So you’re thinking of going camping with your family, and everyone is telling you it’s a bad idea. I mean they’re technically right — kids are messy, moody, and unpredictable. And in the wild, you don’t want the added responsibility of keeping your beloved little humans alive. However, contrary to popular belief, camping with the family is one of the most fun things you could ever do. Kids make camping more enjoyable, and it’s an experience they will cherish for life.

So, how exactly do you make it through without any disasters, you ask? Well, it’s not as difficult as it seems. Here are some simple family camping tips that will help you plan the family camping trip you’ve been dreaming of.

Table of Contents

9 Family Camping Tips to Have in Your Back Pocket

1Pick the Right Campground

9 Family Camping Tips You Should Always Follow

Camping with family means you have to be very selective about the location. There are several options to choose from like tents, cabins, or even an RV. 

Do your research thoroughly and make sure you pick a place that fits with your family’s needs, interests, and abilities.

The distance of the campground from your house is also important. Not all families can handle long road trips. For younger kids, it’s better to not venture too far away from home. Also, make sure you know about the camp activities and facilities beforehand.  

When camping with the family, there should be good bathroom and cooking arrangements available. Playgrounds, hiking trails, bounce pads, and other camp activities are an added bonus that your kids will definitely appreciate.

2Safety First

9 Family Camping Tips You Should Always Follow

With kids at a campsite, there are several things that could go wrong, and it’s better to be prepared than sorry. If your campground has anything risky nearby, like a pond or highway, make sure you keep those off limits. 

Set some boundaries for your children. If possible, give them a large area to roam around, but it should always be within your line of sight.  

If your kids are young, don’t let them wander off or go to the bathroom alone. Hand each child a whistle to blow, in case they ever get separated.

Pack a few first aid kits catered to children with things like sunscreen, earplugs, kids’ acetaminophen, allergy medicines, bug bite cream, etc. Also, always keep a tab on where the nearest hospital or pharmacy is in case of emergencies.

3Glow Sticks are Fun and Functional

This idea may sound weird, but glow sticks are a total game changer for camp. Of course, you need flashlights and headlamps, but packing a few glow sticks will come in handy as well. 

You can hang red glow sticks around obstacles like tree stumps and tent pegs. This way, they’ll be visible in the dark and there shouldn’t be any accidents. 

If you bring your dog along, you can attach a glow stick to its collar so you’ll always know its whereabouts at night.

Glow sticks make everything more exciting for the kids and really create a fun ambiance. What’s more, if you have many children, you can assign each bed a different color. Attaching these colored glow sticks to their sleeping bags will even make it easier for kids to locate them.

4Be Careful About Cleanliness

Kids are bound to be messy, but they’re also a lot more vulnerable to illness than us adults. And in campgrounds, there’s an abundance of dirt, germs, and bugs that you do not want your child to digest. 

Make sure your children’s hands and feet are as clean as possible. This isn’t easy when you’re out hiking or are away from the main camp, which is why you’ll need to stock up on lots of hand sanitizer, wet wipes, and antibacterial wipes. 

Also, try to set up a hand and foot washing station at the campgrounds. Even if it seems like a hassle, the effort will pay off. There’s no limit to the messes that children can make, and flowing water is something you’ll really need. The station doesn’t have to be fancy — just a jug with a spout to pour out the water will do. Keep some quality soap and small towels there, and you’re good to go.

5Plan Your Meals Ahead of Time

9 Family Camping Tips You Should Always Follow

As an adult, you can probably forgo super yummy food for a few days of camp, but kids aren’t usually ready for that kind of commitment. That’s why you should pay extra attention to camp meals and plan well ahead.

When you know the meals you’ll have, you can start preparing for them at home. Do as much as you can beforehand, so there’s minimum work in the campgrounds. You might not have access to a fridge, stove, or sink, so make the best use of your gadgets at home.

Buy fast cooking meats, and consider preparing some crock pot meals. For the kids, make sure you have plenty of their favorite snacks at hand like gummy bears, chips, and granola bars. 

Trust me: hungry children are not going to be pleasant or cooperative.

6Involve your Kids in the Process

As parents, we tend to micromanage every detail without considering what our kids want. This time, try something a little different and involve your kids in most decisions. This will give them a sense of control over what’s happening, and it will make their trip much more enjoyable.

Your child might not be fully aware of what camping is, so explain the concept properly. Don’t just head out with your kids on a vacation and let them deal with what’s to come. Prepare them for the lack of amenities and discomforts they might face. 

Take your kids with you when buying camping gear and gadgets. Give them the responsibility of doing their own packing. Of course, you should give them a checklist and double check everything yourself later, but letting them handle all of this with you will make your kids more interested in the experience.

7Organize Your Children’s Clothes

Try to set out outfits for your children beforehand and pack together. Bring a hanging clothes organizer with you as well. When you unpack, set everything up so that you won’t have to keep opening your bags or tubs.

The hanging clothes organizer is really useful because it empties out the tubs or bags you brought your clothes in. This can later serve as a makeshift laundry basket where you dump all of the dirty clothes from your hanger.

This way, as soon as you get home, you can just throw everything into the washing machine, and there’s no hassle of sifting through clean and dirty clothes during your camping either.

8The Key to a Dirt-Free Tent

Camping involves a lot of dirt, dust, and miscellaneous objects in your hair, clothes, and socks. But if these get into your tent, it can be very uncomfortable. While this is unavoidable, there are ways you can keep it under control.

Keep a rug outside and inside your tent.  Every time you enter, take off your shoes and socks and wear a different pair of tent slippers. It’s also useful to keep a tray of water and a towel outside your tent. This way you can wash away any dirt on your feet.

Teach your kids to follow this etiquette properly or else you’ll be dealing with cranky children who haven’t slept all night because of the gritty feeling in their camp beds!

9Keep Your Kids Entertained

Rocks and dirt won’t keep your children distracted for too long. If you don’t have enough entertainment scheduled for the day, your kids are bound to get up to all sorts of shenanigans.

Pack some games like water guns, frisbees, rackets, and balls with you. You could also bring some UNO cards, coloring books, and favorite toys that will keep your kids occupied while you work. 

It’s wise to set up a separate tent for the play area. This will keep the mess contained, and even if you don’t clean up right away, everyone will be able to sleep in peace. The tent also provides shade, which is important if you don’t want your kids to get overheated.

Try to make the camping trip a learning experience. Teach your kids about nature, flowers, and bugs, and help them to avoid wasting water and littering. For older kids, designate some chores so they don’t get a chance to feel bored.

Camping with family strengthens the bond with your kids and teaches them a lot of valuable lessons. You should certainly take safety precautions, but don’t forget to have fun in the process. You can’t prepare for everything, and in a family with children, you should be okay with a little chaos. So plan ahead and take your family camping giving your kids the experience of a lifetime!

Check out this article on The Ultimate Family-Friendly Camping Gear.

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Lauren is a mom of three girls and a proud USMC spouse. She is the managing editor of Daily Mom Military, one half of the YouTube military spouse channel, #TheDependas, and owner of Lauren Lomsdale Creative Studios. She loves to run, lift, and do yoga in her spare time. Lauren is currently in Camp Pendleton, CA with her family and loves to meet new and inspiring military spouses.