Family camping is a delightful adventure that can be both memorable and stress-free with a bit of thoughtful planning. As parents of energetic 2 and 4-year olds, we break down how to camp easily with toddlers from our first camping trip to Mono Hot Springs and others since then. Here are some valuable tips to make your camping experience with toddlers as smooth as possible—and nothing short of magical!
Preparation Is Key
- Do your research. Reduce uncertainties by researching your camping choices thoroughly. Find a campground through any of the following campground reservation systems, but plan ahead! Some campsites can book out 6 months or more ahead of time. Know the exact location, campground hours, and any family-friendly amenities nearby.
- National Park Service - Want to experience the national parks? This is a good place to start. Once you are ready to book, you'll jump over to Recreation.gov to complete a reservation.
- Campnab - Alerts you when there are campsite cancellations. Anyone that has tried to book a campsite during high season knows all too well how difficult it can be to reserve a campsite in high demand.
- Hipcamp - Find private campsites as well as national, state, regional and Army Corps parks in all 50 states across the United States. Let's be honest. Many of us aren't planners, so this is a great option.
- Make a list. Check it twice. Planning is the key to a successful camping trip. Create a comprehensive checklist covering everything from essential items like water, food, blankets, and shelter to extra functional gadgets. Knowing you're well-prepared alleviates stress and allows you to focus on enjoying the journey. Check out Trekker Vans’ must-have lists to get started.
- What to pack
- What you really need
- Extra functional gadgets
- Set expectations early. Involve your little ones in the planning process. Share excitement about the upcoming adventure, and explain what to expect during the trip. This not only builds anticipation but also minimizes confusion and potential tantrums. Avoiding toddler meltdowns starts with setting realistic expectations, and knowledge is your best ally.
On the Road
- Find playgrounds along the way. Plan for breaks along the journey. Locate playgrounds with positive reviews en route for potty breaks and a chance for your kids to stretch their legs. A well-timed break can make the journey more enjoyable for everyone.
- Screen time or read time. Entertainment is crucial for those moments when you can't give undivided attention. Pack a variety of entertainment options—whether it's devices, toys, books, or a combination. Remember chargers and consider offline downloads to keep your little ones engaged.
- Comfort items for naps. Pack the loveys, pacifiers, snuggly stuffed animals, and plush blankets. These comfort items can be a game-changer when it comes to helping your toddlers fall asleep for naps on the go.
Things to Avoid
- Do not arrive after dark. Finding your campsite and setting up camp in the dark while managing toddlers is a challenge best avoided. Arrive early to ensure a smooth setup, and spare your little ones from the potential unease of arriving in an unfamiliar place after nightfall.
- Do not wait until the last minute. Procrastination can lead to unnecessary stress. Plan and pack well in advance to ensure you have everything you need. This includes checking the condition of your camping gear and ensuring it's in working order.
- Do not bring a stroller. Strollers can be cumbersome in a camping setting. Opt for baby carriers if your child needs to be carried or explore the freedom of letting them walk if they can. This not only minimizes packing hassles but also provides them with much-needed exercise.
How to Travel
- Consider a camper van for added comfort. For families with toddlers, a camper van can be a game-changer in terms of convenience and comfort. Trekker Vans, in particular, prioritizes smart storage solutions. The convenient bench seating storage allows you to organize and access your essentials easily. Drawers and optional rooftop storage offer additional space for extra camping gear.
- Shelter and security. Sometimes the weather turns out to be less forgiving than planned. Or there are hungry bears in the vicinity. Camping in a camper van provides that extra sense of shelter and security that the whole family could use, especially camping with young children.
- Pack wisely. When traveling with a camper van, consider the unique features it offers. Ensure that your packing includes items suitable for a van setup, maximizing the available space efficiently. With the right preparation, a camper van can turn your camping trip into a comfortable and enjoyable experience for the entire family.
By opting for a camper van, you not only simplify the logistics of camping with toddlers but also enhance the overall comfort and enjoyment of the journey. The camper van becomes a home on wheels, providing a familiar and secure space for your little ones amidst the beauty of the great outdoors. Embark on your camping journey with toddlers, armed with these tips, and create cherished memories amidst the beauty of the great outdoors. Happy camping!