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10 Essentials To Make Your Family Camping Trip a Success!

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*this is a guest post from Jenny of Mom Loves Best

Want to go camping with your family this fall? It’s a great way to make long-lasting family memories – but the prospect of packing can be daunting. What do you really need to make your trip a success?

There are all kinds of camping tricks, tips, and hacks out there, but I’ve got a thorough yet simple family camping checklist to make life so much easier for you.

If you’re ready to take the plunge and head out to the great outdoors with your favorite crew, make sure you pack these ten camping essentials so you can be assured that your family camping trip will go smoothly.

camping gear checklist

1. Tent

This is a no-brainer, but you can’t go camping without a place to sleep. And if you want to do it comfortably, make sure you choose a tent with a sleeping capacity about double the size of your family. Sure, your standard four-man tent will fit four people – but none of your luggage, shoes, or toys. To ensure you have enough room to sleep, change, and move around, pick a tent that holds more people than you need. Some tents also double as overnight and beach tents, which camping hack that will save you som money.

2. Sleeping Bags and Pillows

Bring sleeping bags for everyone in your family, but skip that character-themed bag your kiddo got for his last birthday present. Those are best used for sleepovers, and provide practically zero insulation or padding in the great outdoors. Get proper sleeping bags for your little ones (just buy adult-sized ones that they will be able to use for years to come), and don’t forget to pack your pillows from home. If there’s one thing that gets forgotten more than anything, it’s pillows.

3. Camp Stove

You need to be able to cook and heat food. Whether it’s a full camp stove or a single propane-fueled burner, you’ll want to have a fuel source to be able to cook things (like s’mores!) at the drop of the hat without having to make a full campfire.

4. Lighter

If there’s one thing you don’t want to forget, it’s the lighter. You’ll need it to start your campfire at night, and maybe even your stove (depending on the model you have). If you don’t have your lighter, it’s going to make your whole trip harder.

A simple lighter is one of those things that is essential when it comes to camping gear.

5. Cooler

Bring a cooler to keep your food cold – and choose one that’s a little bigger than you think it needs to be. There’s always something else to throw in the cooler. And, you want to make sure you have enough space to fit everything you need. It’s even better if it’s on wheels, so it’s easier to tote from your car to your campsite.

6. First Aid Kit

You hope nothing goes wrong, and you’re probably right – but it’s best to be prepared in case something does. Always bring a first aid kit with you camping. This includes everything from headaches to bug bites to a more serious accident. But with a first aid kit, you’ll be able to take care of it quickly since you’re likely to be more than a few miles from civilization. Plus, if you’re traveling with small kids there are few afflictions that can’t be healed with a band-aid, so make sure you pack plenty (bonus if they’re character-themed).

If you are camping with kids, this is one thing you will want to be certain is part of your camping checklist.

7. Lantern/Headlamp

You’re going to need a light source, so make sure you pack some – along with replacement batteries. Pack enough for each of your kids to have their own, too. What child doesn’t love running around with a flashlight in the campground after dark?

8. Baby Seat

If you’re traveling with an infant or early toddler, make sure you bring a place to put them. Otherwise, you’ll be carrying them all day long. Whether it’s a high chair, a bouncy seat, a pack-n-play, or a Bumbo, choose an age-appropriate place to put them when they’re not with you, so they’ll be adequately entertained.

When camping with kids, things like this are so easy to forget, but you will be so glad your little one has a place just for them.

9. Dish Bin

You can use a bucket, large pot, or a simple dish basin, but things are going to be considerably easier if you have a place to wash your dishes. Bring a large container (along with dish soap) to wash your dishes or simply hold water while you’re cleaning up from meal times.

This doesn’t have to be anything fancy, and if you have a larger family you may even want more than one to make the cleanup process even easier.

10. Paper Plates/Dishes

Make things easier on yourself and bring disposable plates, cups, and utensils. While it’s good to be eco-friendly, sometimes you need to prioritize your sanity over the environment. If you’re just starting out on camping adventures with your family, consider taking disposable items instead of washables – it’s one less thing you’ll have to deal with.

Even if you are only doing this for one meal a day, it will make it much easier for you to enjoy yourself a bit more. After all, it’s supposed to be a vacation, right? And, you’ll have more time for making family memories as well.

Camping with your family can be great fun, but it can quickly turn into a frustrating experience if you don’t pack the right camping gear gear. Take the pressure off yourself by packing things that are right for your season of life, even if that means it’s disposable dishware and a tent big enough for a family of twelve.

You’ll never forget the memories made with your kids – and your kids will never forget them, either.

What’s your best tip for camping with kids?

About the Author

Jenny is the mother of two, a coffee addict, and a lover of the great ideas. You can find her sharing her journey through motherhood on her blog Mom Loves Best or pinning up a storm on Pinterest.

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  1. I like your suggestion to make sure that you get a cooler that is on wheels so that it’s easier to transport it. My husband and I want to introduce our kids to the great outdoors, and we think that it would be a good idea to go camping to do that. Your tips will help us get the right camping gear to make our trip a success.

  2. My husband and I are bringing the family camping, and it has been so long since we last went! I appreciate your advice to make sure that we bring a big bucket for a dish bin. I would have totally forgot about dishes, so this is great advice!

  3. We love to camp! I try to bring easy to heat/reheat, pre-made meals…frozen ahead of time (to help keep the cooler cool!), and/or quick to prepare meals. It makes meal time fast, easy, and nutritious. And it means mama doesn’t have to do a ton of cooking! We also like to eat more than just hotdogs….so we plan delicious AND nutritious meals! (We have friends who believe that open air cooking and tent camping mean that they will cook gourmet meals….and they bring expensive ingredients and fantastic foods with them! DELicious….but they enjoy cooking more than I do….i’m more about it tasting yummy AND cooking quickly!)

    We tend to camp for a few days at a time,and it takes less space for us to pack 4 plates and 4 bowls than it does paper products for those days, so everyone is in charge of washing their plate, bowl, and silverware immediately after every meal! We have a washing pan, a rinsing pan, and a dish drainer. (When we had an rv, we had more room to store paper products, and used them more. But now that the kids are used to the wash their own stuff asap rule, once we go back to rv camping, we will continue that!)

    We tend to stay in camp sites with electricity. Mama needs her air mattress (self inflating, 2′ high). Mama also enjoys a fan when it is warm….and a heater when it is cold! 😉 So, I don’t primitive camp! (I also NEED a warm shower and a real toilet!). We have NICE camping chairs for around the fire.

    The kids….they play in whatever water they can find, and when not in the water….they are usually playing in the dirt! We bring their bikes or scooters when we can, and they also have walkie talkies….so they can have some freedom…..while we know where they are/what they are doing! They are tween/early teen, and still have rules and boundaries, and they are good about following said rules and boundaries. We started off small, and worked our way up to a bit more freedom.

    The kids have their own small tent, and we have our own bigger tent. They love feeling grown up! Except that one time the coyotes were hollering….but then, mama didn’t feel very grown up, either!

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