Camping with the Family – #1 Free Beginners Guide

Do you want to go camping with the family this summer? Is it your first time? Or have you camped before but need some new suggestions? If yes, you’re in luck with we have a beginner guide for camping with your family. Camping can be a great inexpensive vacation idea and a great outdoor adventure.

If you’ve never hiked with your kids before, it might seem intimidating. You might think your kids will get bored or tired. How will you survive? Being prepared is essential to having a great time in nature and soaking up the natural beauty. The great thing about hiking is you don’t need specialized gadgets. Or expensive equipment to have fun.

Related Post: How To Camp With A Toddler

What is the best way to go Camping with the Family?

First, you need to decide what you want to sleep in? Below are a few different options to consider.

Family Tenting

Tent Camping

Tent camping is what first comes to mind when mentioning camping. It is the classic pitch a tent and be with nature!
There are different types of tents to choose from. a family tent with 2 or 3 joining rooms, one large tent to fit your whole family, or you could opt for many tents.

Car Camping

Car Camping

Car camping is an option if you have a large SUV or van with fold-down seats. You can also buy an SUV tent for more room. This will go on the trunk or above the SUV. This is a better option for fewer people, and I would not recommend it for a family. I have car camped before with a friend and prefer all other types of camping. It is a convenient and cheap option.

RV Family Camping

RV Camping or Tent Trailer

Renting an RV camping or tent trailer is a perfect option for families wanting to try camping. They are comfortable and come with real beds. If do not have access to borrowing all the camping gear it may be cheaper than purchasing tenting gear. You will have a stove, fridge, and beds. The might also be flush toilets a shower and air conditioning. We borrowed a tent trailer and it is especially nice to have on rainy days and to have the air conditioning on HOT days. You will have to pay for the rental plus the campground fees.

Yurt Camping

Yurt or small cabin

Yurts and small rustic cabins have become popular options to book at campgrounds. It is a great way to go camping for beginners as you do not need to set up a tent or learn how to use the RV or tent trailer. Where I live the yurt and rustic cabin options are very affordable. Due to Covid, I was unable to book one this year as they booked before I even got my turn to book. A yurt is a perfect option for family camping for the first time as there is less gear you need to own and bring.

How Far Should You Go on your First Family Camping Trip?

After you decide what you are going to sleep in, next you need to decide where to go?
When camping with the family the first few times I recommend finding a campground around 1 to 2 hours away from your house if possible. The closer the better. We have driven home twice since camping with our kids due to bad weather. We chose both times to sleep at home. Then drove back the next day, but were only 40 mins away from our house so it was an easy choice to make.

Where should you go Camping with Family?

There are so many options and campsites you should take a look at reviews of campgrounds in your area.

Family Friendly Campground

A campground is the best choice for camping with family.

National park and state parks have nice setups. With amenities like a hot shower, flush toilets, garbage, recycling, power, rv dump stations. Picnic table, fire pits with an option to buy firewood. There is also a visitor center which might have food to buy or coffee, and a playground, beach, and lake. There are also nice hiking trails, paved bike trails.

Private campgrounds have most of the same amenities. Some feature extra kids activities, mascots, mini-golf, a water park, swimming pool, boat rental, or horseback riding. Depending on the extra amenities, it can come with an expensive price tag. It will still be more affordable when comparing flight vacations with hotels.

I prefer the more wilderness aspects of national and state parks. My kids liked both. The private campground we tried had a small water park, so the experiences were different.

Backcountry Camp

This is not recommended for beginner campers. Even as an experienced camper who has backcountry camped. I choose to camp at provincial or national campgrounds with my kids. When they are older we will plan backcountry canoe trips.

When Should you go Camping with the Family?

Camping is much more enjoyable in moderate temperatures without rain. If it is your first camping experience with young kids a big storm or rain while setting up can make or break your trip. Our friends tried camping for the first time during a heatwave they did NOT have a great time.

The only problem is that you can not predict the weather. Choose a season where you are going that has the least rainy days and best weather. Where I live the best months are June, August, and the beginning of September. For you, it may be different.

This is also why I choosing a location close to home. We had booked a trip when our youngest was one and a big storm was happening during the night. Instead of getting hit by the storm, we went home to sleep. We still ate all our meals at the campground both days and had a great time but didn’t actually sleep there.

Camping Gear for Families?

Make a camping checklist with the items below. Some items will depend on the weather and what activities you will be participating in.

Basic Camping Gear

  • Something to sleep in a tent, RV, car, or reservation at a yurt:
  • Food and water
  • Sleeping Bag
  • Camp kitchen
  • first aid kit
  • Sleeping Pad
  • Multi knife tool
  • Lantern
  • Clothes – How to Layer
  • Rain Jacket
  • Camping Chair
  • Personal Hygiene Kit
  • Sunscreen, Bug Spray, Bear Spray – depending on where you are going
  • Wagon or Kid Carrier
  • Life Jackets
Paddle Boarding

Pitching A Tent

Tips for Camping with the Family

If you have never pitched a tent before practice in your backyard. Or even your basement, my kids “camp” in our basement in the winter. Try a few times!
Some tents are harder to set up than others follow the instructions and use two people.

How to Build A Campfire

Your campsite will have a fire pit and you will want to use it. If you haven’t started a fire before If possible try at home. Watch the youtube video below to help.
I started making toilet paper lint rolls off Pinterest, it makes a great fire starter!

Protecting Your Skin

You will want to protect your skin from sunburns and bug bites.
Bring sunscreen and hats if you are camping in the summer. A bad sunburn can wreck your sleep and day so make sure to re-apply.
My oldest son has bad reactions to mosquito bites. We not only bring bug spray but also bug hats and he will wear summer pants and a long sleeve shirt at the campsite. We also have a dining tent that goes around the picnic table

Extra Tips for Families

Here are some extra tips for camping with kids before you start prepairing for your next adventure.

  • Let your kids help pack
  • Young kids will need help and you can give them a checklist.
  • Don’t Try New Foods. Try out your recipes at home and make sure they are easy to make camping. Also, everyone in the family should like the meal. If one family member does not like it, bring something extra for them like an easy peanut butter sandwich.
  • Bring Activities. My kids love scavenger hunts so I bring 3. If you have the room you can bring bikes or scooters. Binoculars, magnifying glasses, water toys.
  • Organize your gear – tips here.
  • Let your kids pick a comfort item. Favorite toy or blanky or both.
  • Expect they might stay up a little later. Your kids will be excited. It also might be light out at their regular bedtime expect the first night for them to stay up late. By the second night, they will most likely be tired and go to bed on time.

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