1. A warm kid is a happy kid. Anyone who has spent time outside knows that being cold and wet in the great outdoors is no fun! Keep your family happy by packing plenty of cozy layers in case the weather gets chilly. Remember: Kids love to find the biggest, muddiest puddles to play in, so bring a few extra sets of clothes too!
2. The fewer neighbors you have, the less stressed you will be. Sometimes camping in crowded places can’t be avoided but if you have a choice, look for spacious campgrounds or sites that are off the beaten path. Not having to worry about a crying or screaming child upsetting sleeping neighbors is a big weight off your shoulders and can make for a more relaxed camping experience for everyone.
3. Bring entertainment. Your kids will probably spend a good amount of time looking for bugs and digging in the dirt (which is what we want them to do!) but it’s still helpful to have a few (non-digital) toys with you to enhance the nature experience. Bring a bucket, a bug net, some shovels, and anything else that will make outdoor play more fun!
4. Choose your food wisely. This isn’t the time to put your foot down on your child’s eating habits. Family camping can be tricky enough, so it helps to have stuff with you that you know your kids will love. Bring delicious food, and plenty of it, so that no one goes hungry.
5. Roll with the punches. If this is your family’s first camping trip, be prepared for things to go wrong. Pick a campground that is close to home, or at least reasonably close to civilization, in case you need to bail. Don’t be surprised if you don’t get much sleep or decide to shorten your trip a bit. Family camping is a learning experience and the more you do it, the better you will get!
Jen Dziuvenis is a freelance writer and photographer based in Boulder, Colorado, specializing in adventure travel and the outdoors. When she’s not chasing around a small child, two dogs, and three chickens, she can be found mountain biking, running trails, or cruising around on a paddleboard. She writes about her adventures here.