Camping with young kids is like juggling fire batons… hopefully a thrilling experience but it can go south in heartbeat if you aren’t prepared. Here’s a few of our favorite tips and hacks to stay ahead of the game on your next camping trip with young kids.
# 1 — Line Your Tent Floor
Any heavy camping blanket will do the trick, but kids’ foam play tiles are the real winner here. The kids are stoked to set them up, it makes the tent look like a play room, and you’ll all be warmer and more comfortable — day and night.
#2 — Separate Play Tent
Speaking of play rooms — your tent doesn’t need to be one. Set up a small second tent with a singular purpose — more room to play. Try a fully enclosed tent for rainy/buggy day activities, or if conditions are right for it just build a fort out of a canopy shelter. The kids score way more daytime play options, and there’s less chance you’ll fall asleep with a pencil crayon in your face.
#3 — High Vis Tent Line Decorations
Nothing starts the camping trip off quite like the younger kids clotheslining themselves in their first game of tag eh? Instead let them help decorate/protect the tent lines with colorful ribbons, balloons, or best of all… pool noodles. The process and the decor itself will make them way more aware of the surrounding lines.
Bonus points if you finish the trip with the pool noodles still in place ;).
#4 — Wash it Up
This is a two part tip.
First up…. baby wipes for days! I mean, pack a lot of them. They are absolutely invaluable when camping with kids. From hand cleaning in a pinch, to refreshing cool-downs if you store them in the cooler, baby wipes are such a clutch item for young campers — not just babies.
Secondly, bath time. If you didn’t pack something that can double as a camping bathtub, then you’re definitely packing wrong. Most large bins will do the trick, and your RUX can even double as a wash station or baby bath tub in a pinch.
#5 — Pre Cook & Keep It Simple
Odds are you spend enough time preparing healthy food for your kids at home, and even more time convincing young kids to eat it. Leave those troubles at home eh. Pre cook or pre prep as many meals as you can before your trip starts, and keep the rest super simple with high appeal to the little ones. You can’t eat wieners and baked potatoes 365 days a year, but you sure as hell can survive (and enjoy) a short camping trip with that menu.
#6 — Nature Crafts
Little kids need their down time, but they don’t need to revert back to their typical home/school crafts. Bring just enough supplies to get things started, but leave the rest up to what they can find in nature. Try bringing paints but no paper. Flat rocks and sticks make a novel canvas. Pack some strong glue and see what creations they can make with rocks, sticks, moss and more.
Acrylic paint pens are even easier than paint.
#7 — Bring Friends
This one’s so clutch we wrote a whole blog post about it (coming soon). Another family will keep the kids entertained and give you a chance to hang with friends while the littles are sleeping not far from you.
Teaching his buddy some new camp tricks.
#8 - Glow Sticks
These novelty items are a triple win. They’re fun, your kids can see a bit better in the dark, and most importantly you can see them. A flashlight doesn’t do much for you when a young kid keeps dropping it or turning it off. And when your kid fakes out their sibling by turning the flashlight off at the worst time (aka the outhouse), the little sibling still has some backup light. Crisis averted.
Tying up the glow stick strings… perhaps a few minutes too late ;)
#9 — Bring Entertainment
Leave the city stuff at home. Only pack the items that are just asking for a good ol’ fashioned camping excursion… a magnifying glass, bug catcher, outdoor crafts, balls, flying discs, shovels, rope and buckets. Not so many that they’re the main draw or worth fighting over. Just enough simple items to get into trouble with and strike up some camping-only antics.
Yes, we know, that was only 9. But we’re sure you’ve got the 10th hack for us? Leave it in the comments if so.