Essential Tips for Planning Your Next Family Camp Vacation

by Indiana Lee
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Hitting the open road on a family vacation is a great way to bond with your kids and burn off some steam. You’ll have plenty of time to connect with your loved ones around the campfire and will make memories that last when roasting smores and hiking backcountry trails.

Camping is great for your kids, too. A study published by the University of Plymouth found that four out of five parents say their children performed better at school thanks to camping, and 95% said their kids were happier when camping.

However, you can’t just expect to pack the car and rock up to the first campground you find. Happy camping is built on planning, preparation, and proactive measures to ensure that your family is prepared for all that nature has to offer.

family camp vacation | Unsplash
Photo credit: Unsplash

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Choosing a Campground

Finding a campground that suits your family’s needs is crucial. You don’t want to book an idyllic spot just to find out that it’s at the far end of a 10-mile trailhead when you park the car. The campground you settle on should have adequate amenities for your kids, too, as they’ll likely need a little more support than experienced campers.

When searching for a campground, consider factors like:

  • Driving Distance: Young children will struggle if you need to drive all day to reach the destination. Instead, start with a nearby campground to create a positive association between road trips and family fun.
  • Amenities: Your kids will turn their noses up at campground toilets and public showers. However, for young children, they’re a much better option than having to dig a hole in the ground. Double-check that the campground you’re visiting has these basic amenities and always bring some extra loo-roll just in case.
  • Environment: Is the campsite you are planning to visit appropriate for young children? Avoid camping near fast-running water and check the temperature before booking a campground in a high desert.

Be sure to follow the National Park Service’s best practices when securing your campground. Make sure you set up at the right spot, too, as it’s all too easy to accidentally steal someone’s reserved spot. When booking, try to pick a spot close to showers and restrooms so your child doesn’t have to walk far to take care of themselves.

After arriving, appraise the site and set up camp in an area that is flat and is not under any dead branches. Most campsites will have designated areas for your tent, meaning you’ll be able to get your family situated quickly on arrival.

Proactive Health Tips

Spending a few nights is great for your physical and mental health. However, if you want to make the trip memorable for the right reasons, you’ll need to proactively protect your health while in the great outdoors. Start by taking simple measures like:

  • Stay within your family’s abilities when considering hiking trails and outdoor activities
  • Pack weather protection in the form of long-sleeve shirts, sunscreen, and wide-brimmed hats
  • Pack some thermal underwear for the kids (and thermal wear for parents too) in case it gets chilly at night
  • Use bug protection to minimize the risk of bites
  • Let friends and family know where you’re going in case of an emergency

Take common sense seriously when camping by bringing essential items like phone battery chargers, spare tires, and extra layers of warm clothing. This can make a world of difference in an emergency and keep your family safe from the elements. Research your destination thoroughly first, too, as this will help you assess whether or not the campground is appropriate for your crew.

First Aid

Brushing up on your first-aid skills is crucial before you go camping. Knowing how to deal with injuries and accidents like sprains and broken bones is essential if you want to enjoy all that nature has to offer. This means you should have a well-stocked first-aid kit that includes key items like:

You don’t need to bring your entire supply of gauze and tourniquets. However, you should be able to deal with common issues like bug bites and burnt fingers. You can also make good use of first-aid safety hacks when in the great outdoors. For example, belts can be turned into tourniquets to stem bleeding and antiperspirants can be used to minimize itching after a bug bite. This will cut down on the size of your pack but ensure that you’re still ready to respond when someone cuts their finger while trying to open a tin of beans.

Family Friendly Activities

Camping helps the whole family slow down and enjoy life’s simple pleasures. However, if you have active kids, you’ll know that they need extra stimulation to burn off their energy before the night rolls around. As such, you’ll want to plan some family-friendly activities to keep everyone occupied.

Camping activities needn’t break the bank, either. Guided river tours and mountain biking can get expensive, but nothing is stopping you from getting into cost-effective camping activities like roasting smores and playing music together. Try to involve the kids when planning the trip, and put together a bucket list of summer activities like:

  • Paddleboarding and kayaking
  • Hike around local nature parks
  • BBQ on site together
  • Clean up the campground
  • Bathe in hot springs

These activities are plenty of fun and will bring the whole family together. Cleaning up the campground can form a strong sense of civic duty, too, as kids will learn to take care of nature. This should be a regular talking point when camping, as following leave-no-trace principles is crucial when you’re away from home and in the great outdoors.

Wrapping Up

Taking your family camping is the perfect way to spend a long weekend. You’ll unwind while in the outback and can plan plenty of fun activities while in nature. Just be sure to proactively protect your family’s health by packing plenty of sunscreen, hats, and long sleeves. This will prevent common issues like bug bites and keep everyone happy throughout the camp vacation. If you do decide to get away for a while, consider asking your kids to contribute some ideas, too, as they may want to try out exciting activities like kayaking or paddleboarding.

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