Hacks for Camping with Kids

With summer in full swing, two camping trips under our belt (and hopefully a couple more to come!), we thought we would share some of our favourite hacks for when we camp with our kids.

Packing hacks:

  • Mid/Large Tupperware: We usually store our camping essentials, plates, foil, utensils, camp soap, dish cloths etc in a fairly large (but not deep tupperware) year round. When we get back from a trip, we replace what we’ve used and then it’s just a matter of throwing it in the car when it’s time to go!

  • Mid/Large Tupperware: We store our dry goods in one of these as well, anything that doesn’t need to be in the cooler will be packed inside one of these. Again a fairly large (but not too deep) is enough for us now. Also, the tupperware can be used for washing your dishes and even filling with water and letting the babies bathe near the campfire.

  • Camping for the first time? You can find a comprehensive list here thanks to lovetheoutdoors.com - We try to stay as minimal as possible when camping, so I’ll do a lot of my food prep the night before, which means things like a potato peeler (or pie iron) aren’t necessary to bring, since they are already washed/peeled (and who makes pie while they are camping?). Also, depending on the type of camping you are doing, you probably won’t need luxury items like a 5-gallon shower bag. With kids, we are typically car camping, which means most places have showers, so we would either take the kids for a shower, or bird bath in our tupperware container.

  • If you just got a new tent, try assembling it before hand to see how much effort is required. We just got a 6 person “North Face Kaiju” tent and so far so good! It’s very easy to assemble, we love the extra space, and the awning is great!

  • If you can find a hammock, bring it! We usually hang the hammock quite low to the ground and this has kept the kids entertained for anywhere from 2 to 20 minutes at a time.

  • Head lamps - our entire family has a head lamp - they allow you to have your hands free and the kids think they are really cool.

Cooler Hacks:

  • A frozen 2-litre water jug makes a great ice pack and when it thaws, you can use the water to drink.

  • We usually bring our metal water bottles and refill while on the go.

  • Meal prepping makes cooking much easier. Prepping small tin foil packs that can go right on the grill make life much easier.

  • We will usually bring a small soft sided cooler for any drinks, that way the cooler with the food can stay closed.

Traveling Hacks (for people with a 2 and 4 year old):

  • I will usually pick up a new colouring/sticker book for the kids to play with on the drive down, which may keep them occupied for anywhere from 2 to 20 minutes at a time.

  • We’ve started listening to kids stories on Spotify while driving. This has kept the kids happy and quiet for up to 2 hours at a time.

  • Another great trick to keeping them quite on the drive is popcorn! I’ll air pop some non GMO popcorn the night before and pack a couple reusable bags filled with popcorn (and a little butter) and they will happily (and quietly) munch for anywhere from 2 to 20 minutes at a time.

  • Despite a long day of activities and missing their regular bedtime, they are usually not that excited to sleep. They aren’t really interested in reading a book, so we will download a kids story on Spotify ahead of time and usually they calm right down and are asleep within 5-10 minutes.

  • We will usually try to find a campground either close to a beach or something that has a playground….. for obvious reasons (they rock!)

  • If you have packing space tricycles or bikes (and helmets) have been great entertainment at the campsite.

Meal Hacks:

  • We have a little portable stove that can be used to heat water and items in a small pan. It’s worthwhile to find out if your campsite has a fire pit with a grill or not - this will play a big part in what type of cooking items you bring along with you (stove, mini-stove, mini BBQ, etc)

  • Prep. The day before a camping trip, I like to prep all my veggies (wash and cut), fruits and foil meals. This makes them easy to pack and stack in the cooler and it also makes them easy to grab and go.

  • Pulled pork is a great pre-made meal that you can do a day or two before and then just bring in a reusable container. It’s easy to reheat and eat for breakfast, lunch or supper!

  • I’ve seen some people suggest you crack all your eggs, whisk them and then put them into a plastic bottle (see picture below). I’m not 100% sold on this idea, we usually keep our eggs in a carton in the cooler, it just seems like they would last a lot longer without being cracked ahead of time. Plus you can let your egg carton smoulder at the campsite to keep the bugs away!

  • These look amazing! Egg and cheese bread bowls - I’m trying them on our next trip.

  • Our kids love oatmeal, I always put a couple oatmeal cups in our dry goods bin for them

Not sure if camping is something your family could get into? Try an Otentik or equipped camping! Parks Canada had these great accommodations for people who aren’t quite set up for camping! Check them out here. The Otentiks are even heated - so you can usually get one early or late in the season and be comfortable. We’ve rented one early in May and later in September and it was awesome!