There’s no better excursion for your family than a camping trip. After all, what kind of experience brings your family together quite like sitting around a campfire, hiking through the woods, or sleeping under the stars?
Unfortunately, being unprepared for your trip can spell disaster. It can make your trip downright unenjoyable - or even worse, dangerous. Consider these tips to help make your family camping trip as successful (and memorable!) as possible.
1. Prep all of your food before you leave
You don’t have to have everything sectioned out in meal prep containers - leave that for your weekday chores back home! However, do as much prep work as possible while you’re still in your kitchen, such as any cutting, peeling, or marinating you need to do.
2. Don’t think you have to DIY everything
Consider bringing at least a few prepackaged foods so you don’t have to stress about things going bad, and have an idea what you will serve for every meal. This will take a lot of the unpredictability out of your camping trip, and also make it less stressful come mealtime.
3. Bring plenty of protective gear
Make sure you pack plenty of gear like sunblock, life jackets, sturdy shoes, and waterproof gear. While you’re at it, brush up on common first aid and safety tips with your family, particularly those that apply to the wilderness - such as identifying poisonous plants.
4. Bring plenty of flashlights and glow sticks
Make sure you bring ample lighting, like flashlights and glow sticks. Glow sticks are a great option because you can affix them to everything - like the tent, tent pegs, tree stumps, or even the dog’s collar! This will make it easier for all of you to navigate in the dark.
5. Pack some toys
You don’t have to bring your daughter's entire Barbie collection, but you should encourage the kids to bring at least one toy or two to fill their time. No electronics allowed, though!
6. Throw in some tarps
You should try to bring a large tent with you (ideally with more than one room so everyone gets a bit of privacy). But don’t just rely on the tent to keep your family comfortable. If it rains, you’ll also want to bring a tarp or two. This will provide an additional living space if it happens to rain, so you won’t be trapped inside the tent all day.
7. Pack plenty of extra clothes
Bring plenty of clean clothes so that you don't have to worry about having to re-wear dirty or sandy duds every day. Consider storing clothing by each day’s outfit so that the kids don’t have to scrounge to figure out what they are going to wear.
8. Make starting a fire seamless
Nothing quite puts a damper on your camping fun than not being able to get a fire started. Bring along plenty of long matches and lighters, and consider making some DIY fire starters out of dryer lint and used toilet paper. All you have to do is roll them together and toss them in the fire pit when you’re ready to get going.
9. Go single serve or travel size whenever possible
Bringing coffee? Bring individual packets of grounds. Toothpaste? Don’t bother with the full tube. Stick with the airport-friendly version. This will help lighten your load and also make it easier for you to find things when you’re out in the woods.
10. Set a up a hand-washing station
The whole point of camping is that you are going to get a little bit dirty. Okay, maybe very dirty! And while you don’t necessarily have to take a shower every day, setting up a handwashing station can help keep things a little more germ-free. Build a handwashing station with a bucket of water and some soap (or even some hand sanitizer!) and you’ll keep everybody healthy and happy.
11. Plan a few (but not too many!) kid-friendly activities
You don’t need to plan any complicated adventures, but planning to include a few kid-approved activities can make the trip more fun for everyone. For example, you can build an obstacle course or fort, or even set up a nature scavenger hunt.
12. Camp in a familiar area
You don't have to always rely on the old familiar campground, but you should try to camp in an area that is at least somewhat known to you. This will help reduce mishaps created by not being aware of local wildlife, weather, and other situations.
13. Tell someone where you are going
Yes, you’ll be camping with many of your loved ones. But you should make sure someone else knows where your family is, too, in case you run into problems.