How To Plan The Perfect Camping Trip With Your Kids

Your kids are growing up and now that they’re teenagers, it’s time to plan a fun-filled camping trip with them. But where do you begin? In this post, we share everything you need to know about planning your first ever family camping trip!

Family Style! // Tips for Camping with Little Kids
Camping with kids can be fun and challenging
Proper planning and preparation are key for successful camping trips
Choosing the right gear and equipment can make all the difference
Engaging kids in outdoor activities can keep them entertained and happy
Safety should always be a top priority when camping with kids

Find A Safe, Family-Friendly Campground Near You.

Campgrounds that are close to home are often more convenient and less costly than those farther away. 

That said, the closer the campground is to your home base, the more likely it is that you will be surrounded by other campers who are not as respectful of nature as you would like them to be. 

If this is an issue for you and your family, consider looking for a more remote camping experience with fewer amenities or even no amenities at all (like backpacking).

  • Choose a campground with good reviews online

The internet has made researching almost anything extremely easy—and finding out whether or not a campground has an active bear population isn’t much different from checking its Yelp page (though hopefully there won’t be any bears on Yelp). 

Look up reviews of local parks and pay attention to what previous guests had to say about their experiences there: Were they able to find activities appealing enough for everyone in their party? What kind of facilities did they have available? 

Did people feel safe leaving their children unattended while they went swimming? Did anyone encounter any bugs—both real ones and those that may have appeared when reviewing the park’s website too closely?

Planning camping trips with kids can be challenging but fun. Learn how to make it easy and safe for the whole family with our guide on glamping with kids.

Plan Your Trip For Spring Or Fall

The best time to go camping with your kids is spring or fall. These are the most popular times to camp, but they’re also the best because they provide a comfortable temperature range and beautiful weather. 

Summertime can get hot, especially if you plan on staying in an RV or tent. Winter, on the other hand, is a little too chilly especially if you’re planning on sleeping in your tent (you should probably upgrade). If you plan on visiting any national parks or state parks during this time of year, make sure they have public bathrooms available so that everyone still has access to running water when nature calls!

And as far as wildlife viewing goes? Spring and fall are perfect—animals tend not to hibernate during these seasons so it’s easy for them to be found wherever there’s food available for them throughout all four seasons of their lives!

Best Seasons to Camp: Spring vs. Fall

SpringPleasant weather, moderate temperatures, blooming flowers and trees, less crowded campsites, and lower feesHigh humidity, rain, unpredictable weather conditions, and potential for allergy season
FallCool, crisp weather, beautiful foliage, fewer bugs to deal with, and fewer crowdsShorter days, earlier sunset, lower water levels, and the potential for colder temperatures

Camping during spring or fall can be a great choice for outdoor enthusiasts who want to enjoy the beauty of nature without sacrificing comfort and convenience. However, each season has its own advantages and disadvantages that are worth considering when planning your camping trips. Use this table to help guide your planning process and make the most of your outdoor adventures.

Keep It Simple.

You can’t go wrong by keeping it simple. You don’t have to have a three-hour hike planned for your kids every day, or a whole itinerary of activities for them to do. 

While some parents might be tempted to overplan their trip, keeping it simple is the way to go as long as you keep safety in mind (more on that later).

Your goal should be making sure that your kids are having fun and enjoying themselves. If they do get bored with what you have planned, suggest something else! 

You may want to bring along books or games that can keep them entertained while also giving them something new and exciting each night as well as between activities during the day.

Looking for the best campgrounds in the USA for your next family vacation? Look no further! Check out our list of the best campgrounds for families in the USA for unforgettable outdoor adventures with your loved ones.

Prepare For Rain

If you’re going to be camping in the spring, summer or fall, expect that it’s going to rain at some point. 

It’s best to plan for this by bringing a poncho and rain boots for each member of your family. Ponchos are great because they’re lightweight, fold up easily and provide protection from both wind and rain. 

Rain boots are also lightweight and easy to carry around when not in use. Additionally, bring along rubberized tarps that can be set up over tents if needed as well as an extra tarp for covering gear outside of the tent if necessary. 

You may also want to invest in an inexpensive tent with its own rainfly or two-person backpacking tent with built-in flys that don’t require separate setup like many larger tents do.

