We did something this weekend that many people would say we are crazy for even attempting. We went camping with three relatively young kids – ages 2, 5 and 7! This was old school camping in a tent on the ground. No RV. No camper. There was nothing luxurious about this type of travel.
This was the first time we had taken any of the kids camping and I was a bit nervous. First, while I knew the 5 and 7 year old would have a blast, I was concerned that the 2 year old was a wee bit young. He still sleeps in a crib full-time so I was concerned that none of us would be sleeping during our trip. Second, it gets very, very dark when camping. Would the kids be too scared? Third, I was worried that I would forget to bring something super important that we would need.
Thankfully, it all went very well. We made mistakes. I forgot a few things. But overall, we learned a lot. In this Baby Gizmo Video Feature, I share the important things you need to bring and how our trip worked out. Since we had to keep the video at a reasonable length, the entire list of what you need when camping with kids is below.
Remember camping is nothing like staying at a hotel. You need to bring EVERYTHING that you will need. The luxuries of towels and bedding won’t be waiting for you when you get there. Therefore, packing for camping is totally different than packing for any other vacation or getaway!
The easiest way to keep all your supplies organized is to bring plenty of Rubbermaid plastic containers and beach/duffel bags.
In the large Rubbermaid containers:
- Matches or BBQ lighter
- Small Clothes Line or Rope
- First Aid Kit – Don’t forget lots of bandaids!
- Bug Spray
- Dish Soap (this comes in handy for washing out sippy cups!)
- Axe, Hatchet or Saw – (to cut firewood if need be!)
- Multi-tool utility Knife
- Can Opener (if you brought canned goods)
- Flashlights and extra batteries – Make sure you bring a flashlight for every person!
- Playing cards
- Table Cloth (it just makes for a more pleasant dining experience!)
- Kitchen Garbage Bags
- Baby Wipes (these will be used A LOT!)
- Activities for the kids that include small bikes, frisbees, balls, water guns or other games.
Clothing to Take Camping (in other large duffel bags!):
- Bathing Suits (Swim diapers for the pre-potty-trained!)
- Warm pajamas (if it gets cold at night where you are camping!)
- A sweatshirt and sweatpants for night
- Sandals or water shoes
Toiletries: (Separate into two waterproof bags (Ziploc bags work great!) one for “boys” and one for “girls”).
- Pain Relievers (make sure to keep away from small kids!)
- Toilet Paper (Could get ugly if the campground is out!)
- Shower Towels and/or swim towels
- Diapers (if you have a baby or toddler!)
Sleeping Gear: (In a large duffel bag)
- Sleeping Bags (one for each person!)
- Pillows (dark pillow cases!)
- Pads or Air Mattresses (with pump – battery powered or one that you plug into your car lighter is best!)
- Extra Blankets
- Playard (if you are camping with a baby or toddler)
- Bring a lovey for a toddler or baby to remind them of home.
- Tarp (comes in handy either to cover the tent at night or to make a shelter for the damp days)
- Folding Camping Chairs (one for each person including the kids!)
- Pots & Pans (if you plan to cook this way!)
- Utensils (BBQ tools, knifes, forks, spoons)
- Cups, Plates, Bowls
- Container to wash/rinse dishes
- Paper Towels
- Tin Foil
What you bring food-wise depends on what you like. Don’t forget the s’mores fixin’s! Otherwise, things like hot dogs, hamburgers, brats, chips, fruit, veggies, crackers, cookies, soda, and beer all work great!
- Bring lots of ice in your cooler to keep cold things cold!
- Keep the dry (non-cold!) food in a large Rubbermaid container to keep it dry and away from the bugs and animals.
Overall, don’t forget your sense of humor because while camping with kids is fun it does require a bit of patience and the ability to laugh when things go terribly wrong.