There is a lot that goes into camping but even more when you are camping with kids. You are not just watching our for yourself but also for your little ones. I have created this blog post to help other parents better prepare for their next camping trip with their children.
Disclaimer: There are affiliate links in this post. To learn more about how affiliate links work please read our Disclosure Policy. Thank you for using our links and for your support.
WHY YOU SHOULD GO CAMPING WITH YOUR KIDS
Camping with kids can teach your children many important life lessons, believe it or not. They will learn patience, endurance, perseverance, responsibility, and much more. But the main reason why you should camp with your children is because it will create a special bonding experience like never before. It will not only bring your family closer together but also create an environment in which you all can enjoy as a family.
Throughout our years of camping as a family I have noticed that those are the times we feel closer together. No television or toys to distract us from one another. No stressing over work and worried about the tasks for the next day. Just a trio with your family in nature for you all to enjoy.
PLANNING YOUR FAMILY CAMPING TRIP
Before even starting to pack you want to plan out your trip. First thing I do is get on Instagram, Pinterest, and Google Maps to find the perfect place to go camping at. Once I find a place we will all like I then check our schedules to see what time frame works best for both my husband and I. I then make reservations and save all of that information in my Camping Trip Planner.
You can grab your FREE 21 page Camping Trip Planner here when you subscribe to our email list. It has pages for reservations, hiking trail planning, packing lists, and so much more.
Now I know how many days and nights my family will be camping for. I then check what the weather is going to be like for that time frame as well as what types of activities we plan on doing. This will help me pack accordingly.
We now have planned our trip and gotten a tentative schedule for the entire trip. I say tentative schedule because with kids things tend to change. I recommend having a back up plan. Say you had a hike to do for that day but you are all worn out from the day before, have a plan B. This always helps you stay busy and make the most out of your trip. Plan B can also be a day to just sit around the campground or just a drive to a scenic spot to watch the sunset.
CAMPING WITH KIDS PACKING LIST
Ok! Now that we know how many days and nights we will be there, what activities we will be doing and even the weather we will be expecting, we can start packing! I kind of went over briefly on this topic about two years ago on this post, 10 Must Haves When Camping with Kids, but lets be honest. There are definitely more than 10 items that you must have and this all varies with season, weather, and destination.
GENERAL PACKING LIST
The general packing list will consist of every day items that you will need to bring when going camping with kids. These are just the main essentials but I will then be breaking this up into each individual season so you can get a better idea of how to better be prepared for the changing climates. As for the general packing list, it includes:
- Shirts/tops for the number of days plus two extras.
- Pants for the number of days plus two extras.
- Underwear for the number of days plus 4 extras.
- Socks for the number of days plus 4 extras. If your kids are like mine, they will go through socks like crazy.
- A hat
FOR IN THE TENT
- Toiletry Bag – I love using my Travel Genixx toiletry bag. It is so perfect for families with many compartments and even a hook to hang in the shower.
- Soap – We love using all natural soaps from Bend Soap Co. Use code TWM10 for 10% off your first purchase.
- Hair ties
- Kula Cloth – A Kula Cloth is a pee cloth which is perfect for girls and women that have to pee outdoors. You can learn more about it here.
- Shower shoes
I created a full female hygiene guide that you can check out. It has more details on how to maintain good hygiene outdoors especially when it comes to “female” issues such as squatting to pee.
Have a child that is experiencing her menstrual cycle? Then this guide on Dealing With Your Menstrual Cycle Outdoors is for you.
PACKING FOR THE RAIN
If you are expecting rain I will highly recommend packing a few extra items. Your main goal is to keep your kids as dry as possible to help prevent health issues such as hypothermia, a cold, fever, or other possible health issues.
- Rain coat or poncho
- Rain boots
- An extra pair of clothes. My kids end up getting wet somehow so I am always finding myself changing their clothes just to keep them as dry as possible.
PACKING FOR COLD WEATHER
This is one that I always play safely. When you are out in the cold you have to make sure to stay warm and hydrated. To keep yourself as warm as possible, I highly recommend using these items when you are camping with kids.
- A base layer/thermals
- Wool socks
- Boots or closed shoes to keep their feet warm.
- Scarf or thermal buff
- Ear muffs
- A coat with wind breaker
When camping with kids in the cold I would highly recommend layering their clothes. I would put on the base layer and then pants and a shirt on top. This is also all depending on how cold it is and how adapted your kids are to the cold. My family and I are not to used to cold temperatures so we always make sure to stay bundled up during the winter. I have also seen families in Canada go out with a jacket and some gloves in 30 degrees weather like its Spring while for us that would be freezing.