Rainy Day Gear Checklist

Waterproof JacketKeep yourself dry in rain and wet weather conditions. Look for high-quality and durable jackets such as Columbia Men’s Watertight II Jacket.
Rain PantsProtect your legs and keep your pants dry from rain and mud. Consider purchasing highly rated rain pants like Marmot Men’s PreCip Lightweight Rain Pants.
Waterproof BootsKeep your feet dry and comfortable with the waterproof boots such as The North Face Men’s Hedgehog Fastpack GTX Hiking Boot.
Waterproof BackpackKeep your gear dry and secure inside a waterproof backpack such as Osprey Packs Ultralight Raincover.
Waterproof TentInvest in a high-quality waterproof tent like the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL Backpacking Tent to stay dry and comfortable in the event of heavy rain.

It is essential to be prepared for rain when camping to avoid getting wet and uncomfortable. If you’re not sure what gear you need to stay dry during a rainy camping trip, this Rainy Day Gear Checklist table can serve as a starting point. Make sure to pack appropriate gear and clothing to stay dry during your camping trip.

Practice Beforehand

Practice, practice, practice! You should make sure that everyone in your family has had a chance to try out all of these camp-related skills before you actually set off. 

For instance, if there’s something like setting up your tent or packing the car that you haven’t done before, get some practice at it when you’re home first so everyone can feel confident in their abilities beforehand. 

The same goes for cooking meals over an open flame—if anyone hasn’t done that before and is feeling nervous about it (or any other aspect of camping), have them give it a shot at home first so they’ll feel more comfortable doing it while actually camping. 

This will also give you a chance to find out what kind of gear works best for each person in your family: do they prefer sleeping bags or air mattresses? Are they going to need pillows? Don’t forget about things like flashlights!

Keep your kids entertained and engaged during camping trips with these fun outdoor activities. Check out our guide on 15 fun activities to keep your kids entertained while camping and make your next camping trip an unforgettable experience for your little ones.

Bring Comfort Food

Before you pack up your car and head out on your camping trip, think about what kind of food you’re going to bring with you. You absolutely can make a campfire (or use a grill) and cook up some real meals, but those take time and effort that most kids don’t want to put in when they’re out having fun.

Instead, let them choose their favorite comfort foods from home or make sure that you bring easy snacks with lots of protein to keep them fueled for all the games and races they’ll be doing outdoors.

If your children are picky eaters it’s best not to go overboard; stick with things like cheese strings or chicken nuggets as opposed to turkey sandwiches or peanut butter & jelly. The less messy (and potentially messy) the snack is, the better! 

Chips are great because they’re easy to clean up while providing plenty of salt & fat so kids will stay satisfied longer than normal—just remember: no Cheetos if there isn’t enough water available!

Comfort Foods to Bring on Your Next Camping Trip

S’moresA classic camping treat made with chocolate, graham crackers, and marshmallows.Hershey’s Chocolate, Honey Maid Graham Crackers, and Kraft Jet-Puffed Marshmallows
Macaroni and CheeseA warm and comforting dish that can be easily prepared on a camp stove or fire.Annie’s Organic Mac & Cheese, Kraft Macaroni & Cheese
Hot CocoaA warm and delicious drink that can be made with water or milk.Swiss Miss Hot Cocoa Mix, Ghirardelli Hot Cocoa
Instant NoodlesA quick and easy meal option that can be customized to your liking.Nongshim Shin Ramyun, Maruchan Instant Lunch
Trail MixA healthy and energy-packed snack that can be personalized with your favorite ingredients.Planters Nuts, Dried Fruits, and chocolate chips

Food plays a vital role in any camping trip. Bringing along some tasty and comforting food can enhance your camping experience and keep you fueled and energized. Use this Comfort Foods to Bring on Your Next Camping Trip table to choose some delicious and satisfying food options to enjoy during your next camping trip.

Plan Some Fun Activities

Now that you know when and where you’re heading, it’s time to plan some activities! The idea is to keep everyone entertained while avoiding lots of stress. 

This can be a challenge because kids are always busy with school and extracurricular activities, so they may not be as interested in playing outside as adults are.

Asking them what they want to do can help you come up with some ideas. But if they don’t have any ideas yet, here are some suggestions:

  • Go hiking
  • Take a nature walk around the campground or nearby forest
  • Go fishing
  • Make s’mores over an open fire (if it’s allowed)

Planning a glamping trip but don’t know what to pack or expect? Our ultimate checklist for glamping has got you covered. Check out our guide on the ultimate checklist for glamping and be ready for the ultimate outdoor adventure.

Don’t Overplan

You have a million things to do before you go, but don’t worry about all of them at once. Don’t try to plan every minute of your trip that will just make you more stressed out than you need to be. 

