Are you looking to go camping but don’t know where to even start? Need some tips to get you through your first camping trip?
We are going camping for the FIRST TIME ever as a family next week, so I called in some favors from all my Traveling Friends and put together a Great Big List of Camping Tips. Selfishly, I needed them all for myself, but I am very happy to share them with you!
60 Camping Tips
If you’re new to camping (tenting), try renting some of the equipment from REI, MEC or a camping outlet store, or borrowing from a friend. Getting fully kitted out as a family can add up quickly – build up your gear over time as needed. Claudia Laroye with The Travelling Mom
Go to a dollar store and get those big plastic bins. Have 3…1 for cooking gear, one for kitchen needs–spices, sugar, onions, etc., and one for first aid. Make first aid box a different color. Eric Jay Toll with Examiner.com
A day or two before you load up the car, it’s a good idea to take your tent out of its bag and do a trial set-up. That way you can make sure all parts are there and are in good condition. Make sure you know how to assemble the tent so it won’t collapse in the middle of the night. And if cold conditions are forecast, make sure your tent provides enough protection from wind, rain or snow. Lindsay Shugerman with Catalogs.com
Skip the costly RV toilet paper and by 1 ply. It’s essentially the same thing and won’t clog your toilet which take my word for it, is no fun. Tonya Prater with The Traveling Praters
If you think you have enough water pack more. Dana Zucker with TriWivesClub
Load car so that the things you need to set up first are put in last…then they come out first. Eric Jay Toll with Examiner.com
Pre-pack your gear bins. We have camping bins. One for all cooking related items, one for sleeping gear/headlamps/batteries/etc. They are stored that way in the garage and packed that way when we leave. Simply toss them in the car and most the stuff is packed. Alyssa Erickson from The Kid Project
Before you head out in the RV the first time, do a practice run in your driveway or at a campground near you. This can save some frustration down the road. Tonya Prater with The Traveling Praters
Here is The Ultimate Family Camping Checklist Jessica Averett from Bring the Kids
Remember the flip flops and quarters. We always remember our hiking boots but sometimes forget to pack our flip flops. Most of the camping sites we have been to will have 50 cent showers but you definitely want to make sure you have your own flip flops to wear into the public showers. Mary Heston
Make sure you check the local area for hotels that you have loyalty at to guarantee a room in case of bad weather. Dana Zucker with TriWivesClub
Take lots more clothes than you think you need, especially fleeces…it can feel quite chilly when the sun goes down even in the middle of summer. Nichola West with Globalmouse Travels
Get a 2-room tent!! One for changing and leaving the dirty clothes, muddy shoes, etc. and one room for sleeping! Sara Wellensiek with Mom Endeavors
Use foam floor tiles for a softer, more comfortable tent floor.
Assign everyone a job to do. This especially helps the set up/tear down and meal preparation and won’t leave one person doing it all. Tonya Prater with The Traveling Praters
Bring a Playpen for toddlers. Safety is a major issue for babies and camping. Not only do you have to worry about fires, flora, and fauna, but the parent’s attention seems to be more easily distracted with the business of camp life. A large playpen gives babies a safe place of their own to hang out. Jessica Bowers with Suitcases & Sippycups
Make sure to familiarize yourself with the area’s firewood rules: Where we camped, the state forest service advises that only wood gathered within a 50 mile radius be burned; ours came from bit further away, and even so, we didn’t let it touch the ground, nor could we leave any unburned wood behind. This is to prevent the spread of predatory bugs and plants that can, as we have seen in story after story, devastate forests in a short time. Scotty Reiss with She Buys Cars
Consider packing a Screen house: it’s not only a way to enjoy a bug-free meal, but it’s also a great place to store your chairs and coolers at night. Sheri McDonald with Big Family Travels
Our #1 rule when hiking/camping/anything outdoors is to make sure everyone in our group is educated to “leave no trace.” Leave Mother Nature the way you found her! Teronya Holmes with Christian Traveling Mom
Sleep in a sleeping bag with as few clothes on as possible. You’ll be warmer. Really. Honestly. Try it. Good bags “breathe” and transpire your perspiration out of the bag. Clothes traps it in the bag and the moisture wets clothes and makes you cold. Eric Jay Toll with Examiner.com
