What to know about going camping with family?

Before you set off on a family camping trip, there are a few things you should know. This includes why family camping is important, whether or not you should take your dog, how to cater to kids of different ages, and how to prepare for your trip.

Why is family camping important?

Family camping is a great way to get your kids outdoors and away from their electronics, and to teach them new things. It also lets you spend quality time together and confers both of you, according to various studies, several physical and mental health benefits.

What are benefits of family camping?

The main benefits of family camping are spending quality time together, teaching your kids new skills, learning new things together, and strengthening relationships. It’s also a far cheaper way to get a good vacation.

What are drawbacks of family camping?

The main drawbacks of family camping are the effort required to plan and prepare for your trip, the potential for mishaps, the risk of your kids not enjoying it, and the risk of poor weather spoiling the fun.

When not to go camping with family?

We’ve made a short list of times when you should avoid going camping with your family below.

  • In extreme weather conditions (hot, cold, or wet)
  • In pollen season (spring if you have tree pollen allergies, summer if you have grass pollen allergies, fall if you’re allergic to ragweed pollen)
  • If you’re tired – camping with kids is fun but exhausting!
  • On holiday weekends if you prefer peace and quiet
  • If you aren’t adequately prepared

What features to look for in family camping gear?

You want family camping gear that’s easy to set up and use and robust enough to withstand use and abuse. This applies to everything from your sun canopy and tent to your camp stove and camping lanterns. With tents, you want as much space as possible. If you have teens, we highly recommend buying a multi-room tent or a high-capacity tent with a single room divider for privacy.

How to make family camping more comfortable?

Below, we’ve made a short list of tips to help make family camping trips more comfortable.

  • Choose a spacious tent with room dividers and a vestibule or screen room
  • Bring blankets and pillows from home
  • Invest in good camping chairs
  • Bring a hammock to lounge in
  • Choose a campsite with good amenities
  • Consider glamping for your first few trips
  • Bring a tent fan in hot weather and a tent heater in cold weather
  • Consider using camping cots
  • Bring a cooler
  • Bring proper lighting
  • Use bug nets
  • Make sure your sleep systems (sleeping bag, sleeping pad, and pillow) are top-notch

What sleeping options are best for camping families?

If you have older kids, we recommend buying a multi-room family tent to give you, and your kids, a little privacy. Alternatively, you can let the kids sleep in one tent while the adults sleep in the other. If your kids are younger, you’ll likely want to keep them close, in which case your best option is a high-capacity family tent.

What to consider for a family camping location?

For your first few trips, we recommend choosing a campsite near your home. This way, you can bail and return to base in the event of any mishaps. On following trips, choose somewhere with good amenities, nearby attractions that appeal to family members, and a location that excites everyone.

What campsite amenities are ideal for families?

The main amenities to look for when camping with your family are hot showers, laundry, sports facilities, a games room, a swimming pool, a play area, a restaurant, kitchens, and assault courses or zip lines.

What are safety concerns when camping with family?

The main safety concerns when camping with your family are wildlife, getting lost, allergic reactions, gastrointestinal issues from poor food hygiene of unpurified water, poisonous plants and insects, and severe weather conditions.

Should you take pet dogs camping?

Yes! It’s both feasible and fun to camp with dogs, but dog owners should be aware that many camping areas – most U.S. national parks, for example – do not allow dogs in their campsites.

Are some dog breeds better for camping?

The best dog breeds for camping are German shepherds, Border collies, huskies, and Rhodesian ridgebacks, all of which love the great outdoors. If you’re car camping and don’t plan on being active, however, there’s no reason why you can take your chihuahua or dachshund! 

What are benefits of camping with your dog?

The benefits of camping with your dog are security (breed-dependent, of course!), not having to find a dog sitter, and letting them enjoy an exciting new environment.

What are drawbacks of camping with your dog?

The main drawbacks of camping with your dog are limited space inside your tent, the potential for wildlife encounters, having to carry extra gear and food, the risk of ticks, additional planning (not all campsites welcome dogs), and the added responsibility.

What to pack for camping with your dog?

Below, we’ve made a list of everything you’ll need when camping with your dog.

  • Leash and harness/collar
  • Drinking bowl
  • Food bowl
  • Blanket/bed
  • I.D. tags
  • Nighttime collar safety light
  • Poo bags
  • Doggie first aid kit (with tick remover)
  • Healing balm for paw pads
  • Towel
  • Food, treats, water
  • Toys
  • Whistle
  • Bear bell

Can a dog sleep in my camping tent?

Yes! If you have room for them, your dog can sleep inside your tent. Many campers are concerned about their dog’s claws ripping the tent fabric, but this will only happen with a very poorly made tent – with a good, dog-friendly tent, there’s no need to worry. Just make sure your dog is used to being in a tent by letting them try it out at home and make sure you open all vents to let fresh air in.