Focus on what you can control and let the rest work itself out as it may. If something doesn’t go according to plan, don’t freak out just adjust accordingly and move on!

Remember Basic Camping Essentials, Including Toilet Paper And Firewood

You’ve made your list, checked it twice and even managed to cross off a few items. But there are still some things you’ll want to remember.

Bring basic camping essentials, including toilet paper, firewood and water filters (should your campground lack running water).

Pack wisely: If you’re bringing kids along on the trip with you, consider bringing a first aid kit—and don’t forget bug spray! Pack lots of snacks that won’t melt in the heat or get gross if left out overnight in the rain. 

And if your child travels with an electronic device (like a phone or tablet), remember that some campsites require Wi-Fi access; check ahead before packing these devices so they can get internet access when needed during their trip away from home.

Camping with kids can be complex, but it doesn’t have to be. Follow our expert tips and tricks in 10 essential tips for camping with kids in the USA guide to make your family camping trips fun and safe for everyone.

Set The Ground Rules – And Stick To Them

Set the ground rules. It sounds simple, but it’s critical to be clear about what you expect from your kids and how they will behave on your trip. One way to do this is by using a family meeting to discuss rules, boundaries and consequences.

Make sure everyone is on board. Talk with all members of your family (including grownups) before setting off on your camping adventure so that everyone understands the expectations and why they are important for safety or other reasons.

Discuss consequences in advance – both positive and negative – so there are no surprises when it comes time for them to be enforced. If you don’t set clear consequences up front, then it becomes much harder for everyone involved if something does go wrong down the road because no one knows what’s expected of them or what might happen next time around if things don’t go according to plan this time around either!”

Be Prepared For Late-Night Snacks

You might be thinking, “I’ll just grab a few boxes of cereal and some fruit snacks.” But you’d be surprised at how difficult this can get when you’re camping. You have to consider things like:

  • Is the food easy to prepare? If so, can it be cooked over an open fire?
  • Is it easy to eat? (Who wants to eat a heavy meal from a tin can on their lap with no plates?)
  • Is it easy to clean up after? (Even if you do use plates and utensils, will there be any water nearby for washing them?)
  • Can it store well in small containers without going bad or attracting pests?

Once you’ve thought about these things for each item on your menu list, make sure all of them are checked off before packing up your car!


If you’re looking for a fun, inexpensive way to bring your family together, camping is the perfect option. Just remember to plan ahead and set some ground rules. With these tips, you can make sure everyone has a great time when they camp with their kids!

Further Reading

If you’re looking for more information and expert tips on camping with kids, check out these additional resources:

Camping with Kids: Expert Advice from REI: This article from REI offers practical advice and expert tips for camping with kids, from choosing the right gear to keeping your kids safe and happy on camping trips.

Planning a Camping Trip with Kids: Tips and Essentials by KOA: This guide from KOA provides helpful tips and essentials for planning the perfect camping trip with kids, from packing the right gear to choosing the best campground.

The Ultimate Guide to Camping with Kids by Run Wild My Child: This comprehensive guide from Run Wild My Child covers everything you need to know about camping with kids, from choosing the right location to keeping your kids entertained and safe.


How can I choose the best campground for camping with kids?

When choosing a campground for camping with kids, you should consider factors such as its location, amenities, and the activities available nearby. Look for campgrounds that offer activities such as hiking, biking, fishing, or swimming that are appropriate for kids of all ages.

What gear do I need for camping with kids?

You’ll need to bring along some additional gear when camping with kids, such as a child carrier backpack, a camping crib or a travel cot, family-sized tent, and a camp stove. Check out our expert tips on camping with kids to learn more about the essential gear.

How can I keep my kids entertained during camping trips?

You can keep your kids entertained during camping trips by involving them in outdoor activities such as hiking, fishing, or playing games. Additionally, you can engage them in campfire stories, nature scavenger hunt games, and stargazing.

How can I make camping with kids safe?

Making camping with kids safe includes selecting a family-friendly campground, setting up camp near the ranger station, ensuring that kids have proper gear and clothing. Furthermore, adults should teach their children hiking, campfire safety, and the importance of keeping a safe distance from wild animals.

What are some tips for cooking and meal planning when camping with kids?

When camping with kids, choose easy-to-prepare and kid-friendly meals. Plan and prepare meals beforehand to avoid chaos. Encourage kids to participate in simple or fun cooking activities like roasting marshmallows, creating s’mores, or making hot dogs and let them assist in meal planning and cooking.