Last-Minute Ideas for Camping with Kids Before Going Back to School
The summer is slowly ebbing away, and before you know it, the kids will be heading back to school. Is it time to resign yourself to those long months of waiting for the first school break until your next getaway (and by then there will already be a chill in the air)? Not a chance! One last trip camping with kids is the perfect way to close out the summer, and it doesn’t have to involve hours of preparation and planning.
Here are some helpful ideas and camping organization hacks that will put you in the great outdoors without a lot of fuss or hassle.
You don’t have to drive halfway across the country to find a decent place to camp. Sure, it’s nice to visit national parks and famous tourist sites but camping with kids is all about family time in a beautiful natural setting.
State parks often have well-maintained campgrounds with lots of amenities, like restrooms, swimming, fishing, boating, hiking, and more. There are probably several not far from your home.
Rent a Cabin
The thought of packing up your tent, sleeping bags, dishes, lanterns, and a hundred other things may seem like more trouble than it’s worth if you’re only going to be gone a few days. So why not rent a cabin instead? Everything you need will already be there, packing and unpacking is a cinch, and you can focus on spending time with your kids, visiting nearby places of interest, and creating great memories.
In Your Own Backyard
If all the local sites and cabins are booked, you still have a perfect place to camp — your own backyard! Think about how much fun it would be to sit around the fire pit telling stories, singing, and making s’mores, all in the comfortable environment of your own yard!
Make it like a genuine camping trip by cooking all your meals on the grill, turning off the house lights and using only lanterns and flashlights, and sleeping in a tent. (And yes, you can cheat by going inside to use the bathroom!) Your kids will love it and will remember it for years to come!
Camping Organization Hacks
Camping with kids should be fun, lazy, and relaxing, but it turns into something else when you can’t find anything or when little voices are constantly asking you where something is. You can avoid this by getting everything organized ahead of time and packing properly. The following are a few camping organization hacks that will make your outdoor getaway go as smooth as silk.
Pack by Category
It’s not as crazy as it sounds, really. Separate your stuff into five categories: food, kitchen/cooking items, clothing, sleeping (like sleeping bags, blankets, air mattresses, pillows, etc.), and personal items such as toiletries, books to read, journals, games, etc. That’s it. Then pack those things together in separate bags, bins, buckets, backpacks — whatever you like. When you’re at the campsite, it’ll be super easy to put your hands on whatever you’re looking for.
Make a Meal Plan
Even if you’ll only be gone two or three days, planning meals in advance makes camping much easier. You can buy groceries ahead of time and have them all on hand. No wasting time deciding what to eat. No unnecessary trips to the store.
You may even be able to prepare some things at home so they’re ready to eat or cook. No doubt camping with kids means you’ll need to be sure to pack a few in-between meal snacks too. And if you’re planning to go out to a restaurant once or twice, factor that in as well.
It may seem easier to just throw everything randomly in the car so you can head out as soon as possible. But once you get to the campsite, there’s a certain order of things in setting up camp. So, pack your gear in reverse order of when you’ll need it when you arrive.
For example, you’ll likely want to get your tent set up first, so pack it, any tarps, and any tools you might need last. Then your sleeping bags and air mattresses should be accessible — they take up a lot of room, and you’ll want them out of your vehicle as soon as possible.
Clothing and kitchen items will come next. Since the car is often the best place to store your food, it should be the first thing you pack. It’ll be easy to access once everything else is out.
Nature is full of surprises, be it insect bites, poison ivy, burns, cuts, or slips and falls. Make sure you’re prepared by bringing a good camping first aid kit along with walking sticks, binoculars, flashlights, a compass, and a GPS (your phone can be a lifesaver if you get lost in the woods or on a hike).
Summer’s not quite over, so plan one last trip camping with kids. Don’t overthink it, keep it simple, and focus on family time and fun. End your summer with a bang, not a fizzle!
Wherever your next outdoor adventure takes you, we hope these ideas help make it memorable. At Renlicon we believe that camping and outdoor adventures should be about maximum fun and minimal frustration.
Download the Essential Camping Checklist to help you with your last-minute preparations.