Thin foam pads really do make a difference under your sleeping bag. They don’t make the ground turn into a serta sleep perfect mattress but they will keep you dry and warm. Mary Heston
Separate air mattresses or pads – get singles, not queens or kings so everyone keeps their tossings and turnings to themselves. Cots are another good option. Allison Laypath from Tips for Family Trips
Put tomorrow’s underwear and shirts (or all you’ll wear) at bottom of bag. They’ll keep feet warm and be warm in the cool morning air. Eric Jay Toll with Examiner.com
Put toilet paper in a coffee container to keep it dry. Becky Davenport with The Missouri Mom
Always put a tarp or footprint under the tent. Always. Eric Jay Toll with Examiner.com
The mattress from a pack n play folds up small and makes a great sleeping mat for younger kids (applicable for tent camping!) Nicole Wiltrout with ArrowsSentForth.com
After two days camping the toddlers were filthy and the thought of bringing them into the not-so-pristine camping shower with one of us seemed horrific. Thank goodness we bought a two in one camping bin/bathtub. We heated water on the stove while they were roasting marshmallows and they were thrilled with their jacuzzi. Camping would be so much better if they made these in grown-up size. Terumi Johnson with An Emerald City Life
NEVER wear new boots on a camping trip. ALWAYS break in your boots before you go. Mary Heston
Consider ear plugs – Nighttime noises are louder in a tent. A couple of dogs barking at each other in the distance helped keep us awake for hours. Allison Laypath from Tips for Family Trips
Write out all the of the meals you are going to need for your camping trip and write a menu plan for it…however simple or elaborate you want it to be. Add in snacks that your family will be looking for and use this information to create your packing/grocery list. Don’t forget to include the condiments you will need like bbq sauce, ketchup, etc.
Keep it simple. We cooked our dinner on campfire forks I bought for $4 each at Walmart. I packed hot dogs and brats, pineapple chunks, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, and bell pepper strips. We skewered it all and cooked it over the fire. It was delicious! Allison Laypath from Tips for Family Trips
Have the kids help you plan the menu so they’ll be excited about the meals and maybe want to help too. Cooking over a stove or campfire is so much more fun than cooking at home. Debbie Kaplan with Frisco Kids
Mix up pancake better and put it in a gallon ziploc bag then cut the end – makes it easier and cleaner. Becky Davenport with The Missouri Mom
Save dishwater to help drown campfire. Drown, stir, and drown campfires some more. It’s out if you can put your hand over the ashes and not feel anything even slightly warm. Be careful putting hand in ashes…make sure you stir them well and don’t feel any surface warmth. Eric Jay Toll with Examiner.com
One of our favorite camping meals is the breakfast burrito. I make the burritos ahead of time with eggs, spinach, cheese and all our other favorite ingredients. Then I wrap in tin foil and freeze. Throw them in the cooler with ice and cook on the campfire each morning. Jennifer Close with Two Kids & a Map
If the thought of preparing food while camping stresses you out, do most of the prep work, cutting, and even cooking at home. Just pull it out and warm it up over the fire. Also, with little kids, it’s important to have some quick, healthy snacks ready to go since camping food often takes longer to cook and little bellies can’t always wait happily. Jessica Bowers with Suitcases & Sippycups
Freeze gallon jugs of water and place them in your cooler.
I hollowed out oranges and filled them with gluten free brownie mix, then wrapped them in foil and threw them in the campfire. Seriously the best brownies EVER. I didn’t invent it though, saw it on Pinterest! I totally can vouch for it. Evin Cooper with Food Good Laundry Bad
Before you go; marinate your own meat for fajitas in ziplocs, then pullingthem out of ice chest and putting them on grill is so easy. And have your onions and peppers and maybe mushrooms already cut for kabobs in a bag and then have kids load them on sticks before you grill. Leah Smith with Texas Kids Kitchen
Save yourself time & money by packing small containers of condiments made up from the bigger sizes you already have in your fridge. This saves you from having to buy small sizes of condiments…saving you money. The smaller sized containers from home also fit into a cooler better. I like these little Tupperware containers.
