Families love spending time together in the great outdoors. Camping trips give parents and kids time to unplug, explore, learn, and unwind in ways that other vacations can’t quite match. For all the fun that camping with kids entails, it also poses some challenges and risks. Before you head to your favorite campground this year, be sure to learn these three things only parents need to know about family camping trips.
1. Practice Camping at Home First
Being prepared is the first rule of camping with kids. But, parents may not know exactly how to prepare for their first family camping trip. That’s
why you should practice camping at home first. Try pitching your tent in your living room and getting your kids used to sleeping in sleeping bags inside the tent for a night or two ahead of time. Then, take the tent and the whole family to the backyard and spend the night camping there as a dress rehearsal for the big trip.
Your kids will let you know if they aren’t warm enough, if they need some more padding in the tent, if they need more light, etc. And, you’ll get the opportunity to make a more accurate list of equipment and gear if you have a dress rehearsal in your backyard. It’s much easier to learn camping lessons when you’re a few feet from your home than it is when you’re in the middle of the woods.
2. Take Advantage of Daylight
Your kids (and you) will be so excited to hit the trails, explore the great outdoors, and check out the fishing and swimming holes that it’s easy to lose track of time and end up returning to your campsite late in the evening. But, trying to pitch your tent, start your fire, and cook in waning daylight can be dangerous. Keep in mind that you should start your campfire early if you plan to cook over it.
That’s why you should take advantage of the daylight and unpack and set up your campsite first. If the kids are excited to get adventuring, give them chores. Many hands make short work, and you’ll be able to explore sooner if everyone pitches in and helps. They can carry items from the car, gather kindling, and help hold tent spikes. (Tip: Redfin suggests a few reminders for setting up your tent: Don’t place it under a tree because falling branches may injure you or a family member. It’s better to position your tent in an open area that is at least 15 feet from the campfire and a safe distance from other tents should a fire occur.)
3. Make the Tent Welcoming and Kid-Friendly
As most parents know, kids can become skittish in the middle of the night on a camping trip. Strange noises, dark surroundings, and campfire stories can make it difficult for little ones to fall asleep and stay asleep while camping. One of the best things you can do to make camping nights easier on the whole family is to make the tent welcoming and kid-friendly.
First, make it comfortable by placing a plush sleeping pad on the floor of the tent. Parents with babies and toddlers can add an extra level of comfort by putting a set of foam tiles on top of the pad to make it soft for crawling knees. Next, make kids feel safe by hanging glow sticks inside the tent as night lights. It’s a good idea to pack extra glow sticks, too, so that you can easily spot your kids wearing them and playing with them when darkness descends upon your campsite.
Your entire family will have a much more fun and safer camping trip if you practice at home first, take advantage of the daylight hours when setting up camp, and make the tent as welcoming and kid-friendly as possible.