Camping with Kids: 5 Tips for Booking Your Trip

Though I’ve done a couple of backpacking trips (a million years ago), I was initially hesitant about the idea of camping with the girls. I mean, I loved the idea but wasn’t sure how our fiery Vi would take to it. And while there were some inevitable squabbles (no different from home!), for the most part we had a great time. This and next week I'll share a few posts about camping with kids because many people have asked me about it (in the vein of it seeming impossible). Today I’ll start with the first step: 5 tips for booking your trip.

1. Start close. I recommend starting with a short radius, not only so you don’t have to spend a ton of time in the car, but also so that if for some reason things go awry, you know you can pull the ripcord and be home in a reasonable time. (In general, I’m a proponent of sticking with a commitment, but there’s comfort in knowing you could pull the ripcord if you needed to, even if you don’t!) We booked at Pawtuckaway State Park & Campground in New Hampshire, which was about 1 hour, 20 minutes from home -- the perfect distance to get woodsy but not be too far away.

2. Scout out the family friendly factor. Pawtuckaway ended up being super family friendly. In addition to trails, there was a beach, fantastic playground, canoe and boat rentals, and a cute little general store where you could get everything from beach toys to puzzle books to ice cream treats. It was really perfect for families.

3. Be strategic about campsite location. When you’re booking your campsite, think about positioning. For example, Jon smartly booked us at a site on a dead end so we didn’t have a ton of traffic coming through. Also, I recommend positioning yourself close (though not right next to!) bathrooms depending on where your kids are at with the potty situation.

4. Try one night to start. For peace of mind, try one night first to see how it goes. No doubt, it would have been more efficient for us to book 2-3 nights given that it takes some effort to get packed and organized (I’ll cover that topic in a separate post), but for our first time camping as a family, we felt better just committing to one night.

5. Just do it! I know many people are hesitant about trying camping with kids, what with gear (again, I’ll get to that in a separate post!) and different temperaments but I recommend you just do it! It’s simply wonderful to be in nature and away from devices and household live more slowly, even if it's just for a short stint. In the grand scheme of things our camping adventures was less than 24 hours but it was fun and different (and incredibly affordable!) and we plan on going again!

Do you have other tips for booking camping trips with kids? Feel free to share them in the comments below!

Image credits: Christine Koh