“Time camping isn’t spent, it’s invested.”
School is out and you’re ready to build lifelong happy memories with your family – and camping is the perfect activity to do that. Camping gets everyone outdoors, away from digital devices and working together.
If you’ve been wanting to plan a family camping trip but are overwhelmed by the details, this article is for you! We’ve compiled 8 tips to help you plan the perfect family camping trip.
1. The How
The first part of the family camping trip planning process is deciding how you will be camping. If your kids are older, car camping (tent camping at a campsite near your car) or backpacking (hiking in to a tent campsite) may be suitable for you. If you are novice or first time campers, car or RV camping is absolutely the way to go.
If you have really small children or simply know that some of your family really likes to have the comforts of home, RV camping may be for you. RVs are available to rent at affordable prices and you can choose your level of comfort based on the RV you decide to rent.
Alternatively, you can rent camping cabins. Again, with camping cabins you can choose your level of comfort from very basic (with no bathroom or kitchen) to cabins with all the amenities of home.
If you are tent or RV camping, you’ll need to plan well ahead of time to select the right campground or campsite for you and be sure to take into account the proximity and availability of things like restrooms and showers.
If you choose cabin camping, you will also need to reserve them well ahead of time to make sure you get a cabin for your desired camping trip dates.
2. The 4 W’s: Who, When, Where, & What
Identifying the 4 W’s is one of the first and most crucial steps to planning your family camping trip – whether it’s your first or 15th.
Who is going with you? How many people? What are the ages and abilities of all your campers? Keep the ages and abilities of all your campers in mind when you are choosing the season and location for your camping trip.
When will you be going camping, and what is the average weather like in that season? Knowing these things will help you better plan for activities and it will help you when you’re packing. If it’s going to be really hot or really cold, you’ll want to have plans for ways to cool off and warm up. Planning out these details will make for very happy campers.
Where will you be camping? What is the environment like? And the weather? When picking a place to camp, you’ll want to take into account the season, the activities and what there is to do in the local area. Depending on where and when you choose, you will likely need to book your reservations way ahead of time. This will ensure you get to choose the spot that you want and that you will get in. Camping is becoming more and more popular, and in hotspots during prime camping season, you may find that all the best sites are booked out several months in advance!
The what is simply: What will you be doing? Have a general idea of what activities you plan to partake in, as well as what is available in the area. Swimming, boating, hiking, etc.
In addition to what you will be doing, you may want to start brainstorming what you will be eating! Pinterest is a gold mine for easy and fun camping recipes, so start there if you are feeling lost on meal ideas.
3. Camping Essentials
Every family is different, and so everyone’s camping essentials will be different. This is a good list to get you started, but you will likely want to add to it as you go! It’s always better to be overprepared than underprepared.
- First Aid Kit
- (If Tent Camping) Tent and Ground Tarp
- Sleeping Bags/Blankets
- Cots or Sleeping Pads (If tent camping)
- Rain Gear
- Camping Stove and Fuel
- Cookware – don’t forget can openers!
- Water Bottles
- Insect Repellent
- Food and Snacks
- Appropriate Footwear
4. Pack Wisely
If you have space – pack more than you think you will need to err on the side of caution. It is never a bad idea to bring extra clothes, blankets or food. Include different layers of clothes to plan for changing weather temperatures and conditions, and appropriate footwear for any activity you have planned.
If you are tent camping: unless it’s the middle of summer, you can never have too many blankets! Sleeping pads, sleeping bags, pillows and blankets… and make sure your tent is more than big enough for everyone to stretch out comfortably in. You can even bring cots and air mattresses to maximize your sleeping comfort on your camping trip – a bad night’s sleep does not make a very happy camper… kids and parents alike.
5. Planning Activities
Planning activities to do while you are camping with your kids can be as simple as putting together your own games, finding out what’s going on in the campground or you can venture out into the local area and explore around there.
Camping is a big adventure in and of itself – heighten the experience with fun activities! Scavenger hunts, nature hikes, night time card and board games, fishing, stargazing and making s’mores… all of these activities can help create a super memorable trip.
6. Planning and Prepping Snacks and Meals
Perhaps one of the most important points of this whole article – hungry campers are not happy campers! Meal and snack planning are incredibly important and can save you so much time so you can get back to enjoying your camping trip. It is a major time-saver if you are also able to do meal prep before taking the trip. Some pre-camping meal prep you can do includes:
- Chopping and portioning vegetables
- Chopping and portioning meats
- Making soup that can be reheated at the campsite
- Pre-make dry pancake batter – just add liquids and cook!
- Mix and portion marinades, sauces and seasoning
Snack packs of chips and lunchables are great for snacks during the day, as are fruits, veggies and of course… s’mores!
7. Give Responsibilities and Encourage Unplugging
Giving responsibilities to each member of the camping trip will make the entire experience move more smoothly and gets everyone involved. Some can help cook, some clean up, some can gather firewood, etc.
In addition to making sure everyone has their own roles to play, encourage unplugging – and that includes you, the parents! Unplugging from tablets, handheld gaming devices, TV, and cell phones will help get the family together more. Play games, enjoy the outdoors and being together… that’s what a camping trip is all about!
8. Get the Kids Involved
Letting your kids help with the trip planning is a great idea to ensure everyone is happy with what you are doing, where you are going and it helps make them feel like the trip is really theirs. Give them a list of options of places to go, activities to do and you can even let them help you plan the camping meal ideas!
Get creative with it, give them options and make your trip planning a little easier.
The Perfect Family Camping Trip
Let’s face it, no family camping trip is going to be 100% perfect. There will always be hiccups, things forgotten, tired and whiney campers… the list could go on!
And if you’ve read this list and are feeling intimidated by all there is to do to plan a family camping trip – don’t worry. You don’t have to plan every last detail! Your trip can be as unstructured as you like, and you will still have fun. The most important things to remember are you and your family’s comfort and safety.