Lodges and Glamping

Top Tips for Your First Camping Trip with Kids

RV at night
RV at night. credit: Pixabay

The kids want to go camping and you don’t know where to start. After camping with kids for over 15 years, I’m here to say, make it easy for Mom. I’ve always kept my comfort level in mind when planning. This is my top tip. If you need hot water, air conditioning and flushing toilets, you can find those at a campground.. Here’s my other top tips for camping with kids.

Top Tips for Camping with Kids

Here are my top tips for camping with kids.

Rent a Cabin—If it’s your first camping trip, skip the tent.
Make Fun Food—And s’mores are a must for every trip.
Ask around and Borrow Gear—Lots of people keep camping gear stored in their garage.
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
Give the Kids Jobs—One sets out the sleeping bags while one tends the camp fire.
Skip Bath Night—The kids will get dirty and no one will care.

How to Camp like a Mom

Keep your comfort at the top of the list. For me, I need an airmattress, a hot shower and hotter coffee when I am camping. And I don’t want to feel cold overnight. So I find campgrounds that offer bath houses with hot showers. No biggie really.

If you need air-conditioning, find it at a glamping resort. Or rent an RV for your getaway. Remember, there are no awards for suffering.

Keep it simple, it is the great outdoors. 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.

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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 for your camping trip. 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 spinach. 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. We changed up the candy over the years so if you like peanut butter cups try those on your s’more next time.

Breakfast Ideas

One of my top tips for camping with kids is make a satisfying breakfast if you have the time. Pancake mixture in a shakeable jar works great for pancakes on the open fire or camp stove. Breakfast tacos, or burritos, are another top breakfast item for us. Though scambled eggs and sausage or bacon are great options as well.

If we are staying around at the campground for a while, a good breakfast fills the tank with fuel for exploring. Though if you are packing up and moving out, granola bars and juice pouches work. Another must for my camping trips are individual boxes of cereal for the kids. For me, I always have cold brew in a jug. If I have the chance, I can warm it up. Or pour it over ice.

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If you’re camping in bear country remember that all your gear and food needs be stored in a bear box. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

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, another one of the top tips for camping with kids.

  • 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.

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  • 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

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  • 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.

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

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  • 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

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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.

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Found this heater that can be used in a tent or cabin. It uses the same butune canisters you use for gas lanterns.

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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

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  • 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
  • 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
  • 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



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


Catherine Parker has a passion for travel and seen all 50 U.S. States. As a former flight attendant with one of the largest airlines, there isn't a North American airport that she hasn't landed in at least once. Since clipping her professional wings after 9/11, she combines her love of the open road with visiting architectural and cultural icons. She is based out of Central Texas dividing her time between writing and restoring a pair of 100-year-old houses. She shares her life with her three kids and her husband.

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