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Tips for Low-Stress Camping with Kids

By Lana T. Figgs

Regardless of where youíre going or the length of your trip, camping with kids can be a harried experience. But donít get so overwhelmed by the thought, that you cancel your trip before you even start packing. The secret is planning ahead.

Here are some tips for Low-Stress Camping with Kids:

-Compactly fold outfits together; including socks, undies, and even a matching hairband/scrunchie for girls. Donít forget PullUps, if necessary. You can pack one small tote bag per child or one large upright bag for all the kids.

-Have separate sets of shoes for each child: pool shoes (for pool ONLY), sandals (preferably covered-toe), and sneakers.

-Remember to pack any comfort toys.

-Travel size toothbrushes (Tip: write the kid's names on them!) take up less space and come with their own case. Travel size toiletries are also much more convenient for the bathhouse. To make it easier, you can also keep your kidsí toiletries in a Ziploc bag, separate from yours

-Disposable washcloths are great for kids. Donít forget the detangler for messy pool-hair.

-Remember prescriptions: itch-cream, Benadryl, Motrin, etc. These can be put into a Ziploc bag too.

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-Plan your meals before you go (e.g., hot dogs, burgers, BBQíd chicken, taco pie). Donít forget to bring the condiments and basics; PB & J, salt and pepper, cheese, milk. Will you use propane or charcoal? Will you bring a cooler? Will you cook breakfast or do cereal bars and yogurt? You donít want to have to buy a lot at the campground store, because it's more expensive.

-Money for laundry and arcade (if you have older kids).

-A pump for bike tires and pool floats.

-SPF, swimmies, swim diapers, towels, and other pool items.

-Waterproof bed pad, plenty of diapers, wipes, bottles, and formula; if baby is coming along.

-A bag of activities for the long drive ahead (e.g., Game Boy, CD player, books, crayons and paper).

-Remember your pillows!

This may sound like a lot, but donít fret. Start a list for your camping trip at least a few weeks before you go, and start purchasing items you donít have, such as travel-size items or extra paper goods. You can also start a ďcamping pileĒ (away from the front door, of course), where you start putting pool towels, sleeping bags, linens, etc. You can start packing clothes a couple days before your trip.

As kids get older (11+), they will usually want their own bag and to assist with their packing.

Be sure to find out ahead of time where the closest medical center, markets, and pharmacy are.

Before leaving, also remember to arrange to have your plants/garden, mail delivery, pets, etc., to be cared for. Using these helpful tips will make your trip much less stressful, so you can enjoy your trip and all the memories youíll be creating together.

© Lana T. Figgs
Lana T. Figgs is a graduate of The Institute of Childrenís Literature. She lives on the Eastern Shore of Maryland with her husband and their three daughters.


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