A list of products linked in this post is available below.
Disclaimer: The products linked in this post are items we have tried and liked. We do NOT receive any payment (financial or in-kind) from any of the links in this post nor do we have any partnerships with any of the product manufacturers.
I often get questions from fellow parents who would like to start camping with their young children, but don’t know where to start. So, I wanted to share a few of our tips and tricks that have helped make camping with kids a bit more enjoyable.
We bought our first camper when our youngest was 3-months-old and our oldest was three. Through a good bit of trial and error we found some strategies that help make camping with kids a little bit more enjoyable.
One of the main challenges of camping with kids is ensuring sound sleep when the whole family is confined to close quarters. Our first camper was only 19’, so we didn’t have room for a play pen for our then infant. Instead in the early days (before he could roll) he used a portable infant sleeper on the converted dinette.
Once he got a little older we custom built a swing gate to cover the opening to one of the bunks. When we upgraded to our current camper, the boys each got a double bunk, and we mounted a baby gate over the opening to the toddler’s bed. Our 5-year-old sleeps in the top bunk in an inflatable toddler bed that has built-in bumpers. The air pump that came with the bed also works great for inflating water toys and tubes. An added bonus of using the inflatable bed is I can slide it out to change the sheets rather than having to climb up in a bunk. It’s also a lot easier to clean if your kiddo is prone to overnight accidents.
We also make sure to bring the boys favorite lovies and a portable sound machine from home to help encourage a good night’s rest.
Another question I see online from time to time is: What do you do with diapers? Our solution for dirty diapers is a “trasharoo” mounted on our spare tire on the back of the camper. We simply put a trash bag in the trasharoo at the beginning of the trip and put anything we don’t want in our inside trash in that bag until the soonest opportunity to haul the trash off.
We also make sure we keep wipes and diapers in the car or our “go bag” for when we are on a hike or adventure and need to make a quick stop.
Safety is another top concern when camping with little ones. One modification that we made that has been great for ensuring our peace of mind is the addition of an extended hand rail. Some campers come with the larger hand rail standard, but if you have one with only the small grab handle, head over to Camping World or Amazon and purchase the upgrade.
Not only does the hand rail help the boys steady themselves as they climb up and down the stairs it also can serve as a way to block the screen door from opening. If we are in the camper, but want to enjoy the fresh air, we slide the handle in front of the screen and the toddler can’t open the door and fall out.
Another safety tip that I swear by is dressing the boys in bright clothes and/or hats. Choosing items that stand out from the natural landscape help make it easier to keep my eye on the boys as the play at the campsite or explore a scenic destination.
When our toddler was younger we also traveled with a playpen (I actually found one with a sunshade at Aldi, but it was similar to the one linked) and a baby seat that we could use to keep him more contained. When he was infant we snagged a used BabyBjörn bouncer. It was perfect for camping because it folds flat when not in use and the cover is washable. When he got a bit older we used a Summer Infant Pop and Sit Portable Booster.
Also make sure you have a well-stocked first aid kit and a fire extinguisher in your camper. We keep kits in the camper and in the car at all times.
At times it may feel like you are packing your whole house to take a quick weekend trip, but after some practice you’ll figure out what you don’t need and what can be left in the camper. We typically leave at least one outfit per person, jackets/sweaters, a few toys, diapers, swim diapers, water toys, sunscreen and bug spray in the camper. Another product that we really like, especially in the summer, is our Thermacell lantern. Our 5-year-old is a mosquito magnet, but the Thermacell helps keep them at bay.
Also, if you are a family that allows electronics, we find letting the boys have a tablet or watch TV in the camper occasionally can be a sanity saver. Most of the time we encourage them to be outside and enjoy nature, but sometimes it’s nice to let them watch an episode of their favorite show in the evening while we enjoy a bit of peace and quiet. It can also be helpful when storms roll in or the temperature drops and outdoor activities are off the table.
We don’t take a ton of toys, as we’ve found the boys typically find ways to entertain themselves with rocks and sticks and other items from the campsite. However, we have found bubbles are a great way to entertain kids at the campsite. We recently bought an inexpensive bubble gun that the boys love!
Camping with young kids can be challenging, but the more you keep at it, the more you figure out what works for you and your family. If you have tips you’d like to share, feel free to comment on this post, or message us on our Instagram @SeekTheScenic or our Facebook page www.facebook.com/seekthescenic. Happy Camping!
I have included a full list of the linked products below:
- Baby Delight Snuggle Nest Harmony Portable Infant Sleeper – Amazon
- Emma + Ollie Inflatable Toddler Bed with Bed Rails – Amazon
- Summer Slumber Buddies Projection and Melodies Soother, Eddie The Elephant – Amazon
- Spare Tire Trash Bag, JoyTutus Fits 40″ Tire – Amazon
- Extended Lend-a-Hand Rail – Camping World
- Summer Pop ‘n Play Ultimate Playard, Green -Play Pen with Removable Canopy – Amazon (We found ours at Aldi)
- BabyBjörn Bouncer – Amazon (We found ours on Facebook Marketplace)
- Summer Pop and Sit Portable Booster – Amazon
- Swiss Safe 2-in-1 First Aid Kit – Amazon
- Thermacell Bristol Mosquito Repellent Patio Shield Lantern – Amazon