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Family Camping Tips & Tricks

4 min read 0 Comments

Does camping with the family sound scary or daunting? It doesn’t have to be. With the right mindset, equipment, and a few tricks of the trade, camping with loved ones can be a stress-free and downright enjoyable memory-making experience.

From meal-planning delicious and hearty dinners and breakfasts to choosing a spacious, waterproof family camping tent to keep everyone comfy and dry, Life inTents has you covered. Here are some of our best family camping tips and tricks to help your outdoor adventures go smoothly and, more importantly – fun!

family picnic with vista


Image source: Alex Guillaume | Unsplash

Pick Your Campsite

Find a Family-friendly Site

Give time to prepare and plan, setting a date and locking in your campsite.

Recreation.gov is always a great starting point, but because of the tourism boom and increasing reservations that national and state parks have seen lately, finding a campsite can be challenging. If that’s the case, here’s a list of little-known resources to use as alternatives:

  • The Dyrt: Not all campgrounds are created equal, so this reservation site provides reviews and recommendations to help you find the right one for your family.
  • Hipcamp: Campsites on working farms and more, Hipcamp is ideal for family camping trips.
  • Campspot: A handy app with a great list of privately owned and family-friendly campgrounds.
  • Pitchup: With campsites around the globe, this site is a real gem to have in your back pocket.

Arrive Before Dark

Choose a campground or campsite within range so you can leave home and arrive before dark, allowing yourself plenty of time to enjoy the journey but still be able to set up camp and cook dinner in the daylight.

Consider How Primitive You Want to Go

Each family is different, so you must ask the crucial question: how primitive or luxurious is my family? Are they happy to skip the trowel for a compostable toilet? Or do they need the full royal treatment of hot showers? Either way, be honest with yourselves to create a stress-free experience.

family in camping tent with dog

Image:  Jessie Jean Photography

Gear Up

Bring a Long-lasting Cooler

Pick an appropriate cooler to pack enough food to get you through your family camping trip and keep it safely chilled. Or plan an hour or two sightseeing in a nearby town where you restock on provision and ice.

Pack the Camp Furniture

Even if your site has a picnic table, folding camp chairs come in handy. You can transition them from the bonfire to inside the tent if you like. Grab one for each family member. Don’t forget any folding tables or a pop-up kitchen station too.

Find the Best Family Camping Tent

Last but not certainly not least, you’ll need a spacious family camping tent.

When choosing a family-size camping tent, consider how everyone will sleep. On the ground and close to the earth, cowboy style with a sleeping bag? Or on a plush cot set up with all the creature comforts? Maybe it’s a mix of both, offering parents some extra bit of luxury with a double-size mattress while giving the kids free range of the floor. Either way, determine who wants what, as this will help you choose the perfect tent size for the entire family and extra gear.

bell tent size chart

There’s lots of gear we could mention here, but here’s a must-have list of essentials:

  • Lanterns, headlamps/flashlights, and/or solar-powered string lights and stakes
  • Portable outdoor showers and compostable bathrooms
  • Fans or propane heaters to keep your tent cool or warm
  • Stove, fuel, and cookware (more on that below)
  • Sleeping pads, air mattresses, sleeping bags, blankets, and/or linens
  • First-aid kit: sunscreen, bug repellent, and other safety essentials

Make Meal Prep Easy

Think Easy-to-Prepare, Simple Meals

For some, cooking outdoors is a joy. For others, not so much, especially when your campsite is full of rowdy or hangry kids. If you’re in the latter camp, preparing meals at home is a surefire way to make your life a lot easier. Here are some great make-ahead family camp meal ideas for inspiration and some easy grab-and-go snacks.

hot dogs on a stick camping meal

Choose a Durable, Simple Kitchen Setup

Whether you prepare make-ahead meals or cook on-site, you’ll need cookware, plates and utensils. Purchase a propane stove or, if you’re old-school, a Dutch oven to warm meals on the fire. There are also plenty of camp cook sets to choose from at your local outdoor recreation store.

Choose stacking reusable plates, cups, and utensils that you can continue to use on your next family camping trip, securing them neatly in a container. Make sure they’re made of an unbreakable material, like tin or something that can withstand being dropped on rocky ground.

Maintain a Clean Campsite

Make meal cleanups a breeze by bringing your own kitchen cleaning station, along with biodegradable soap, a scrub, and a quick-drying microfiber kitchen towel.

If you want an absolutely minimal cleanup, stick to compostable plates and utensils. But whatever you do, be sure to bring a trash bag/bin and pack everything out to maintain an eco-friendly, clean site and be kind to nature. Have the whole family pitch in with cleanup so you can enjoy a fire or game night.

Plan to Explore and Have Fun

mom hiking in the woods

Image: Juliane Liebermann via Unsplash

Find Activities or Bring Games

Some family-oriented campgrounds offer extra amenities like pools and even arcade game rooms where everyone can cool off and escape a hot summer day. But if you plan to rough it a bit more or need a backup, pack some family-friendly board games, a pack of cards, or even some lawn games like cornhole or ladder toss.

Explore and Live Like the Locals

Enjoy your surroundings and live like the locals. Take a nature hike, spend time at a local watering hole or, if you stay on a farmstead, see if the owners are gracious enough to give a tour of the barn to say hello to the animals there. It’s a wonderful way to entertain the entire family and make lots of great memories.

Ditch the Devices and Unplug

Resist the temptation to bring those distracting tablets and personal entertainment devices. Instead. try to get the kids (and, let’s admit it, adults too!) to unplug and take in the outdoors as much as possible.


EXPLORE OUR FAMILY CAMPING TENTS

 

Brette DeVore
Brette DeVore

As a former hospitality interior designer with an adventurous spirit and love for travel, I now help interior designers and tourism-related businesses in creating online content and media.



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