I love tent camping. Growing up in the Pacific Northwest surrounded by beauty, I had access to thousands of scenic places to camp (on and off the beaten path). Thankfully, my Indian (born and raised) husband loves it too. I introduced tent camping to him on his first few days in America – I had planned a camping trip for his first week in the US. We had a blast and have been camping nearly every year since. My oldest daughter was born in February and we went camping the following May when she was about 15 months old. She loved it! Friends of ours go every year even with infants. My youngest daughter just turned 1 and we’re all going camping next month.
Here are some simple tips from our experience to help you prepare, make the trip as smooth as possible, and save you some money.
Camp with little ones!
First, I want to encourage you to camp with your little ones. Toddlers and small children LOVE being outdoors. There is so much for them to see, do and explore – it’s good for their brain, health, and development. Our oldest daughter has an absolute blast every time we go. We can’t wait to introduce our youngest daughter to tent camping soon.
Make a list of supplies
We have a big Sterilite container in storage that holds nearly all of our camping supplies. I put a list of the contents on the outside of the container, that way I can see at a quick glance what is inside and can make a new list of things I need to include or purchase. Then, when we’re packing, we just load the whole container in the trunk of our car.
Pack extra (clothes, snacks, diapers)
We always make sure to pack enough snacks (my daughter loves pistachios!) and a few toys (mainly for the car ride). Once we get to the campground, she loses interest in the toys and can’t wait to explore nature.
Pack enough clothes to have several extra layers. This is especially helpful for us in the Pacific Northwest where the weather can turn quite cold at night or can change rather dramatically from day-to-day. Extra clothes are also helpful when our daughter gets dirty or wet (which is pretty much every hour). (If you practice Elimination Communication, you can save some diapers. See my post about this here.) Don’t be afraid to wash and hang dry some clothes. We’ve washed clothes (even underwear) before and let it dry on a log.
Make a meal plan!
We usually camp for 2-3 days and always plan out our meals for each day before we leave (plus extra snacks). Not only does this help us save money (from eating out or buying too much), but it relieves us from the burden of having to decide what to cook and when. Easy!
If you love camping and being outdoors, I highly encourage you to take your little children camping. Keep it simple, go for one night, and don’t be afraid to get dirty. Follow these simple tips, make a plan and have fun. It’s a fantastic experience and will give your children many fun memories.
I’d love to hear your tips for camping (or traveling) with a toddler and keeping your sanity!