Will my dog get cold when camping?

Small and old dogs, as well as those with short coats, can get cold at night if temperatures drop below 60 °F. Younger, larger, and long-haired dogs, on the other hand, will usually be okay camping out in far lower temperatures. If in doubt, bring along a warm doggy blanket or a doggy sleeping bag! 

Are all campsites dog-friendly?

No, while there are many private and public campgrounds that are dog-friendly, many camping areas – most U.S. national parks, for example – do not allow dogs in their campsites.

What safety concerns for camping with a dog?

The main safety concerns when camping with a dog are ticks, wildlife encounters, other dogs, and drinking water from sources with protozoa that may cause gastrointestinal issues.

What regulations are there for camping with a dog?

Regulations for camping with dogs vary widely from campground to campground. 

Almost all campgrounds require your dog to be leashed, and most will specify how long your leash can be (6’ is common). 

Most campgrounds understand that barking can’t always be controlled. However, if your dog is a serial barker and is disturbing other campers, you may be asked to leave. Needless to say, the same is true if your dog behaves aggressively.

Some campgrounds may ask for your dog’s vaccination records and may also require proof of flea and tick preventatives they have been given.

What camping etiquette should you train your dog?

Below, we’ve made a short list of campground etiquette for dogs and their owners.

  • Use a leash. Almost all campgrounds require dogs to be leashed.
  • Follow the rules. Rules for pets vary widely from one campground to another – make sure you know what they are and stick to them.
  • No barking. Make sure your dog is well-trained before heading to any campground. If he/she is a barker, it could ruin the experience for everyone in the vicinity.
  • No begging. Dogs are happy to gatecrash neighbors’ barbecues and dinners in pursuit of food. While the neighbors may be happy to see your dog at other times, mealtimes will likely be a whole other story.
  • Pick up the poo. This one doesn’t need explaining!
  • Don’t leave your dog unattended. Dogs are more likely to cause a disturbance if left alone.
  • Get your dog vaccinated. To avoid your dog catching and spreading ticks, fleas, or illnesses like canine influenza to other dogs, make sure they are up to date with their shots and bug preventatives before your trip.

What do different age groups need when camping?

Babies, toddlers, young kids, older kids, teens, and adults all need very different things when camping. This includes gear, food, entertainment, activities, and supervision.

How to prep kids for camping?

To prep your kids for a camping trip, it’s best to acclimate them gently to the outdoor experience. Start by taking them on short hikes in nature and then spend a night or two with your kids camping in your yard or somewhere near your home. It’s also a good idea to get your kids involved in the planning process and start off camping somewhere with good amenities.

How to keep kids entertained when camping?

To keep your kids entertained while camping, we recommend you choose a campground with amenities such as a swimming pool, organized games, and a games room. Alternatively, get them involved in a nature scavenger hunt, take them hiking, kayaking, or fishing, and bring along something they can watch movies on at night.

What essentials to pack for camping with kids?

When camping with kids, you’ll need to pack all your tent equipment, your “basecamp supplies” (miscellaneous items like lanterns, light, matches, and a saw for wood), clothing, footwear, cooking and cleaning equipment, food, hygiene supplies, first aid supplies, and any luxury items you or your kids want to have at camp.

How to involve children in camping chores?

Whatever camping chores you give your kids, just make sure they are supervised in case anything goes wrong or they fail to do correctly something that needs to be done right. A few chores you might give are collecting firewood, chopping vegetables, building a campfire, washing dishes, or dumpster runs. To smooth the transition from dependents to active participants, let them choose the chores they want to do.

How to involve kids with camping meals?

To begin with, let your kids get involved in making a camping menu at home. That way, they can have no complaints when it comes to mealtime at camp, right? At camp, delegate tasks, such as washing veg, setting the table, chopping ingredients, or washing or drying dishes. This way, they’ll come to feel less like passengers in the camping experience and more like collaborators.

How to camp safely with a toddler?

Below, we’ve listed a few tips to increase safety when camping with your toddler.

  • Bring toddler-appropriate versions of the Ten Essentials
  • Write the site number on their hand
  • Ensure they are supervised at all times
  • Bring a playpen
  • Use a child leash
  • Use shoe bells
  • Bring a toddler first aid kit
  • Avoid camping next to water
  • Research poisonous plants in the area
  • Keep them a safe distance from your campfire.
  • Do regular tick checks

What essentials to pack when camping with a toddler?

Below, we’ve made a short list of everything you should bring, in addition to all your regular camping gear, when camping with a toddler.

