Family Camping Checklist: Top Tips for Enjoying the Great Outdoors

by Laura Wallis | Follow Her on Twitter Here

family camping checklistCamping is one of the best vacations for kids…you, the kids, nature. What could go wrong? Well plenty if you’re not prepared! But don’t worry! We have a tent full of easy tips with this family camping checklist for making your trip smooth and fun!

Camping Packing Tips

The Scout Motto is “Be Prepared” for a reason. Those smart Scouting campers know that if you are not prepared your trip will go downhill — fast. Here are some of my tried and true camping tips.

1. Pack twice as many clothes (especially socks!) as you think you are going to need. If you’re near a lake or stream, water shoes are pretty cool.

[easyazon-image align=”right” asin=”B005LC6S7Q” locale=”us” height=”98″ src=”” width=”160″]2. Ditto with the plastic bags, paper towels and s ‘mores fixings. You are never sad to have to pack all that back home.

3. Things you might not have thought of that you will be glad you have:

  • [easyazon-image align=”right” asin=”B0009PUQU0″ locale=”us” height=”160″ src=”” width=”136″] Tablecloth and clamps
  • Paper plates (you can be eco-friendly at home. You will be SO happy not to be scrubbing plates in a makeshift camp sink.)
  •  Foil
  • Mat to put in front of your tent to help keep the dirt factor out.
  • Toilet paper. Yes you will be glad you have it.
  •  Boxed wine (you don’t want to chance running out, now do you, and bottles are clunky and hard to pack in and out)

4. Prep as much of the food as you can.

  • [easyazon-image align=”right” asin=”B00062B2W2″ locale=”us” height=”160″ src=”” width=”160″]Are you serving tacos? Brown the meat at home and put it in a zip top bag so you just have to heat it up. Grate the cheese and chop the tomatoes.
  • Ditto the pasta for spaghetti. It just cooks so much easier at home and then you can just warm it up on the fire.
  • Marinate your chicken and then you just have to grill it.
  • Form the hamburger patties so you don’t have to worry about handling raw meat at the camp site.
  • Freeze everything you can, such as bread, lunch meat, cookies, juice, etc. It will keep other things in the cooler cold as it thaws and be ready for us when you are!

5. Put each person’s pajamas in their pillow case. You don’t want to be searching around a cold, dark tent for them.

At the Camp Site

[easyazon-image align=”right” asin=”B000IXAJVY” locale=”us” height=”160″ src=”” width=”124″]1. Establish some site rules, such as:

  • No running in the site.
  •  No one but an adult touches the fire.
  •  Buddy rule. Always.

2. Make a hand washing station somewhere in the site.

Bring a 2-gallon bottle of water, the kind with the spigot on it. Put hand soap and a towel next to it and a bucket underneath it. Campers just have to pull the spigot slightly enough to get some water and voila! Clean hands.

[easyazon-image align=”right” asin=”B001ASH9QY” locale=”us” height=”89″ src=”” width=”160″]3. Keep shoes out of the tent. You will thank me for this.

4. Set up all nighttime stuff before it gets dark. When you’re camping, the dark will creep up on you. Well before you think it’s time for the sun to go down, make sure everyone’s sleeping bag is laid out, pjs are accessible, toothbrushes are ready and flashlights have been found.

5. Keep ’em busy! Have them go on a scavenger hunt to look for a certain type of leaf or color of rock. Play cards. Bust out that chapter book. Take advantage of the lack of electricity and Wi-Fi to do all those family things you don’t do when someone is inevitably plugged in.

[easyazon-image align=”right” asin=”B00112CHCK” locale=”us” height=”160″ src=”” width=”142″]6. Follow whatever rules the camp ground makes regarding food and bears or raccoons. If signs tell you to put it in the car, do it. They aren’t kidding!

7. Make s’mores. Every. Single. Night.

8. Sit around the fire, sing some songs…play some games. Some of our favorites that lend themselves to a campfire setting are Apples to Apples, Questions and a silly camp-themed Mad lib.

Packing Up

[easyazon-image align=”right” asin=”B004XAF9G8″ locale=”us” height=”151″ src=”” width=”160″]Well your camping trip has come to an end. Sadness. Here are some ways to make heading home as easy as possible.

1. Stick your dirty dishes in a plastic garbage bag. They are SO Much easier to wash at home.

2. Ditto your clothes. Probably everything will inevitably smell like a campfire, but try to separate clean from dirty so you aren’t washing things you don’t need to.

[easyazon-image align=”right” asin=”0843122390″ locale=”us” height=”160″ src=”” width=”101″]3. Put everyone on campsite patrol. Make sure EVERY piece of trash is picked up. You know the rule: leave no trace.

4. Keep the kids busy while you pack the car. Bring out a sketch pad and crayons or colored pencils and have each of them draw a picture of the campsite. Not only will it keep them from underfoot as you try to figure out how everything fit in the car in the first place, it is a wonderful keepsake of a fun family camping fun!

In the comments below, would love to have you add on any of your own tips to this family camping checklist! And don’t forget to bookmark this post for easy reference.


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