Tips for Camping with Kids for the First Time

What do you think – would you take your young kids tent camping? We took our first major tent camping adventure when our kids were 2 and 5 years old. Admittedly, Alex thought we were nuts for planning a week-long camping adventure in bear country Yellowstone with toddlers. Read all about that adventure here.

Tips for tent camping with kids
Tips for camping with kids

It may seem a bit premature with kids so young, but that assumption is wrong – at least for us. That adventure was incredible for all of us, and left an indelible mark on our children. Now, several years later, they beg to go camping and get eagerly excited for the Spring thaw so we can plan our camping adventures for the summer. If you are considering camping with young kids, here are some tried and true tips to make it a positive experience:

⛺️ Make sure you have secured a campground reservation in advance  (don’t wing it!) they can fill up fast— it sounds like a silly recommendation, but trust us, having reservations or a solid plan to snag a camping spot the minute the campground releases them in the early AM is often crucial.

⛺️ Do a trial run overnight in your backyard or close to home to test out all of your camping gear and help the kids get accustomed to sleeping in a sleeping bag and tent.

camp in backyard first
Test run — sleeping in tents in the backyard.

⛺️ Air mattresses! We never used these camping when we were kids, but now I can’t imagine camping without them. Seriously- makes all the difference!

⛺️ Be weather aware. Sometimes you need a winter grade sleeping bag in the summer. If you travel to Yellowstone or other high elevation locations it gets surprisingly cold 🥶 at night— be prepared. 

⛺️ Familiar toys— bring a comfort from home for bedtime routine. Familiar books for story time, a favorite stuffy and their bed pillows help kids feel calm and settled sleeping in a new environment. 

⛺️ Pack more clothes than you think you’ll need. Kids find a way to go through all of them.

⛺️ Have ample bug spray, itching cream and a first aid kit on hand— nothing ruins a good camping trip faster than mosquitos.

⛺️ Bring a starter log or fire starters (lint from the dryer stuffed into toilet paper tubes works really well!)— nothing can dampen camping fun faster than not being able to start a campfire due to damp wood. 🔥 

Campfires and smores are kind of the best!

⛺️ Smores— the best part of camping for many kids 🔥 

⛺️ LOOK UP! The night sky can be mind blowing when out in nature, especially at many national parks. You can find the best places to view the night sky by searching International Dark Sky Parks. There are many in the U.S. Southwest.

Milky way and night sky
This is at Dead Horse Point State Park in Utah near Canyonlands National Park

2 thoughts on “Tips for Camping with Kids for the First Time

  1. Sharon! This is wonderful to see your passions, expertise and writing all in one! Will you have a travel book as well?

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