Family camping is a great activity for everyone, provided you are prepared, especially if you are taking younger children along with you. Here are some tips for a successful family camping trip.
Planning a family camping vacation just takes a little preparation. You need to consider everyones different interests and stay within your budget. Camping is a good way to have an inexpensive family vacation at least after the initial investment in supplies, as it is most often a cheaper alternative to hotels.
Campgrounds that cater to family camping usually offer events for the whole family. Many family campgrounds have theme weekends with special activities which adds a layer of excitement.
Most campgrounds have swimming pools or waterfront access as well as playgrounds and there are always plenty of kids around.
If you were hoping to do some sight seeing as well, campgrounds are popping up on the outskirts of many major cities so you can enjoy the fun of family camping while still visiting local museums, theme parks, and other points of interest.
By choosing to camp you have the option to prepare meals daily instead of buying meals at a restaurant. An investment in a good camp stove will allow you to make family favorites like pasta and save loads in restaurant bills.
You can also make lunch sandwiches to take on outings, or enjoy a bowl of cereal each morning at the picnic table.
Unlike many city hotels, parking is included with most site rentals at campgrounds so you don’t have to worry about budgeting extra for overnight parking.
Most campgrounds include amenities like heated washrooms, showers, laundromats, and even WiFi so the degree to which you “rough it” is up to you!
Usually campgrounds designed for family camping have an indoor games room or meeting place for the kids, particularly good if you have teenagers who instinctively want to spend time with others of their own age.
If you are considering a family campground, ask if it has a games room or other place with activities for the older kids, particularly on a rainy day.
If you have room in your vehicle, many families take bicycles with them on family camping trips as the campgrounds offer lots of roads for children to ride where there is not too much traffic. Some family campgrounds offer bikes that you can rent.
When you check-in at the campground, pick up a brochure listing the activities offered, and find out the times, locations of those activities etc. Usually there is something for everyone, so it is a good idea to review the activities and decide which ones everyone wants to do. Wagon rides, sing-a-longs, teen dances, swimming lessons, are among some of the many activities often offered at parks catering to family camping.
Upon arrival at the campground, spend a few minutes with younger children exploring the campground, showing them where the pool, activity center, etc are located and make sure they memorize the road name and campsite number where you are located.
Some campgrounds have myriads of roads and it can be frightening if a child cannot find their way back to their particular campsite. Show them their boundaries, where they are not allowed to go, such as beyond the campground gate, or past the campground store etc.
Also ensure they understand that there are vehicles on the roads and they need to be aware of that and get off the road when a vehicle is coming.
Children should be advised to stay out of other campsites, and not to be running through areas where others are camping. Most family campgrounds have playgrounds and open “greenbelts” where children can run, play games or other do other activities like flying a kite.
Camping is also a perfect opportunity for family bonding. It requires a great amount of teamwork to get tents set up, prepare meals, build campfires, and so on.
Encourage your children to assist in the setting up the tent, unpacking etc, make their participation important, even if Dad does do a bit of swearing when he is trying to figure out which tent pole goes where….
If you all share one tent it can be fun being all one place. Little children really get a kick out of sleeping in a tent with Mom and Dad, while the older ones often enjoy sharing a tent of their own.
A nightly campfire provides a chance to unwind together and talk about the fun of the day and what might be on the agenda for the next day. It’s quiet time that doesn’t often exist in the hustle and bustle of every day life amid the distractions of video games and television.
Buying Quality Gear Pays Off
If you’ve never camped before you will need to invest a little money up front in camping supplies, but if you buy quality gear you’ll have it for years to come!
Family Camping Safety
If you are camping with young children be sure to explain camping safety to them. Major points of course, fire safety, caution around the camp stove and camping lanterns, make sure to tell someone where you are going if you leave the campsite and going to the bathroom with a buddy at night.
Swimming, whether in a pool, lake or ocean adds another dimension to be considered. Younger children should never be at the pool without a parent, and older children should only be around the pool when there is a lifeguard on duty and always with a buddy.
It’s helpful to have regular “check-in” times for all children, when they can report back to Mom and Dad. That also eliminates the need for parents to go looking all over the campground to find the children. For older children, having a pair of these Two-Way Radios can be really helpful. It puts you in contact with your kids and vice versa and saves you having to go find them at meal times etc. You can call them on the radio and tell them it’s time to come for supper!!!
Be sure to have a fully stocked first aid kit, sunscreen & bug spray. Insist on everyone applying and re-applying sunscreen throughout the day to avoid sunburn. Remember, when camping, most of the time you are outside, exposed to the sun and wind which can be hard on skin, especially the skin of younger children.
It can be helpful to pack some extra blankets. It can sometimes get cool at night and your children will appreciate being snuggled in a their sleeping bag with an extra blanket or two on top to keep them cosy and warm. If your child has a favorite stuffed toy or teddy bear, make sure he comes along on the camping trip too, it will help make the trip less stressful, especially for younger children not used to sleeping in a tent.
Family camping trips are a fantastic way to enjoy a family vacation while saving a little money. It’s a chance to bond, spend more time outdoors and see the sights of a new city. It’s also a chance to enjoy have a little adventure close to home if that better fits your summer schedule, two days of camping can be a perfect escape from the pressures of everyday life.
When planning a trip of any kind, it’s always important to do your research. Compare prices, amenities and distance to area attractions. Consider the online reviews of previous campers and find the campground that suits your needs best!