Father with children in a tent

The Top 12 Family Camping Tips

A family camping trip promises adventure, bonding, and many precious memories. But with little ones in tow, meticulous planning is essential to ensure a stress-free and enjoyable experience for everyone. These 12 ultimate family camping tips and tricks will prepare you for your outdoor adventure.

Top Family Camping Tips

  1. Pick the right campsite
  2. Pack the food they like
  3. Let your kids feel involved
  4. Stay organized
  5. Make chores fun
  6. Plan activities
  7. Set ground rules
  8. Make the most of nature
  9. Stick to similar bedtimes
  10. Keep sleep comfortable
  11. Pack a first aid kit
  12. Bring a camera to capture memories

1. Pick The Right Campsite

Step one of the ultimate camping adventure is to choose your campground wisely! Seek out campsites bursting with family-friendly amenities, like clean restrooms and exciting nearby activities. State parks often offer excellent options for family camping trips, providing a balance of nature and convenience.

Research and Reserve Early

Start your planning by researching potential campsites well in advance. Popular spots can fill up quickly, especially during peak seasons. Make reservations early to secure your preferred dates and site.

2. Pack The Food They Like

One surefire way to keep everyone happy during your camping trip is to pack kid-approved foods. Involve the entire family in meal planning and let them choose some of their favorite snacks and meals. Don't forget to include easy-to-cook camping meals and plenty of pick-me-ups for energy boosts throughout the day. You’ll also want a high-quality cooler to keep things fresh.

People using a 46 Quart Cubix cooler on a camping trip

Create a Camping Meal Plan

Before you hit the road, create a camping meal plan to ensure you have all the ingredients you need. Opt for simple and nutritious camping recipes that are easy to prepare over a campfire or camping stove. Don't forget to pack kitchen supplies like utensils, pots, and pans. You’ll also want a high-quality cooler, like a Cubix cooler, to keep things fresh.

3. Let Your Kids Feel Involved

It's time to ignite their sense of adventure! Get the kiddos involved in every step of the camping journey, from setting up camp to gathering firewood (where allowed).

Assign age-appropriate tasks or tailor them to fit the age and abilities of your young adventurers. Whether it's washing dishes or collecting fire-starter twigs, there's a role for everyone.

4. Stay Organized

Staying organized helps more than you know. Handling kids on a camping adventure is not the simplest of tasks, so making your life easier where you can, saves you some frustration. Before camping, you can make a camping checklist and ask your kiddos if there’s anything they want to add to it.

From packing to camp set-up, you’ll want to use storage bags, bins, boxes, and crates to keep your kitchen supplies and other equipment in separate compartments. For example, anything kitchen-related goes into one box; tent gear goes into another.

A couple packing a car for a camping trip

5. Make Chores Fun

Who said chores have to be a drag? Transform mundane tasks into thrilling activities with a sprinkle of imagination. Assign tasks like washing dishes or setting up their sleeping area and reward their efforts with a small treat or extra campfire stories before bed.

If you have more than one kiddo, you can turn chores into a friendly competition by setting up a chore challenge and then offering prizes to the winner!

6. Plan Activities

The number one problem you could run into is your kid's boredom. Bring toys, family games, coloring pages, and a laptop with movies (just in case). Obviously, movies aren’t the best way to enjoy the wilderness, and there are plenty of adventurous things to do.

Some classic camping activities include:

  • Scavenger Hunts: Create a nature scavenger hunt to encourage exploration.
  • Star Gazing: Bring a star chart or download a stargazing app, like SkyView, to identify constellations together.
  • Nature Crafts: Gather natural materials like leaves, pinecones, and rocks to create nature-inspired crafts. Let the kids' creativity run wild as they make leaf rubbings, painted rocks, or nature collages.  Ensure you follow the leave-no-trace principles and only collect where allowed!
Children doing nature crafts

7. Set Ground Rules

Before you start your grand camping quest, it's time to lay down the law. Establish ground rules to ensure a safe and enjoyable journey for all. From wildlife safety to campground etiquette, give your children a full rundown! You might also want to set boundaries where your children can roam and play, especially pre-teens and teenagers.

8. Make The Most Of Nature

It’s not every day your children get to see the great outdoors! Take nature walks, go birdwatching, or stargaze at night. Use the opportunity to teach children about the environment and foster a love for nature.

How To Plan a Nature Scavenger Hunt

Create a list of items for a nature scavenger hunt and see how many your family can find. Include things like pinecones, wildflowers, animal tracks, and different types of leaves. Offer a small prize for completing the scavenger hunt to keep things exciting.

9. Stick To Similar Bedtimes

Bedtime routines don’t have to be super strict, but it doesn’t help to throw routine out the window. Maintaining consistent bedtimes while camping helps ensure everyone gets enough rest for the day's adventures. Stick to bedtime routines as you would at home, including brushing your teeth and telling bedtime stories before tucking in for the night.

10. Keep Sleep Comfortable

Rest easy under the starry sky with a little help from your trusty camping gear. Pack a comfortable sleeping bag, air mattresses, and cozy blankets for a blissful slumber! You might also want to bring a fan for those days of unbearable heat and bug spray so the bed bugs don’t bite.

Three children sleeping in a tent

11. Pack a First Aid Kit

Know that playing in the outdoors often leaves kids with minor injuries like scratches – and you’ll want to disinfect them. Pack a comprehensive first aid kit containing essentials like bandages, antiseptic wipes, insect repellent, sunscreen, pain relievers, and any necessary prescription medications. 

12. Bring a Camera to Capture Memories

From breathtaking landscapes to candid moments of joy, capturing the essence of your family camping journey is more than worthwhile. Documenting your family camping trip allows you to relive and share the memories with loved ones. Encourage kids to take their own photos. They can even create their own camping adventure scrapbook!

Camera taking a photo of a beautiful river

FAQs

Family camping trips can be challenging, but these frequent queries may help guide you:

Is camping good for kids?

Yes, camping offers kids the chance to experience nature, stay physically active, disconnect from screens, bond with family, and learn valuable life skills, creating a holistic experience that fosters growth and a deeper appreciation for the outdoors.

What is the best age to camp with kids?

It’s best to start camping when your children are three to four years old. Toddlers are better at sleeping through the night and communicating their needs. However, it’s possible to camp with any age child as long as you plan properly.

Final Thoughts on Family Camping Tips

A family camping adventure is not just about pitching tents and roasting marshmallows—it's about creating lasting memories and embracing the great outdoors together.

With these top 12 tips for camping with family, from picking the perfect campsite to capturing precious moments with a camera, you're equipped to enjoy the outdoors – kids and all. And don't forget to pack your Cubix cooler to keep those snacks fresh and your spirits high throughout your camping journey!