How To Plan A Family Camping Trip with Toddlers
While camping with toddlers may seem daunting, it is one of the most magical activities you can do as a family. It doesn’t matter if you’re pitching a tent in your backyard, hopping in a camper van or heading to a yurt for a weekend of glamping, you’re going to want to know about these How To tips.
The call of the wild is real for a reason. Being surrounded by the sounds of birds singing, rivers rushing, owls hooting and trees swaying bring us back to our roots and help us disconnect from an often over connected world.
With technology creeping into our lives from an earlier and earlier age, it’s never been more important to show kids that there is still a lot to be learned from the world around us. It’s good for the soul, good for the mind and good for relationships.
Have we sold you on camping? Good! Now let’s talk planning. In this article we will cover the following tips for camping with toddlers:
- Pick the location and date
- Find the right gear
- Plan well and put safety first
- Pack like a pro
- Relax on routines and enjoy the trip
5 tips for camping with toddlers
Tip #1: Determine when and where
Depending on where you are in the world, you’re going to want to make sure that the National Park or designated camping ground doesn’t have any active warnings. Also make sure you have the proper permits in place and have booked in advance if required.
You’re also going to want to choose a time of year weather wise that’s easier for kids. While some people may love camping in the snow, we can assure you that toddlers don’t and you’re not going to want to haul all the necessary gear for them to safely show you that they don’t like camping in the arctic tundra.
Remember – the more moderate the temperatures, the less stuff you need to bring!
Tip #2: Find the right gear
Just because it’s the summer and insanely hot during the day, it doesn’t mean that it stays hot a night. Temperatures can drop – fast, which is why it’s important to research where you’re going and then find the appropriately rated sleeping bags and pyjamas to suit.
Depending on how hard you’re ‘roughing it’ you are going to want to source different things. If you’re planning on making your own campsite, make sure everyone has their own folding chair and have a look for family sized tents that let you all comfortably sleep near each other. Preparing your own food? Make a meal plan for the weekend or week and be sure to bring plenty of non-perishable snacks and water. It’s also wise to consider what to do with your waste. Having a trash bag with food in your campsite can lure animals, in particular bears.
If you want to rent a camper van, be sure to ask a lot of questions. Since toddlers aren’t the best sleepers, it’s good to know if the beds have railing options, the windows have black out shades (in case you know they can’t live without that day sleep) and that the toilet is easy to use/ service.
Going glamping? You’re still going to want the appropriate clothing like hiking boots and warm outerwear, but probably don’t have to worry about bringing things like a sleeping bag or gas cook top. (Again – always check with the venue before going.)
Tip #3: Put safety first
Since a lot of camping situations involve sitting around a fire, we cannot stress how important it is to talk to your kids about being fire safe. Kids love to run and the campsite needs to be a no run zone.
To help keep everyone as safe as possible we recommend bringing a fire extinguisher, fire blanket and first aid kit.
Tip #4: Pack like a pro
Now that you have the gear, you need to strategize just how you’re going to make things last, keep things clean, efficiently dry wet shoes/ towels and transport it from Point A to Point B.
If you’re out for a walk or swim and need to put your suit back in your bag, you’re going to want a wet bag, These waterproof zipper bags are a great way to keep other things in your pack from getting wet while in transport.
At night, be sure to pack things away like sneakers, towels and jackets undercover. Just like the temperature, rain can drop just like that!
It’s also a good idea to remember that you may need some entertainment. Cards, coloring books, story books and wildlife/plant identification books are all great ideas.
Let’s be honest – a toddler can’t carry a whole lot so if you want to incorporate hiking, we suggest setting up base somewhere accessible first and then going on short day hikes. (Because you’re probably going to have to carry your toddler.)
Sample Packing List for a toddler for a two night camping trip in warm weather:
- 1 x Hiking boots/ high quality sneakers
- 2 x High thick socks
- 1 x long sleeve shirt
- 2 x short sleeve shirts
- 2 x shorts
- 1 x pants
- 1 x extra warm pyjamas
- 1 x raincoat or poncho
- 1 x flip flops
- 1 x swimsuit
- 1 x hooded towel (doubles as a post swim cover up)
- 1 x bath towel
- 1 x sleeping bag
- 1 x pillow
- 1 x flash light
- 1 x wide brim hat
- 1 x wet bag
- bug spray
- wet wipes
- water bottle
Tip #5: Go with the flow
The number one thing parents seem to worry about is sticking to routines and sleep schedules. The wonderful thing about camping is that if you opt to leave your devices at home you can let Mother Nature’s alarm clock reset your body clock. Still really want them to go to sleep at 7pm? Find a tent or camper van that can adequately block out the light.
Our Camping Faves:
Re-Play Red, White and Blue Dish Set
Made from recycled milk jugs, this set is lightweight, durable, non-toxic and would be particularly cute on your Fourth of July camping trip!
Erbaviva Children’s Buzz Spray
USDA Certified Organic, Erbaviva’s Children’s Buzz Spray is a safe and non-toxic way to keep your tot protected from bug bites.
Easy to apply, Erbaviva’s sunscreen is hypoallergenic, water resistant, vegan, all natural and won’t leave a waxy white residue.
Nook Sleep Systems Pebble Pillow Jr.
Sleeping away from home is hard, especially if it’s on the floor of a tent. While it may seem silly to pack an entire pillow, this little gem may literally save the day. Made in the USA, eco-friendly, non-toxic, Nook’s Pebble Pillow Jr is a smaller version that every kid will love.
Wean Green Kitchen Starter Set
Particularly handy if you’re setting up camp for more than a few days, the Wean Green storage containers are made from 100% recycled glass, which means you don’t have to worry about any toxic plastics leaching into your food.
Bloom Nano High Chair
Again, we know you might be thinking, WHAT? A high chair – but yes! Having a safe spot to put your child for feeding, coloring, reading and resting is always a good idea. The Bloom Nano highchair is insanely easy to wipe down + folds up super small.
When you have a toddler, there is no situation in life that doesn’t call for a wet wipe. (Are we right?!) We love Made of Baby Wipes because they’re hypoallergenic and free of harsh chemicals.
Stokke Flexi Bath with Newborn Support
This genius bath folds up flat, making it ideal for camper van bath time.
Made from 100% recycled materials, this Lea & Jojo raincoat offers great functionality and versatility, it can be used separately or combined with fleece jackets, lightweight down sweater jackets or puff jackets, when it gets colder.