My wife and I used to go on camping trips all the time when we first got married. We’d drive up to the Catskill Mountains, just the two of us, and make a great weekend out of it. But then, we had kids. And as anyone with kids can attest to, things become “different” when there are little ones in your life, and traveling can become a hassle, if not downright impossible.
But my wife and I still manage to do a camping trip every once in a while, even with the kids. How do we pull it off without driving ourselves crazy with three young children? Well, before each trip, we make a checklist of things that we need to do ahead of time to make sure everything is in place for a stress-free trip. Here are some tips for making your next family camping trip a successful one:
Make sure that everything is packed for the car ride. The number one mistake parents make when doing a family camping trip is that they don’t prepare for every possibility and downturn! Aside from obvious things like snacks and entertainment for the long car ride, we also pack a car vacuum (you can find some cheap ones here) to clean up any messes they make (and they will make messes), some music that will relax them, a change of clothes in case they get dirty, and blankets and pillows so that they can easily fall asleep.
The kids want to have fun too. It’s funny, but a lot of parents do a family camping trip and forget that the kids actually want to do all the fun stuff too! This includes hunting, fishing, and any and all games that the adults get to play. My son is only 8 years old, but we make sure to take his fishing pole with us – he loves fishing, even at such a young age.
Food is everything. To keep the kids happy, you’ll want to keep them well-fed! So even though my wife and I like to feed our children healthy foods most of the time, we realize that when we’re traveling with them, they like to have stuff that they actually enjoy from time to time. This means allowing them to have candy, and marshmallows, and all kinds of stuff we normally wouldn’t allow. Remember, this is a vacation, so allow them to have fun – and that includes eating things they actually enjoy.
Know when it’s time to go home. For kids, usually the worst part of any vacation is when they have to leave. They’ll throw a fit when you tell them there’s no more camping and fishing, and that they have to get into the car for the ride home. So what we try to do it make it very clear to them ahead of time how many days we’ll be on our trip, and when we have to leave – and we reinforce this message every single day, so that there are no surprises.
So there you have it. Traveling with young children, even to the outdoors, doesn’t always have to be such a hassle if you follow the above tips.