5 Car Camping with Kids Must-Haves

There’s no doubt – camping with kiddos seems daunting. Parents use so much kid-specific gear on a daily basis that adding that load to a gear-heavy hobby like camping seems like more work than it’s worth! So how do people do it without losing their minds?

You know the basics (sleeping bags, tents, camp chairs), but here are a few of our camping essentials that you may not have considered:

  1. One of my favorite things to bring on camping trips is festive Christmas lights! Kids LOVE Christmas lights, right? So why are they a once-a-year thing? Break those suckers out! Instant joy! I got these adorable cactus Christmas lights at Target, but to be honest with you, they died before our trip was over (it’s okay, Target, I still love you.). Check out these adorable lights over at Amazon, though!
  2. We love card games! We have a stash of 4 or 5 card games that we take on every camping trip, from Go-Fish for the littles to 4 decks of cards for Hand and Foot. A few more that make the camping box are Uno Dare, Monopoly Deal, and Disney’s Eye Found It! These get everyone involved and engaged!

  3. We always let our kiddos pack one (small) bag or box with the toys and games that they want to bring on our trip. It takes up a little extra space, but they feel involved and helpful during the packing process, and we’ve found that it fosters a sense of ownership of the trip.

    4. A cast iron dutch oven! This one may seem a little less exciting, but hear me out. There are only so many options for normal camp food, but bringing a dutch oven along opens up a whole new world! Bacon and eggs, cobbler, chicken pot pie… heck, I’ve even seen CAKE baked in a dutch oven at camp! Trust me on this one, and get to googling those camp recipes!

    5. Here’s a trick we just learned: bring along a cheap welcome mat for right outside the tent door! It’ll add a little color to your day, but most importantly it’ll collect some of the dirt/sand so you have minimal camping grime tracked into your sleeping space. It’ll also provide a landing spot for your hiking boots and shower shoes! This one comes in about a billion different patterns!

There is often a temptation to plan something for every minute of a vacay, no matter how short that vacay is. One of the best parts of any camping trip is the evening at camp: the smell of woodsmoke while dinner cooks, the sound of laughter as the kids ride their bikes around the campground, and the slower pace. Don’t lose that unplugged feel of your trip! Don’t overplan!

Camping is about building memories that kids can call back to mind 20 and 30 years later when they’re prepping for trips with their own families, and that’s where a lot of our “essentials” have come from – tried and true methods that we remember fondly from our own childhoods. What are some of your car camping must-haves?

Categories: Pro Tips

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