A few weekends ago, my husband and I decided to do something insane and go camping… with all four of our children. Now, all of children are 5 and under, so we knew it was going to be an adventure. I am more of a “camp in a hotel” type, so tent camping already isn’t my thing. However, doing this with all of our kids helped me put together this list of tips for camping with toddlers, that I wanted to share with you.

Planning a camping trip with kids? Learn some essentials tips for camping with toddlers from a mom of four who has been there. First tip, don’t do it… 

…just kidding;) 

Tips For Camping With Toddlers

  1. Be prepared for anything. You never know what you are going to get when camping. It could be super hot during the day where you have to pile on the sunscreen and the bug spray, and then freezing and night to the point where you need to sleep in your car instead of the tent. Having all of the essentials when you are camping with little ones is crucial, because they depend on you to take care of them during these drastic changes that living outdoors for a few days can bring.
  2. Have activities. The one thing that I didn’t do was bring a lot of things for our almost 2YO twins to do. They needed something to keep them occupied aside from eating rocks, running into other campsites, and trying to get lost in the woods. Things like chalk, coloring books, or a little mini tent would have been great for them! They spent an hour zipped up in our tent absolutely destroying it loving life as they jumped on all of the air mattresses. We needed some other things for them to do without a doubt. If you toddlers aren’t quite into the climbing stage, bring a pack-n-play for them! This will be a lifesaver. My twins climb out of everything, so that was  a no-go for us. 
  3. Realize that they won’t be on their normal schedule. I tried really hard to put my kids down for a nap at their normal time, and to bed at their normal time. However, with the sun beaming into the tent, the noises of our campground and everyone around us, and the new environment that they were in, our twins had a hard time staying on their schedule. Our twin boy wanted to wake up at 4 am every single day, thinking that it was time to get up and play. You might have to lay with them for a while to get them to sleep, and their sleep at night might be a little bit rocky. As a parent, realizing this ahead of time and planning for it is a huge tip for camping with toddlers and for remaining sane.
  4. Practice camping ahead of time. By this, I mean pitch a tent in your backyard and sleep out there with all of the kids one night. Get to know what it will be like sleeping with them, set up a sleeping arrangement that works for you, and sleep out there all night just like you would camping. This will help you know the ropes a little when camping for real, without the luxury of being able to walk inside to your beds. I wish we would have done this! When we got to our camping site, figuring out how all six of us would fit into one tent the best way would have been so much easier if we would have done this at home first!
  5. Snacks are a must. Camping is pretty much about wandering around, hiking, sleeping, and eating. Snacks that your kids can carry around easily with them, that won’t attract too many insects or dirt (nothing super sticky or sweet) are the best way to go. We packed a variety of crackers, dry snacks, and some fruit for them to munch on. If you can find those snack pouches in the baby aisle (that don’t have a tainted name because of mold), those are awesome to have with you! 

Have you ever gone camping with little ones? What tips for camping with toddlers would you add to this list?

*Cheers to being home and sleeping in our own beds

joanna at motherhood and merlot