This was my kids' first camping trip. I thought I had put enough preparation in for this trip but of course, you know more after you've gone out and gained some real life experience and tested out your gear. So here's what I learned and what I wish I'd done differently.
1. Set up the camp sight before you do anything else!
I had planned to meet my Grandpa and cousin for some fishing before check in since it wasn't until 3pm. But it took a long time to get everyone in the car and have our car packed and then of course there were last minute stops at the store for fishing bait or ice and whatnot. We were so late! And then setting up the camp sight after we were all exhausted from the day was not fun. We crashed before we got to enjoy the campfire.
I suggest having your campsite set up. Whether you come a day earlier or plan to meet people a day later. It'll be a lot more convenient to be able to come back to a tent to lay down for a nap or get straight to cooking. Not scrambling to set up.
2. Make sure you have all your cooking equipment
Now, I thought I had everything I needed, but I soon discovered I was missing a serving spoon, utinsels, we ran out of charcoal, and butter would've been useful for breakfast time. High on our list to purchase before our next camping trip is a small propane burner to make eggs and such quicker and easier. I wasn't sure if I NEEDED one, I skipped on it...well, now I know that I do. I'm also looking to invest in https://amzn.to/301qjt0 so I don't have to haul around a bunch of clunky items but instead have nesting pots and pans, etc.
3. Don't forget the coffee
We brought iced coffee with us so we didn't have to worry about our caffeine fix in the morning. If you like hot coffee, you can purchase instant coffee mix but be prepared to boil your water which would be easier on a propane burner and saves you charcoal.
4. There are never enough blankets
We were freezing! I purchased a lower quality sleeping bag and we were still cold in the middle of the night to early morning. If you don't want to invest in a good quality sleeping bag then make sure you have lots of blankets to layer as necessary.
My kids had https://amzn.to/2LwNabT and those were really warm and the fabric was thick, soft, and comfortable. I'm purchasing an adult size for for next time!
P.S. blow up bed is the way to go! $10 at Walmart!
5. Tent Lights
Best thing I purchased were my dome tent lights. It was the perfect night light, had 3 different settings and we were able to use it as a flashlight outside as well. Nice and small, but oh so bright!
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TIP: GLOW STICKS I purchased as a fun novelty item, but it turned out to be a safety item for me. Being able to spot my kid due to them wearing their glow sticks at night was so useful! Get glow sticks and make sure they wear them at night so you can easily spot them. It gets really dark out and it’s easy for them to disappear with the darkness!
6. The more the merrier
Our friends tagged along last minute and I'm so glad they did. They brought things we didn't think of bringing, we all shared the load as far as cooking, cleaning, keeping the kids entertained. It was so fun being outdoors with our close friends. If you can plan a group camping trip, DO IT! you won't regret it!
7. Bring ear plugs
If you're a light sleeper or have an earlier bedtime, I suggest bringing some earplugs. Families in camping parks stay up late around the fire and talk, laugh, have a good time! Unfortunately, if you're trying to sleep, it could be a little inconvenient. Also, animals at night like wild boars roaming around your camp site can keep you awake too! Bring along some ear plugs to help you get a good night's rest.
8. Don't forget the first aid kit
I'm so glad I over-prepped my first aid kit. I needed tylenol the first night, everyone needed allergy medicine, my husband cut his finger while gutting a fish, and one child broke out in hives on his arm from something. If you think you're over packing your first aid kit, you're packing it correctly!
9. Cleansing Wipes
It's dirty, it's dusty, it's camping! I haven't seen my kids or myself so dirty in a long time. I felt horrible laying down for sleep with my feet so disgusting! I'm happy I had my wet wipes to wipe down some of the dirt but next time I will have a big bucket we can use to soap up our legs and feet before bed.
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10. Food Prep
Having food prepped beforehand made it really easy. I put pre-scrambled eggs in a water bottle so we didn't have to worry about eggs breaking. It was easy to pour into the pan and cook up as much as we needed. Pre-formed hamburger patties, bagged salads, pre-sliced cheese and cutting up tomatoes and onions before the trip made meals much easier!
11. Plastic containers
Having everything organized in clear plastic storage containers kept everything clean, dry, and easy to get to. We kept food and eating supplies in one, and the first aid kit, table cloth, tent lights, all non food related items in another one.
I can't wait for our next camping trip in 2 months. It's going to be longer than our last one so I'm happy to have tested our equipment beforehand with a quick overnight stay in our own town. I wouldn't want to be 3 hours away from home and unprepared with proper equipment for 3 days!
What are your camping secrets and must haves?? Leave a comment!