“What are the essentials that I need to pack?” – a common question heard by Moms everywhere when they are anxiously trying to plan and pack for a family camping trip. The true answer to that question is “everything”. However, I will attempt to make it easier for you with my top 5 tips that you may not find in a google search of camping lists.
WIPES – lots of them
The ultimate tool for camping. For kids and adults. You can never have enough wipes on hand. It still amazes me that my son can look like he rolled in the firepit after only a couple hours of playtime. Wipes are especially great when there is no way of bathing your children before the weekend is up. If you own an RV, do not flush them down your toilet. They do not disintegrate. They can cause big problems in your RV.
When my son was 4 months old, we bought a motor home. From 4 months to 18 months we went a little overboard with how much stuff we hauled every time. A high chair, the exersaucer, the bumbo seat AND the playpen. I remember rotating him from station to station. Oh… I even took the stroller for the few walks I took him on. I look back now and know it was way too much stuff. If I could recommend 1 piece of equipment, it would be the playpen with quite a few sets up fitted sheets. It can be brought in and out as you need it and doubles for a bed.
Camping is a time to have fun with your family. A time to relax, make quality memories and drink wine of course. Don’t get stuck having to prepare meals and snacks every hour to appease the family. Do your prep work ahead of time!
In those days or even weeks leading up to a big camp-out, do some prep work. I usually start a few weeks before by making a few different batches of cookies/muffins and freezing them. Then I prepare a meal plan. I make my grocery list from that. I make some foods up ahead of time and freeze it. Especially meat. I make taco meat ahead of time and freeze it. I make spaghetti sauce ahead of time and freeze. I make shiskabobs at home and freeze them in marinate sauce. I pre-cut veggies and fruit. I make dips. I grate cheese and dice anything needed to cook (peppers, ham, mushrooms etc). I know it seems like a lot of work but when you are busy relaxing, the last thing you want to do is worry about an hour worth of prep to cook your family a meal. Trust me and try it once. You will be so happy you did.
Snacks are key! Homemade muffins, cookies, hard boiled eggs, meat & cheese, fruit and veggie trays are great places to start. Our kids work up a large appetite using their imaginations.
“NEW TO THEM” TOYS
Just in case you hear the dreaded “B” word, bring along some “new to them” activities and toys. They do not have to be expensive. Pick them up throughout the year on sale and at the dollar store. Store them away so they are ready for your camp trip. Some of my favorite: bug collecting kits, glow sticks, origami kits, Uno, kites, bubbles and Styrofoam airplane sets. Only pull out one or two activities as needed.
THEIR VERY OWN FLASHLIGHT/LANTERN
When kids aren’t in their own surroundings at night, things can be scary. No bathroom light left on or nightlight for that matter. Give them their own sense of security with a child friendly flashlight or lantern. Don’t give them a metal mag light that they can knock their teeth out with either. Swing by Canadian Tire or Walmart and search out a kid friendly plastic lantern. Don’t forget the extra batteries because I can guarantee you they will fall asleep with their lantern left on beside on them. This tip can help your child wind down and fall asleep after a long adventurous day meeting new friends, riding bikes and making mud pies.
Don’t worry too much about over packing. Just take note of what you didn’t use so you don’t pack it on your next trip.
Oh… and parents – don’t forget your wine and camera!