Other things I recommend on packing for your kids is:
- A sleeping bag that is built for cold temperatures.
- A thick warm blanket for extra warmth if needed. I would bring one for the sleeping pad or mattress to help keep the cold out of underneath your child while they sleep. We like to use a puffy blanket or a fleece blanket (these two are similar to the ones we use).
- Hand warmers, if needed.
PACKING FOR SUMMER WEATHER
Summer is a whole other ball game. You will definitely want to pack clothes to keep you cool and fresh all throughout the day. Here are a few things that we recommend on bringing.
- Summer dresses for girls
- Tank tops
- Swimsuits – We usually bring two to alternate.
- Mosquito repellent – We like to use Repel because it is deet free and works wonderfully.
- Sunblock – We usually use Raw Elements for shaded hikes or another reef safe or all natural sunscreen.
We always buy all of our clothes at Target. I swear they have the cutest clothes for kids and are very durable. Their swimsuits are super adorable too.
PACKING FOR SPRING AND FALL
I love these two seasons. Fall is my favorite followed by Spring. The funny thing about them though is that it could feel amazing during the day and at night be cold. I remember when my mom and I went to Shawnee National Forest last fall and during our hike it was perfect. It wasn’t too hot or too cold. But when we went to bed, we were freezing. I think the temperature went from the 60’s to the low 40’s that night. We probably looked like little Eskimo caterpillars in our sleeping bags. This is why it is good to bring clothing suitable for the colder nights and the amazing days.
Please note that the weather is different everywhere you go. I’m sure if you go to Florida, for instance, in the Spring or Fall, it will feel like Summer. This is why it is important to know about the destination that you are visiting as well as the weather for the time your trip is planned for.
Here is what I would bring for Spring and Fall when camping with kids:
- Long sleeve shirts
- Short sleeve shirts
- A jacket or hoodie
- Long pants
- Wool socks
- Closed shoes
If you are looking to do a few hikes while you are there then there are a few extra items you should bring with you. I have created two different guides that go over all the essentials that you will need when hiking with a baby as well as when hiking with kids (toddler age and up). I also have a blog post here covering all the details on how to choose the best hikes for your kids.
My kids tend to get bored fairly quickly so I try to always bring numerous things to keep them active throughout our camping trip. Some of our favorite activities when camping with kids are our Camping Scavenger Hunt, which they love. This activity allows them to find and identify various items and animals as well as keeping them entertained around camp. They are perfect to take on your hiking trips as well. You can check them out here and see how you can grab your FREE scavenger hunt. We also have a fun (and free) Constellation Scavenger Hunt as well if you want to check that out too.
Some other items that we bring are books. I bring a variety of books in their backpacks from activity books, drawing notebooks, books to read, and even nature books. My girls like to sit at the picnic table and draw or just lay on the hammock and read a book. You can view all of our favorite outdoor books here. You can also check out my Usborne page to see what fun books they have as well.
If they are not scavenging, reading a book, coloring, or playing in the dirt then you are for sure to find them playing with some toys. Some toys that we always bring with us are:
- A soccer ball
- A baseball and a baseball glove
- A frisbee
- Jump ropes
- And this velcro ball catch game
Looking for more ways to keep your kids entertained? Check out our post on Tips To Entertain Your Kids During Camping Trips.
My girls love keeping a travel journal. This is an excellent way for them to collect flowers and press them in their journal or even leaves. Take pictures with their Canon Ivy Cliq Camera and stick them in their travel journals. It is the most perfect way for them to cherish their memories. It is fun to look at how creative they are and the things they write about too. They are always so excited to write in their travel journals every time we go on a trip.
Quick recap for when camping with kids! Remember to pack according to your destination and to the weather that is being expected for your camping trip. Make sure to always have things to keep your children entertained throughout the camping trip. And last but not least, have fun! Enjoy each other’s company out in nature and make the most of it.
Let’s chat in the comment. What is your go to item to bring for your kids when you go camping?
You can check out more of our Tennessee travel guides here if you like. Also, if you enjoyed this article feel free to sign up for our newsletter here (Free 21 page Camping Planner when you sign-up and full access to our TWM Tribe Resource Library which has monthly freebies and activities for you and your family) or follow our adventures on Instagram so you can stay up to date on upcoming travel adventures, tips, gear reviews, recipes and more. Don’t forget to share or pin to save it. Thank you for reading.