Surviving the family camping trip requires more than food, water, and shelter. In order to return from the wilderness with your sanity intact, not to mention keep whining to a minimum, you need to keep your little zombies comfortable. The best way to do this is to get organized, and getting organized starts with packing the car.
Ever hear the expression, “you can’t take it all with you”? This applies to family camping as well. Instinct may tell you to pack for any eventuality, but smart and savvy packing will make the trip run smoother in the end. Clothing and toiletries are fine – you need those. But you should take a good hard look at each item that is specific to the camping trip. Is it necessary, and how many functions can it perform? Find items that can do double duty to cut down on clutter. If it only has one purpose, it doesn’t make the cut!
Here are some camping hacks that will inspire you to get creative with camping items!
Camping Made Simple
The first thing you’ll notice after checking out these hacks is that you don’t need to purchase as many camping goods as you thought you did. Don’t lug around floating water beds and sleeping pads for the tent, instead use an inflatable air mattress for both. My personal favorite camping hack is using a hanging shoe organizer to store all of the non-perishable food and kitchen tools. You can roll it up to save space when you’re not using it, and easily keep track of all those small items. All of a sudden, bringing the salt and pepper shakers from home doesn’t seem unreasonable!
Keeping the family hydrated is the most important aspect of a healthy camping trip. In order to save space, pack your cooler with bottles of frozen water. They’ll be used later as drinking water and it also takes care of keeping your first meal at the campsite fresh.
For a fire starter, we advise you to use the homemade version, crafted from dryer lint and wax, and stored in an egg carton. Speaking of campfires, the best type of fires for cooking is the log-cabin style, because it can support cookware. To achieve this type of fire, stack kindling at right angles, overlaying each piece so that it balances on the ones below it. Use the largest pieces on the bottom and the smallest on top. When choosing your location to build the fire, keep in mind nearby objects, but also keep an eye out for low-hanging branches overhead. The Lifestrike fire starter is just a $0.01 and waterproof. Grab it here.
Once you’ve created some much-needed space by cutting down on needless stuff, you can work in some “luxury” camping goods that will add exponential value to your trip. Water shoes, insect repellant candles and clothing, and a durable hammock will all make your family much more comfortable on your trip. A sun shelter is the most expensive item on this list, coming in at around $150. Sun shelters actually straddle the line between luxury and necessity, as they’re designed for comfort. But if you’re camping in an especially hot area they can help your children stay cool during those peak sunny hours. A trek to the river or beach can end up being cut short due to blazing sun. If you’re unsure whether or not you’ll need this item, then refer back to our old double-duty idea. Bring a large golf umbrella, that way you’ll have protection from excessive sun or rain!
These tips serve as a good primer for your first family camping trip, but the best way to come up with new ones is to get out there yourself! Getting your children into the wilderness early on in their childhood is crucial if you want them to love camping because taking surly teenagers camping for the first time isn’t a walk in the park. For more camping tips, check out Amy Whitley’s guide to camping hacks for families!