Best Tips for Camping with Toddlers + Teens + Infants 2020

Everyone thinks that as children get older, the job becomes easier. This isn’t true for camping (not for the first few years, anyway).
Start making long trips in the car before this age!

Bring lots of books! Hardcover books don’t travel well; I suggest those cardboard books. Beware! As my husband and I used books to coax my son across the country, he is now a book fiend. We have to read 20 books (or one book 20 times : ) a day)!

Best Tips for Camping with Toddlers

Our son was 1 his first year we camped( he is 8 now)and we brought stories on tape cassettes and cassettes of mommy and daddy singing the ABC song, twinkle twinkle little star lots of his favorites. He sat in his car seat listening as the tape played over and over while we set up the tent. He loved it. we did the same thing a week later when we broke camp.

When my family goes camping we bring along our portable crib (a Pack ‘N Play). We recently purchased an Astro Van (yes it’s big but we don’t have to literally pack the kids into the back seat anymore) and the Pack’N Play fits perfectly in the cargo area (without the back seat). My son is 2 so we’re hoping to have him in a regular bed sometime this fall, but for now, he sleeps great in his portable crib.

top tips for camping with toddlers

When it’s our bedtime we just take him out gently, hold him close and put him in the tent. This method worked great for naps, too. We park the van in the shade, open it up for the breeze and let him sleep away.

Put your car seat in the rear of the car (of course!) and leave the seat next to it empty. We actually packed the passenger seat to the roof. The days of traveling at your partner’s side are over! I found that in a traffic emergency, I could breastfeed my son in his car seat.

I ended up very lopsided, but it was worth it!
Sing, sing, sing!!!! Anything redundant. Old McDonald, The Itsy Bitsy Spider, The ABC’s… anything! (When my son was almost two he could recite the ABC’s. Maybe we travel too much!)

Camping with Infants and Toddlers:

We started out with short trips when my first son was three months old. Our first trip was for three nights. My second son went camping at seven weeks.

If your child is not in good health or you feel uncomfortable with camping with an infant – don’t do it!

The following tips are things we tried and tested and seemed to make the whole camping experience more straightforward.

  • Use a bassinet at home! I found no easier way to keep my baby close without sharing my bed all the time. When we took my son camping, he seemed very concerned at first. As the sun went down and we didn’t retire to the house, our boy became upset. I carried the baby into the tent and put him in his bed with all of the usual bedding. Blake smiled, closed his eyes, and went to sleep.
  • Leave home at your babies’ normal nap time. We found a nap could last several hours during uninterrupted highway driving, and this didn’t seem to affect his night-time sleep.
  • Be prepared to get up at dawn. No matter how late we put our son to bed, he always gets up at sunrise when we camp.
  • I made my son’s food after reading how many chemicals can be found in baby food- except when camping. Disposable diapers aren’t environmentally sound, but as long as you throw them into a trash can- you’re doing fine!
  • Take the baby out at every stop possible! We used to let our son sleep through gas stops. He figured it out and started waking up any time the car even slowed down!
  • You can’t have too many diapers or wet wipes. We ran out of diapers out in the boonies at a national monument in New Mexico and ended up stuffing our baby’s pants with napkins on the last two miles of a hike! If you haven’t already discovered how handy having wipes can be, you’ll find out on a camping trip!
  • Have Mommy and Daddy use big comforters or blankets for themselves because a noisy or restless sleeping bag can make anyone of any age wake up. The hum of a battery-powered fan or generator
  • imitates the sound of a car (when our little one sleeps the best) Other ideas: Let the little ones age six mos.- 3 years sit in their stroller around the campfire. It lets them be a part of things and also keeps them safe and in a familiar environment.

Camping with Kids nine through twelve:

Camping with Kids nine through twelve

We have a big cloth laundry bag we take along on all camping trips. In the bag, we pack ball gloves, baseball/softball, bat, frisbee, tennis rackets and balls, soccer ball, hockey sacks, etc. Any sporting equipment your family might enjoy. This really saves the day for us.

We also pack a couple of blow-up beach balls. This gives the kids something to throw around in a swimming pool or even at a campsite.

Provided by The Morelock Family

We love to take our small rubber raft whenever we can. It packs very small but provides big entertainment. Be sure to buy a low-pressure blower that plugs into the car cigarette lighter, and save your breath. Those rafts are bigger than they look. And get some decent life jackets for everyone.

Provided by Rudy Van Pelt

Camping with Teens:

Let your teens bring books, walkmans, etc. When they want to be left alone, they have something better to do than picking on a sibling or getting in trouble. 

Provided by The Nicholas Family

Camping with Teens

To keep my teens from getting “bored” on the long ride, I have taught them how to be navigators. They read the map before we go so they will know which routes we are taking and what they would like to see along the way.

Each takes a turn riding upfront in the motorhome and telling me where

we are. No more “Are We There Yet?”

When planning our vacations, I let each person pick a day that we will do something they want to do. This includes me as well. Each of them also gets to choose a dinner meal of their choice and then fix it. Somehow when they get to use the BBQ the meals always taste better.

We bring along a few tapes of old radio shows like “The Shadow” and listen to them when we are sitting around the campfire.

I make sure on each one of these camp trips we stay a few days at campgrounds where there is swimming available. Not only do they keep busy and are having fun with other kids, but I get to lay on a blanket and read!

Last four great suggestions provided by Robert Boone