After camping with kids for over 15 years, I’m here to say, make it easy for Mom. I’ve see too many Moms trying to make scones at the campsite with a carful of gear. Just don’t. Who are you trying to impress? Your frustration is scaring the chipmunks and the kids have scattered. Here’s my top seven tips for how to plan a camping trip.
Top Tips for Camping with Kids
Rent a Cabin—If it’s your first 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.
More on Camping Fun
Cooking and Eating Outside
Don’t plan for crazy, complicated food. Hotdogs and burgers are fine for the family. Really. They taste better grilled on the open fire. If your kids need something to do, then hand them a weiner on a roasting stick.
Better yet, = buy the best steaks you can find for the adults. Add some easy sides, like a can of beans, prewashed and packaged sugar snap peas, or even precut and packaged greens. Green vegetables sauté up great in a cast iron skillet with a cut-up bacon for flavoring.
Skip baked potatoes, too complicated to get consistent heat, Instead, 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 set on the campfire grate. Buy a loaf of french bread from the bakery department, the one wrapped in foil and put it on the fire grate as well.
My go-to for camp cooking is a cast iron skillet, the black one. Put the skillet on the fire grate and heat it up. Then slap those steaks on it, patties and wieners cook up great too. Afterwards 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 grocery bag. Clean up done.
Don’t forget the marshmallows for s’mores.
Packing List for Camping
After car camping for years, I keep the gear to a minimum. I store all my gear in a heavy duty tote. Most of my gear is inexpensive. I trust reliable brands that have been around forever.
- Cooler, smaller the better
- Butane Fuel—I pack a least two cannisters
- Stick lighter and back-up matches
- Coleman Stove–You can find parts for Coleman stoves, other brands not so much.
- 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
- 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.
Cold Weather Camping
Found this heater that can be used in a tent or cabin. It uses the same butune canisters you use for gas lanterns.
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
- 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
- Board game or a deck of cards
- Glow sticks
- Blow up beach ball
- Toothbrush and paste
- 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.
- Toilet paper roll
- TP Kit with toilet paper and hand wipes in a reusable bag.
- Bleach wipes
- Baby wipes
- Hand sanitizer
- Lysol travel size
- Basic travel toiletry kit
- Quick-drying or Beach towels
You Just Never Know
I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about the what ifs.
- Multi purpose tool
- Duct tape
- First Aid kit
- Insect repellant
- Lip balm
It’s a windproof, water-resistant, multi-functional lightweight blanket you can wear almost like a skirt. With an adjustable closure system, you can wrap around your waist for sustained heat retention when outdoors. It’s much warmer than traditional stadium blankets and the fasteners won’t snag your clothing.
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