Camping with kids for the first time - what you need to know!
You've committed. Hot on the booking website for 7am to nab the campspot 4 months in advance (if you're in BC like us) and it's HAPPENING. Here's the low-down on ensuring a safe - and sane - experience for everyone:
1. Pick your campsite with care.
There's camping... and there's camping. BC provincial campsites are well-equipped with toilets and accessible clean water - incredibly important for family camping unless you are proper hardcore (in which case you should probably be writing this)
2. Alternative activities and a flexible attitude
..especially if you have to book in advance and have no idea what the weather will do. Small games, puzzles, books and toys(that don't need charging), plus crayons and paper for making nature rubbings are handy to have just in case... "Activity and colouring sheets for rainy day s or just so you can have a beer in peace", as one of our customers put it. Amen, sista.
3. Clothing layers
Listen, if it can get wet, it will get wet. Long sleeved tshirts or onesies, fleeces and hoodies, plus rain gear are all perfect. Oh and plenty of warm socks.
4. 'More spare cloths than you think you'll need - the thinner the better'
One of our IG followers recommended this and we couldn't agree more. Bring a bunch small clothes for wiping dishes, drying dishes etc, and a few for wiping kids! One of our customers told us she uses her Essential Muslin as a lightweight, quick-drying towel at the beach, as well sun cover for baby carrier or stroller, and it takes up practically no space. Genius.
(Oh, I nearly forgot - but don't YOU forget - a rope to sling up between trees to dry all those cloths!)
5. Speaking of sun covers, don't forget the suncreen...
And hats. And insect repellent. In fact, stock a small first aid kit (handy for your car or diaper bag anyway) with band-aids, kid-friendly antiseptic, children's painkiller/fever redi and a thermometer at minimum.
6. Baby carrier
Any will do, but we have noted that hiking carriers are awesome and supportive enough to save your back on hikes with tykes.
7."Snacks. All the snacks. And always make it a game" - RIOP customer
Ah yes. Food and water / formula. Obviously. But prepping a menu and as much of the food as possible in advance cuts out lots of extra time, dishwashing, thinking and general effort while in the great outdoors. Check out Pinterest for ideas for made-in-advance easy pancake recipes and stews.
You might consider bringing your breast pump, and a portable steriliser if necessary, and more clean water than you think you'll need if you're heading to an unserviced spot.
8. Diapers, wipes and a packable changing mat (or a muslin cloth to save space)
Remember that you may have to bring anything disposable home with you if it's wilder camping. Bring twice as many as you think you'll need, and ditto with spare sleep sacs and extra blankets.
9. Sleeping gear
Quality sleeping mats will help keep you and your little ones warm, and if your tent is big enough, you can even bring a pack'n'play or travel cot or baby nest. We love our warm sleeping bags, and always bring extra blankets for addtional heat or just for wrapping up cosy by the campfire. Our quilted blanket is super cosy and easy to travel with in its own drawstring bag.
10. Waterproof tablecloth and/or picnic blanket such as the Big Throw
You can set the kids up to eat or play on the blanket while grownups use the table, or bring dinner down the beach or into the forest!
11. Cooking and cleaning essentials
Bring at least one cooler, a camping stove or grill, and a washing basin. And get thyself a BIG water bottle with a tap. It's amazing just how much you'll use it. Also, make sure your dish soap is earth-friendly, like a pure castille soap.
12. Bits and pieces that are not essential but helpful:
- Lighting solar lanterns or rechargeable and battery powered
- Hand sanitiser, 'nuff said.
- Baby monitor
- Firewood and fire starter - may not be available at the campground
- Cell phone with charger and solar charger if possible
- Portable high chair (Our home high chair strapped to a dining chair, and not only was it great for mealtimes together, we found it doubled as a camping highchair and was amazing for keeping bigger babies/tiny todders safe during dinner prep)