I love a good adventure! So when the opportunity to start off 2019 with a camping trip that would include watching out for manatees…I was in! Sold! I’ve done quite a bit of camping in my life, especially in Connecticut but I’d never done:
- camping in Florida
- camping in cold weather
- tent camping with my kiddos
and last but not least
4. camping with kiddos without my hubby (who has the flu!)
So, even I was ready to call the whole things quits until I thought about my sweet friends whom I planned it with and what adventures and learning we might all miss if we stayed home. After a straight up fight with fear…I decided to go! Like Dale Carnegie said,
If you want to conquer fear, don’t sit at home and think about it. Go out and get busy.”
So I did. Here are my top tips for planning a camping adventure with kids:
1. Plan a camping trip with friends. While planning a trip for just your family could be simpler, planning a trip with friends can add lots of fun to your adventure. While having the kids on my own (without hubby) was lots more work, the amount of time the kids spent with their friends throughout the day made it so much fun for all of us. They were excited to share adventures with others and made some real lasting memories. My friends were more than willing to help me set up my large tent and we shared resources and responsibilities. Between the three families, we seemed to have all the things we needed to make it a success.
2. Plan a camping trip at a park that offers something unique your family can experience. It’s been an adjustment to camp in Florida. The scenery is totally different than what I’m used to in Connecticut which is full of hills and mountains and great hiking trails. But to me, there is something beautiful and unique that each state can offer. Blue Springs State Park in Florida offers this type of opportunity. During the colder months, you can spot and enjoy the really amazing manatees of Florida! In this particular state park, kayaks and canoes are available for rental which allows you to kayak or canoe closer to the manatees (not into the spring). What a cool adventure!
3. Use a checklist to help you pack or to have your kids (if old enough) pack themselves. Now that most of my kids are old enough to start packing themselves, these checklists are our best friend! My two oldest (9 & 7 at the time of this post) were able to use the list to gather most things. I helped them with what they couldn’t find. I also told them to stack it up in their room and show me before putting things in their backpack so I can make sure they had the right things. This helped tremendously! I was then just packing one child (the four-year-old) and the rest of the things! Below is a link to the Camping Checklist I created. Feel free to download it for your use. The best part is I have the checklist saved for future use. If I need a summer version, I will modify the one I have. Note: Mine was very specific with things I know we would use on our trip because I homeschool and our classroom is wherever we go! I will post a more general one in the future.
4. Create a general checklist of things you need to pack for camping by category. Again, this is a life -saver. It’s so easy to leave things behind especially when you have kids. I saved mine for future use in the folder titled “Camping” on my computer for future use. I like to make an extra copy to bring with me. It helps me make sure we don’t leave anything behind (especially when camping with others…things end up everywhere when sharing).
5. Use a Camping Menu Planner and pre-prep as much as possible. This will make your life so much easier! Use it to plan your meals (including snacks) and to create your shopping list. I find that I spend a lot less money when I plan before I head out to the supermarket. Knowing I have everything I need for my meals, have snacks for the kids (and adults) on the go, and even what we need for campfire time (can we say smores!) gives me great peace of mind. You can decide ahead of time what things you need to pre-prep to make your meal times smoother. Seasoning meats at home not only increases the chances of preserving them, but it will also save you time and space (think…less packing of spices). My friend pre-prepped amazing breakfast burritos for all of us (thank you Brooke!) and even pre-prepped her shishkabobs.
6. Don’t guess, call the park ahead with questions! Sometimes making a phone call seems like hard work but it can save you a ton of time and frustration. Does the campsite have a table? (some don’t) Does the campsite have an electrical outlet? (some do) Do they sell firewood? What’s the cost? Do they allow you to bring your own? What is the check-in time? (you might be surprised here) What is the check out time? What’s the cost for canoeing? Do they have any special presentations for kids? What are the times? There are so many questions they can quickly answer if you don’t find them online on their website. I find it’s often much quicker just to call. It helps you plan and budget for your trip.
7. Find out about the local animals you may encounter at the park. Every state has their own and you may want to read up on some tips to keep yourself, children, and valuables safe. There are tips specific to bears, moose, snakes, etc. Do your homework. We kept our food in the car and it kept most animals away. It will also help you decide if there are any other things you need to get or pack for your safety.
8. Talk to your children about how to stay safe at the park and what they can do if they get lost. I like to take a walk with the kids and familiarize them with where to find the Ranger station, bathrooms, and how to find their way back to the site. Have them meet the Rangers on post or the staff at the park (if not a state or national park). Although I don’t let them venture far on their own, I want them to feel calm should anything happen. Even after this trip, I sat them down and talked about what went well and what we could have done differently. It was a great talk and they appreciated the information.
9. Bring a good first aid kit and your basic medications. Here are some of the things I include in mine.
- antibiotic cream
- hydrogen peroxide
- alcohol pads
- kids Tylenol/Ibuprofen
- adult Tylenol/Ibuprofen
- cough medicine
- cortisone cream (for bites)
- calamine lotion
- ear drops
- eye drops
- cough drops
- zinc lozenges
10. Figure out the night time bathroom situation. If the bathrooms are far (usually they are), think of all the times you will have to walk to the bathroom in the middle of the night with your kids. There are plenty of ideas on Pinterest for portable toilets and they can also be bought in local stores. The Camco Standard Portable Travel Toilet, designed for Camping, RV, Boating And Other Recreational Activities found on Amazon is just one of the many options. I figured out the best solution and value for our needs and it was the BEST thing I could have done. It worked great! I encourage you to look at the options available for your family.
There you have it, folks! These are my current top ten tips for camping with kids to make sure you can have fun and be prepared! I know you have many other wonderful camping tips and hacks (not mentioned in this post) that I and our readers can also use. Don’t forget to mention your best camping tip below or write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And don’t forget the most important tip of all…have fun!
Adventuring with you in 2019!
Creator of the Diapursity Blog
If you’d like more information on the things we bring on our park adventure, be sure to read my post:
You’ll be sure to find some ideas for your next adventure! Happy Adventuring!
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