  • Stroller or carrier
  • Foam flooring pads for your tent or seating area
  • Portable bed or crib
  • Playpen
  • Snacks, snacks, and more snacks! 
  • Child leash and harness
  • Bib
  • Toddler-friendly eating utensils
  • Toddler-friendly bug spray
  • Mosquito net
  • Portable potty
  • Nighttime pee pad
  • Diapers, changing mat, wipes, and skin cream
Can you bring a stroller for toddler camping?

Yes, in most developed campgrounds the paths will be paved or well enough maintained for a regular stroller – it is, however, worth checking in advance. Elsewhere, you can either use a carrier or an all-terrain stroller.

How to handle toddler bathroom needs while camping?

To handle your toddler’s bathroom needs while camping, we recommend you camp at a campground with toilet facilities and bring a portable potty, nighttime pee pads (if they don’t sleep in diapers), diapers, a changing mat, wipes, skin cream, and doggie poo bags to dispose of used diapers. 

How early can you take a baby camping?

There is no perfect time to start camping with your baby. The best time is, simply, whenever you feel comfortable. Many newbie parents take their baby camping at the tender age of one or two months, so there’s no “too young” as long as you are prepared. At this age, of course, it’s far easier to camp at a resort.

How to camp safely with a baby?

Below, we’ve listed a few tips to increase safety when camping with your baby.

  • Ensure they are supervised at all times
  • Dress your baby in layers
  • Bring warm blankets and clothing
  • Bring a sun hat and baby-friendly sunscreen
  • Bring an all-terrain stroller or carrier
  • Stay in the shade as much as possible
  • Bring wearable bug nets
  • Bring a baby first aid kit

What essentials to pack when camping with a baby?

Below, we’ve made a short list of everything you should bring, in addition to all your regular camping gear, when camping with a baby.

  • Stroller or carrier
  • Foam flooring pads for your tent or seating area
  • Portable bed or crib
  • Playpen
  • Bib
  • Baby-friendly bug spray and sunscreen
  • Nighttime bug net
  • Wearable bug net
  • Sun hat
  • Portable potty
  • Nighttime pee pad
  • Diapers, changing mat, wipes, and skin cream

How to get teenagers excited about camping?

Below, we’ve listed some tips to help you get your teenager excited about your camping trip.

  • Let them help with the planning
  • Research nearby attractions
  • Plan activities
  • Choose a campground with teenager-friendly amenities
  • Give them some freedom to do their own thing

How to bond with teenagers on a camping trip?

The best way to bond with your teenager on a camping trip is to do things you both enjoy together, whether that be hiking, fishing, foraging, photography, playing camping games for teens, building campfires, kayaking, or anything else they are happy to do together. It’s also a good idea to get them involved in planning and give them some responsibilities so as to feel more of an equal, rather than a dependent, in the camping family.

How to prep for going on a family camping trip?

Below, we’ve made a list of our top tips for preparing for a camping trip with your family.

  • Research your destination
  • Make a reservation
  • Have a ‘Plan B’
  • Create a detailed gear checklist
  • Test out your gear
  • Plan activities
  • Plans snacks and meals
  • Stock up on first aid supplies, camping stove fuel, water, and food
  • Bring rain gear for everyone
  • Do a few ‘practice runs’ by camping in your yard at home or in a nearby park or nature area

What essentials to include in a family camping checklist?

In addition to the regular Ten Essentials, we recommend you add to your family camping checklist games for rainy days, a screen tent, extra cleaning equipment, extra cutlery and plates, bowls, and cups, gear for activities you can do together, a customized first aid kit, and a few luxury items for both kids and adults.

How to customize a family camping checklist?

To customize a family camping checklist, just add to the list your version(s) of each of the Ten Essentials, then add any personal items, medication, and food or supplies that cater to dietary restrictions or allergies.

How to involve kids in camping checklist organization?

The best way to involve kids in camping checklist organization is to first ask them to lay out all “luxury” or comfort items they think are essential (there may be some disagreement here!) and secondly to get them to do an inventory of all checklist items once you’ve sourced them and laid them out prior to packing. 

What mistakes are made with family camping checklists?

The most common mistakes made with family camping checklists are forgetting small essentials like toothpaste or TP, packing way too much, not bringing adequate rain gear, and not storing gear separately so it’s easy to locate.

What are some family camping games?

Some of our favorite family camping games are flashlight tag, cornholes, frisbee, charades, hot potatoes, the name game, who am I?, ladder toss, and boules.

What family games to play in a camping tent?

A few games and activities you can play and do in your camping tent are listed below.

  • Cards
  • Board games
  • Coloring
  • Whittling (in the vestibule!)
  • Maya
  • After Eight
  • Twister
  • Bingo