It shouldn’t be a big surprise that we have a whole lot of trips planned this summer, none of which involve staying in a swanky resort or hotel room, private beaches or lakeside villas. Rather, we have over 30 days planned of being in the woods – most times without cell phone service and miles from the nearest towns. Although we are teetering on the verge of “glamping” with our new camper, there are still quite a few tricks of the trade when it comes to camping with kids.
For anyone taking to the wilderness with littles this summer, whether you’re staying in a tent, cabin, camper or RV, here are a few things we’ve found useful in our travels.
- Prepare for the car ride by packing anything and everything you think you might potentially need and keeping it easily accessible from your seat in the vehicle. We have found that keeping a joint toy bin between the kids’ seats in the back of the truck works wonders and gives them plenty of options of things to play with, read, and color. This summer, we bought Marleigh a wipe-clean workbook to take on our longer rides, and we got each of the kids their own backpack with a few special things they don’t need to share with one another. We pack them with lightweight blankets for car naps, small containers for mess-free snacks, books, coloring books, and water bottles.
- Give in to technology for the really long road trips! I am not a huge fan of driving down the road and seeing mini vans with DVDs playing when people are bumming around town with their kids, but on long road trips, letting the kids watch movies in the car has been a life saver. We originally purchased a car DVD player with dual screens, but after a lot of annoyance with the DVDs skipping on bumpy roads, we found a great iPad holder that connects to the back of the headrests of the front seats! It has worked great so far this summer, and I can appreciate not having to be constantly pushing play/pause and skipping through scenes when the roads get rocky.
- Great expectations are usually not great to set for any trip involving kids. I’ve gone into many-a-weekends expecting roses, butterflies, and picture-perfect moments only to be greeted by grumpy kids, dirty faces, and mosquitos. Setting expectations low, or at least expecting a few bumps in the road, is key to enjoying a weekend (or longer) away. Keep in mind that while you’re looking forward to a relaxing retreat, camping (or any vacation, for that matter) is just another thing to throw your kids off whack with their normal routines. It might take a while for them to adjust, so when they’re working on it, think of things to help them get acclimated to their new surroundings!
- Buy the freaking play yard even though it’s a bit on the pricier side and looks atrocious on the camp site. I give 100% of the credit for this idea to my mom, who purchased the initial play yard (and then we bought the connecting/extender set to make it even bigger the next weekend). This is one of the very first things we set up after rolling into the campground and it has been a total life saver so far this summer! I can’t recommend it enough for families who need a little bit of R&R after chasing after a crazy-busy toddler all day long. Fill it up with toys, and you’re good to go!
- Speaking of toys… buy some new playthings and don’t show them to your kids until you’re in desperate need (i.e. during witching hour, when said toddler is tired of being contained in said play yard, when you’re trying to cook dinner, etc.). Opening up a new toy is a great way to keep them from being bored and let them take their mind and energy off of something other than wanting to run at warp-speed dangerously close to the bonfire! Some of our favorites to bring on our trips are a lawn bowling set, basketball hoop with ball, bubbles, and the classic velcro-mitt with tennis ball.
- When in doubt, take a walk around the campground or head to the campground playground if you’re so lucky to have one where you’re staying. Some of our best camping moments happen when we’re on our family walks. It’s fun to see the kids get excited about their surroundings and discover more of the world around them.
What are your best tips for traveling with kids? If you’re hitting the road any time soon this summer, I’d love to hear of your plans!
Special thanks to BabyCubby.com for providing us with a gift card to purchase some of our favorite travel essentials!