To clean your coated cast iron skillet, bring along a box of coarse ground kosher salt (and a scouring pad). Add enough salt to coat the bottom of the pan, then use a scrubbie to break up cooked on bits. The salt will soak up extra grease and flavors left behind too. Discard “dirty” salt in the garbage and apply a thin layer of oil (I use coconut oil that I bring camping with us.) to the pan and work it in using a paper towel. Your pan should look like new, and be ready to use for your next meal. Store the pan upside down on your picnic table (or camp kitchen table) to prevent bugs from sticking to the freshly oiled surface. Julie Henning with Wisconsin Parent
Cook cinnabuns (the canned kind) in a hollowed-out orange over a campfire.
I can not wait to try these S’morecones from Jessica Bowers with Suitcases & Sippycups
Use a Milk Jug and Head lamp to light your campground. Becky Davenport with The Missouri Mom
Put a battery-powered votive candle into an empty peanut butter container to make portable lanterns.
Get small flashlights and attach to stretchy bracelets or lanyards for the kids. Leah Smith with Texas Kids Kitchen
Mountain Dew + baking soda + peroxide = lantern
Leave electronics at home, and bring lots of outdoor things to do – frisbees, balls, buckets, shovels, bug catchers…and playing cards too. Debbie Kaplan with Frisco Kids
Ask for the Junior Ranger backpack if you’re at a state park. It contains a book about animal tracks and kid-sized binoculars and a compass. My 7-year-old son went off with the compass and binoculars for a whole afternoon. But the best thing in it: drawing paper and crayons. Because even though you imagine your kids enraptured by the wonders of nature, there are times they just need something to do. The drawing saved us when it was time to pack/unpack the food or make the fire to cook the food. Virginia Woodruff from Great Moments in Parenting
Bring cards and a board game for rainy days. Eric Jay Toll with Examiner.com
Make friends with your neighbors. You will most likely be those people, the ones with kids that are loud and up early. Slightly disruptive to the peaceful camping ambiance. I find it is better to be upfront, introduce yourself, and give them an open door to come “complain” if your kids are bothering them. Alyssa Erickson from The Kid Project
Here’s a fun Outdoor Tic Tac Toe Game from Jamie Dorobeck from C.R.A.F.T.
Keep the kids busy with a scavenger hunt.
Always book an extra night. We had so much fun camping at Yosemite we went in the lotto the next day to stay another night. Fresh air, camp fires, silence… Everyone needs more of that. Erin Bender with Travel with Bender
Tell kids that if they ever get lost to STAY PUT! Don’t go wandering off any further. Someone will come to them to find them. Teronya Holmes with Christian Traveling Mom
An actual physical barrier built around a campfire, such as a circle of large rocks or even a fence, serves as a reminder that the fire is present. Just don’t completely rely on the obstruction you create though. Proper supervision and teaching about fire safety is still very necessary! Kate Spiller with Wild Tales Of
If you are camping in an area with wood ticks (deer ticks), make sure to have tweezers and antibiotic ointment. Julie Henning with Wisconsin Parent
Familiarize yourself with what the poisonous plants look like.
At night, secure all food and food trash in sealed metal cans, in your car or in a bear bag high up in a tree. That way, wild animals won’t be tempted into your campsite. And never ever keep food in your tent … that midnight snack can easily become deadly bear bait. Lindsay Shugerman with Catalogs.com
Bring citrus oil to pour down ant holes and to mark out a fire line around our tent site. Virginia Woodruff from Great Moments in Parenting
We Are thrilled to be camping this upcoming week in a 2014 Jayco Redhawk, which was provided to us by Woody RV Rentals. If you live in the Central Texas area and are wanting to dip your tow into the camping world, renting an RV through Woody RV Rentals is the way to go.
Virginia Woodruff says
What a great list Rebecca… Printing!
Becky Davenport says
These are AWESOME tips – sharing this with the campground that I work with! Thanks!
Skye @ Planet Jinxatron says
GREAT list! Stumbled and Pinned.
Amanda Her says
Pinning this one for future travel! That’s a great list of expert suggestions!!!
Suki F says
Those are a lot of tips! I’m sure I’ll be able to use any of them next month. Thanks for sharing.