Lodges and Glamping

How to Plan for Your First Camping Trip with Kids

How to plan a camping trip.
Grab the kids and some basic gear to camp in a cabin this summer. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

I’ve been camping for years with three kids and I’m here to say. Make it easy for Mom. Here’s my top seven tips for how to plan a camping trip.

I’ve see too many Moms trying to make scones at the campsite with a carful of gear. Just don’t. Why?

Who are you trying to impress? Your frustration is scaring the chipmunks.

How to plan a camping trip.
If it’s your first family camping trip then stay in a cabin or canvas tent. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

How to Plan a Camping Trip

Rent a Cabin—If it’s your fist camping trip, skip the tent.

Ask around and Borrow Gear—Lots of people keep camping gear stored in their garage.

Make Fun Food—And s’mores are a must for every trip.

Prepare Food at Home–Chop those onions and potatoes then put them in plastic bags.

Pack a Game—For a passing time or campfire fun

Skip Bath Night—The kids will get dirty and no one will care.

Give the Kids Jobs—One sets out the sleeping bags while one tends the camp fire.

How to plan a camping trip.
My trusty Coleman stove along with a campfire is enough to feed my family of five under the stars. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Cooking and Eating Outside

Don’t plan for crazy, complicated food. Hotdogs and burgers are fine for the family. Really. Or buy the best steaks you can find for the adults.

Cut up potatoes, onion and garlic then add seasoning salt before you leave home. At the campsite, put the potato mixture in foil packs and put on the campfire.

Green vegetables sauté up great in a cast iron skillet with a cut-up bacon for flavoring. Then add a loaf of french bread rubbed with some butter and wrapped in heavy-duty foil. I suggest slicing the bread at home.

Buy a cast iron skillet and season it. Put the cast iron skillet on the fire grate and heat it up. Then slap those steaks on it. Or patties or wieners.

Wipe it down with a paper towel and a bit of oil. Scrub off bits of food with salt then put it into a plastic bag. Clean up done.

Don’t forget the marshmallows and the rest of the fun food.

How to plan a camping trip.
If camping in bear country remember that all your cooking gear and food will be stored in a bear box. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Packing List for Camping

I’ve been car camping for years. I store all this gear in the attic in a heavy duty tote. I pack the cheap gear and use a few reliable items, like my stove and cast iron skillet.

  • Cooler, smaller the better
  • Cooking Fuel—I pack a least two cannisters
  • Stick lighter and back-up matches
  • Cast iron skillet—Old-fashioned black Lodge Brand


  • 2-quart pot (larger pots will take forever to heat)
  • 1-quart pot
  • Pot holders—at least two
  • Sharp chef’s knife and paring or steak knifes
  • Camp Mugs—use for instant oatmeal or coffee
  • Baskets with paper liners-less waste than paper plates


  • Real Silverware—Don’t eat a good steak with a plastic fork.
  • Can opener
  • Mixing bowl
  • Vinyl Tablecloth
  • Heavy-duty foil
  • Bread keeper–Because no one like smushed bread.


  • Assorted plastic bags
  • Wine bottle opener
  • Polycarbonate wine glasses
  • Roasting sticks
  • Egg keeper


  • Plastic cutting board
  • Disposable dishcloths
  • Scrubbie
  • Microfiber drying towel
  • Biodegradable soap
  • Small container of bleach—I put a capful in water to sanitize
  • Multi-Purpose bleach spray
  • Plastic trash bags—One per day
  • Gas Lantern
  • Extra Lantern Mantles


If your campground is under a burn ban (no open fires because of drought conditions) then pack an electric skillet and heavy-duty extension cord.

How to plan a camping trip.
I will not lie, I like a cabin much more than a tent. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Cabin Camping Gear

I gave up tent camping. My kids won’t help set up or take down the tent.

I rent cabins, yurts and teepees instead. All the camping fun with a roof over my head.

  • Sleeping bags
  • Pillows
  • Battery-operated lantern


  • Flash lights for everyone
  • Air mattress, just in case
  • Air mattress pump

 

Camping Gear for Kids

Each of my kids carries a backpack for camping trips. In it I put some essentials.

  • Small flashlight
  • Carabiner
  • Board game or a deck of cards
  • Frisbee
  • Glow sticks
  • Blow up beach ball
  • Pencils
  • Toothbrush and paste
  • Bandana
  • Sun hats
  • Water shoes

Restrooms and Showers

Research the restroom conditions before making a reservation. Find your comfort level and stick with it.

Personally I like hot water showers and flushing toilets. I can’t go more than 36 hours without a shower. Since I’m making the reservations, these are important features I need before committing to a campground.

Potty Pack

  • Toilet paper roll
  • Bleach wipes
  • Baby wipes
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Lysol travel size
  • Basic travel toiletry kit
  • Flip-Flops
  • Quick-drying or Beach towels
How to plan a camping trip.
Don’t forget the marshmallows and roasting sticks. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

You Just Never Know

I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about the what ifs.

  • Headlamp
  • Multi purpose tool
  • Duct tape
  • Rope
  • First Aid kit
  • Insect repellant
  • Sunscreen
  • Lip balm

Looking for a cabin?

Here’s some of my favorite from across North America.

Badlands National Park, South Dakota

Devils Tower National Monument, Wyoming

San Juan Islands, Washington

Kings Canyon National Park, California

Redwood National Park, California

Disclosure

This post contains affiliate links.

The kids want to go camping. Here's your guide to plan your first camping trip along with a packing list for glamping. #Glamping #Camping #PackingList What to Pack for a Family Camping Trip | How do you plan your first camping trip | What do you need to cook outdoors

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