In our pre-kid days my husband and I would often head out last minute for a camping adventure. Checklists? Ha! This wasn’t to say that we didn’t forget things… like maybe the tent poles once upon a time… but we were adults and pretty flexible. Fast forward to our first time car camping with a kid? SO. MUCH. STUFF! We went a bit overboard. Now that I’ve created this family camping checklist, though, we have everything we need without hauling any extra gear, free download below!
What do we need for family camping?
A little preface to this list: There is a ‘hassle to comfort’ ratio that is different for everybody. Do what you will be comfortable with! This is especially true with kids. Potty training? If packing a plastic potty will make you sleep better then by all means strap that thing to the top of your car. Does your kid have a blankie/toy/book they can’t live without? Take it! I encourage you to be very selective on the toy type items you bring, but you know what works for your kid. I specifically left a few ‘fill in the blank’ spots on the kids portion of the family camping checklist for you to fill out these things. You will be surprised with how little your kids need when they have the novelty of eating, cooking and sleeping outside to keep them entertained. Not to mention the stars and campfire to watch in the evening.
I hear so many people say they would love to go camping with their kids but are worried about the sleep situation. My biggest advice is this: You are camping to relax! So be flexible with your schedule. Let them stay up late to roast marshmallows and join in the campfire stories. Schedule in time during the day when you can take a family nap if needed. That way you can all get a break if nighttime wasn’t as restful as you had hoped. My daughter has always slept well while camping, although she tends to take longer to go to sleep. The combination of fresh air and slow pace of camping tends to set the right tone for a restful night for kids. Add in the personal nighttime items from the Family Camping Kids Checklist as well as your usual nighttime routines and you should be in good shape!
There is a whole other checklist for your kitchen. Again this is very dependent on your style, foodie or mac n cheese campers will need very different things. For an exhaustive kitchen checklist check out REI’s Camp Kitchen List. I’ve put in the basics into my Family Camping Checklist so that even if you don’t have all the tools of home, you have the tools you need to make most simple meals.
The Family Camping Checklist!
So without further ado, here is the checklist! I printed mine out and laminated it (huge nerd alert haha:) so that I can use a dry erase marker and reuse the checklist. If you have a pre-reader in the house, get them participating in the packing with our Visual Packing List for Toddlers!
Happy Camping and be sure to follow us on Facebook for upcoming posts on our favorite family camping gear, activities and more!