Summertime is the perfect season to spend time with your children and create memories you’ll share for years to come. But while family camping vacations can be a whole lot of fun, they can be tricky to navigate if you’ve got a toddler in tow. Bringing your little one on a family vacation can be a challenge, but if you follow these tips, your camping trip is sure to be a success.
- Bring lots of layers
You should always keep a close eye on the forecast when you pack for your trip. But no matter where you decide to go on your trip, the weather will probably be unpredictable (even in summer). It may be hot and humid during the day, but temperatures can drop at night. By packing layers for your toddler, they’ll be prepared for anything. Comfort and practicality are key. T-shirts, socks, shorts, and comfy shoes are a good base. Bring along a sweatshirt, a rain jacket, and long pajamas. Don’t forget water shoes and a sun hat!
- Focus on safety
You’ll definitely need to bring a first-aid kit with adhesive bandages, gauze, antibiotic cream, hydrogen peroxide or antiseptic wipes, after-bite, children’s aspirin, tweezers, scissors, a cold pack, a flashlight and batteries, calamine lotion, sunscreen, bug spray, and more. But you should also teach your toddler the skills they need to reduce their risk of injury. By highlighting plant (especially poison ivy, oak, and sumac) and animal (snakes, spiders, and other insects) identification and reminding them to keep a close watch on their surroundings, you can make your family camping vacations a lot safer and a lot less stressful for everyone.
- Pack their favorite activities
You’re bound to fit in some great exploring and outdoor activities, but it’s also a good idea to bring portable games, books, or crafts along with you. You may even want to equip your child with their own little backpack that can hold a flashlight, water bottle, snacks, and a couple of these fun games or toys. Coloring books and crayons, camping-themed crafts, or anything glow-in-the-dark can be great options. That way, even if you experience a rainy day or two, your toddler will never be bored.
- Stay close to home
For your toddler’s first camping trip, don’t be overly ambitious. Older children can often withstand hours in the car, but your toddler may not be at that stage quite yet. You know your child best, so pick a camping destination that will be a good fit for your child’s capabilities and your own stress tolerance. Generally, local camping sites are a better option because they don’t require you to travel long distances and will allow you plenty of time to set up your tent or get settled in your cabin before sundown. Once your child gets a bit older and feels more comfortable going on trips, you can branch out a little more.
- Don’t discount amenities
You may enjoy roughing it in a basic tent and sleeping bag, but that’s probably not the best option if you have a young child with you. Your family camping vacations will be much more tolerable if you look for a campsite that offers amenities like running water or even cabins with beds, kitchen equipment, and protection from the elements. It may not be traditional, but it’s usually a safer option. Plus, many of these resorts are kid-friendly and offer activities on-site that can be a real asset to your trip. Being totally cut off from civilization might be an option later on, but it’s likely not a great idea for your family’s first big outing.
Family camping vacations may not always be easy, but they can be endlessly rewarding. If you’re planning on taking a trip with your toddler, these tips can help keep them safe and help you sane.