Camping solo or with adults can be very exciting. All you need is a light backpack and essential camping gear and you’re good to go. However, things can be a little different when you bring children into the picture. Playing outdoors and interacting with nature in its raw form has tons of benefits for children, but there are certain things you should be careful about when camping with them.
Whether you have a toddler or pre-teens, with a little bit of planning and preparation you can have a great family camping trip. Here are a few points you should keep in mind to ensure a safe and fun-filled trip:
1- Set realistic expectations
While this may seem obvious, but always check whether the camping site you have chosen allows children. Not all of them do, so make sure you read the fine print before finalizing a campsite. We recommend you to scale your adventure according to the age of your kids. As much as you want to introduce your children to the wonders of high-country wilderness, the key is to start them small.
While you may peak-bagging and challenging alpine hikes as an adult, your kids won’t be able to handle the wilderness as much as you.
Plus, if you have little kids who are not toilet trained, keep some disposable nappies and sealable trash bags on hand. Consider how do you plan to move around on site with children. Is your toddler used to traveling in a buggy or pushchair? Will the kids be able to walk around the distance you plan to hike? If not, we suggest you carry them around in an ergo baby carrier instead.
If you have pre-teens who tend to get excited and rush ahead alone, teach them more about how they can protect themselves from getting lost in the woods. Make sure they keep an eye on their surroundings at all times, identifying landmarks and the importance of staying on the trial. Prepare them for similar situations and how to react if they do get lost. Teach them to stay calm and put, while sending a loud signal for help. Give them their own backpack that is equipped with a flashlight, a whistle and some food and water.
2- Get them vaccinated
The outdoors can be exciting yet scary, especially when you have a tiny human being in tow. Vaccinating your child can help protect them against many diseases and conditions- especially while camping. Always consult your doctor to see if your child’s vaccine status is up to date before you plan a camping trip. A doctor may recommend tetanus, pertussis (or whooping cough), meningitis, and/or hepatitis A, depending on your child’s age, medical history, and other factors.
Even if your child is completely vaccinated, always keep insect repellants and a lightweight bug netting that can be mounted over a travel crib or baby seat.
3- Keep plenty of drinking water and healthy snacks
There is nothing more threatening than a hungry child on a camping trip! We recommend you to keep ample healthy snacks and some not so healthy ones like candy and jelly beans (for toddler-emergency situations).
Make sure to pack food in tight and waterproof bags or container. Keep them in an insulated cooler so that they don’t spoil. Keep a hand sanitizer with you at all times so you can wipe your hands and surfaces clean, even if there is no water available.
Take enough bottled water with you so that it lasts you for the whole trip. In case of emergencies, always boil water before drinking or better yet, keep a portable water filter with you.
Eating contaminated food or drinking contaminated water can be risky and may act as a cause for many infectious diseases, so make sure you are well prepared before embarking on your camping trip.
4- Essential camping gear
You can’t brave the great outdoors with your kids unless you are armed with the perfect camping gear. Invest in a good quality tent that will keep the whole family warm and cozy. It can also act the perfect place to nurse your infant in peace. If you’re car camping, pack some heavy artillery like a lightweight screened room that is big enough to protect a picnic table.
Other must-haves include a pair of sturdy children camping pants and a baby bug suit or a rain suit which will keep your child prepared to enjoy in all kinds of weather conditions. You can also keep a compact hammock for daytime naps outside the confines of your tent. Many parents also swear by the IKEA high chair, as it is portable and makes meal times less fussy.
Take plenty of things to keep the children occupied. This may include a selection of their favorite toys, books, art material and so on. If you take some powered devices along, make sure to keep spare batteries or external means to recharge them. Remember, even if they are a fan of outdoors they will need something to do during rainy days or late evenings.
For more information, refer to this list of essentials while camping with children.
5- Keep it simple and enjoy yourself
The list of preparations and precautions can be never-ending, especially when you think about various situations that can arise at the last minute. Don’t try to anticipate every eventuality if you want to maintain your sanity. There will be times when you will undoubtedly forget something and will have to improvise. A child will skin a knee and the baby will miss a few naps. But remember, this is not the usual routine.
Try not to set a very hectic plan for the trip. You definitely need extra chill time when you’re looking after children too. Identify the challenges you will have to face and set turns to deal with them. Night calls for milk, wet sleeping bags and tantrums over lost toys-these are only a few situations you’ll have to deal with.
Within these few days, you will surmount unexpected challenges, but when you’re back in the comfort of your home, those will be the moments you’ll remember most fondly.
Remember it’s about you too, so relax and don’t take everything too seriously.
Do you have any top tips for taking children camping? What are the things to be careful about when taking children on a camping trip? Do you ban electrical devices and screens on camping trips? Share your experiences with us in the comments below:
Judy Robinson is a passionate health and lifestyle blogger. She loves to write on healthy lifestyle, fitness 101 and DIY related topics. Currently, she is associated with White Duck Outdoors, an online camping tent shop that offers top quality bell tents, canvas tents, outfitters tents and other outdoor camping gears. Follow @judyrobinson for more updates.