoid putting your tent too close to the base of trees, there are always a lot of ants around there)
(OPTIONAL) ENTERTAINMENT: deck of cards, a ball, travel chess set, bocce ball or horseshoes (although we’ve also played a version just with collected rocks and pebbles from the campsite), skateboard, bike, kite, musical instruments, fishing gear
(OPTIONAL) FOR THE BEACH: beach toys, beach umbrella, towels, chairs, collapsible table, cooler, sunscreen, surfboard, swim stuff, hats, sunglasses
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