Camping With Kids: 10 Tips You Need to Know
Experience Family Time at its Finest
Nothing brings families together quite like camping. The little chores, beautiful scenes and learning experiences offered by camping allow for shared moments you won’t find in a hotel or self-catering accommodation.
This style of holiday isn’t without its challenges when the kids tag along though. Here’s how to master camping with kids and ensure everyone enjoys a relaxing break.
1. Plan Your Stay Carefully
You might be craving the tranquillity of wide-open spaces in a remote location, but you can rest assured your kids want non-stop action on their holiday.
Save the desert escape for your second honeymoon and rather opt for a campsite with plenty of children’s activities. A swimming pool’s a must for camping with children, but you can also look for destinations that boast specialized kid’s facilities, like:
- A games room
- A playground
- A daily kid’s programme of events
You can gauge how family-friendly a campsite is by reading online reviews. Don’t forget to take housekeeping issues like electricity onsite, water on tap, kitchen facilities, and adequate clean ablutions into consideration.
2. Get Them Involved from the Start
There’s a good chance you might get some blank looks from older children when you announce your upcoming camping expedition.
You can help build excitement and interest by including them in your preparations. Let them add their input when planning meals and activities, packing, and planning their outfits for the trip.
3. Have a Practice Run
A trial run can help alleviate any concerns your kids have vis-à-vis the mysteries of camping! Set up camp in the backyard and spend the night outdoors.
Little ones will love the adventure and it’ll give you a chance to pinpoint any omissions on your packing list.
4. The Toy Dilemma
You’ll find your younger kids want to pack their entire toy box for the trip. Give them each one small bag for their toys and let them pack it to the brim with a selection of favourites.
A ball is one of the best toys to take along camping, as it opens up plenty of opportunities for both individual and group games. A frisbee is always a good option and a great challenge with slightly older kids.
Every child has a favourite stuffed toy or blanket that they can’t survive without – leave it behind at your peril!
5. Dealing with the Drive
One of the most trying things you’ll need to deal with en route to your destination is the age-old question, ‘’Are we there yet?’’. You’ll find plenty of ideas online for compact driving games to keep young minds entertained along the way – use them! They are also never too old to play the “memory game” in some form of another and it’s always fun to make it about the holiday they are about to go on – maybe all the things they packed.
Snacks are one of your biggest allies on a long drive. For your own sake try to stick to the low-sugar variety of you could end up with a serious problem with energy-containment along the way.
Take your time driving to your destination. You’ll need to make frequent stops to deal with the vagaries of young bladders and to let them stretch their legs.
Making the journey a part of the fun helps alleviate the stress of traveling for long distances with children.
6. Baby Camping Essentials
When you think of all the stuff you drag along even on the shortest trip, going camping with a baby or toddler’s a daunting prospect.
Get clever by packing things that can serve double duty. A car-seat/carrier chair doubles as a seat and a cradle to rock them to sleep, and a playpen’s perfect for those waking hours. A baby carrier’s essential for when you need your hands free or want to enjoy a family walk.
Decant the necessary toiletries into travel-size containers and bring only as much as you need. Make sure you choose a campsite close to town if you’re traveling with a baby – it’s better to travel light and stock up halfway through your trip.
7. Dealing with the Bedtime Blues
Your regular routine’s bound to go out the window when you’re camping with children. The best way to ensure an early bedtime is to tire them out.
The natural environment offers plenty of opportunities for expending energy. Keep your kids busy with games, swimming, and long hikes if you want to tire them out.
Leave the technology at home or get devious in your planning and choose a destination with no internet signal if you have social-media-obsessed teens.
8. Be Flexible
While planning’s imperative, anyone who’s had children for any length of time knows that things will go awry.
Allow them to indulge in impromptu activities and free time. Sticking to a regimental routine isn’t fun for anyone.
9. Remember Rainy Days
Summertime’s wonderful for swimming and sunny days but it’s also the rainiest time of the year in most of southern Africa. Bear this in mind when booking your campsite. An undercover area’s a huge bonus at times when raindrops fall.
If you’re traveling during the rainy season, you don’t want to be stuck in a four-man bell tent with nowhere to go when the weather doesn’t play along. You might want to consider booking a self-catering permanent tent instead.
These Meru-style dwellings have a lot more headroom and space to help you deal with unexpected weather events.
Games and cards have stood the test of time when it comes to rainy day camping.
10. Allocate Chores
One of the great joys of camping is working together to keep things going. Get your children involved in setting up camp, cooking simple meals, and washing up afterwards.
They’ll learn valuable life skills, enjoy the time spent doing something constructive together, and give you a chance to put your feet up too.
Are you ready to introduce the entire family to the joys of the great outdoors? Browse our excellent selection of campsites and start planning your perfect family holiday.