Camping With Young Kids — How To Prep & Pack
by Jamie Bond on Apr 25, 2021
Distract ‘n Attack or Everyone In?
You’re trying to mobilize for a big family camping trip. Kids are on the loose. Do you distract them and pack on your own, or engage them in the process? Your move!
We’ve tried both. Many times. Here’s our tips:
Distract ‘n Attack.
AKA get your kids as far away from the packing process as you can ;)
Making time and space for camping prep is a clutch move. Prep the important stuff on your own time when they’re asleep or occupied.
- Meals — There’s a grocery store en route to your destination. Should you grab all your trip food en route? Hell no. Tackle your shopping in advance, and even pre-bag your different meals if you’re able.
- Gear — If you wait until your kids are pulling your shirt towards the truck, you’re for sure going to forget something important. Instead, make lists and pack in advance. Packing lists give your brain a fighting chance when it’s crunch time, and laying out your gear the night before is way-better than during the exit scramble.
- Loading — If you have a secure garage or parkade, do most of your vehicle-loading-puzzle-challenge the evening before your trip. Loading on your own time with enough time and space to do it well will set you up for a smooth trip, instead of playing catch up.
- Go Time — Now the kids are fired up, but you’re not quite ready yet. Time for distract ‘n attack mode. Get them outside — chasing a ball, sibling or wild animal — or whatever it takes to burn their energy and keep them away from your vehicle or camping rig until you’re ready to mobilize to or from your campsite.
Aka get the kids involved
The solo packing tricks can move mountains, but there’s also a time and place for kids to help you prep for camping. With little kids, their attempts to ‘help’ usually hinder, but here’s where we think it’s worth recruiting them.
- Treats ‘n toys — Task your kids with packing the fun non-essentials. What kind of desserts and treats can they raid from the house? What stuffies, outdoor games, or sports gear do they want to bring? Let them hunt around while you finish the essentials.
- Hit list — You won’t be roasting hotdogs from dawn till dusk. Task the oldest child with writing down the kids’ hit list of things to do on this camping trip. You’ll get their buy-in, and it will help you nail your packing list.
- Kid sized bags — You’ve filled your duffels and RUXs with heavy gear. Your kids want to help load but they’re just going to crash trying. Instead, save some of your packing for smaller bags or containers. You’ll get some stoke from the kids, and you’ll have a better chance of tetris packing everything into your vehicle. Win win.
Best of Both
If you completely distract ‘n pack, your kids might assume magic fairies made the whole trip possible (along with everything else in their life). On the flip, an amazing camping experience is better than watching Dad run over the kids’ bikes or foraging for huckleberries to replace forgotten meals.
Find the right mix of pre-prep vs family engagement that works for you, then gear up and get after it.