25 Brilliant Hacks for Camping with Toddlers

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If you’re brave enough to go camping with toddlers, then you’re probably on the hunt for some survival tips for the trip… and we’ve got you covered!

 

Here are the most brilliant hacks that we could come up with for camping with toddlers.This is everything you need to know about, bring, and do.

 

So that you can skip the hassle and headaches and enjoy an incredible experience with your family!

 

Three blonde kids in a camping tent with text overlay that says 'Brilliant camping hacks for toddlers'

 

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CAMPING WITH TODDLERS: PACKING HACKS

 

Let’s start with packing and preparation. Here are some easy packing hacks for camping with toddlers.

 

MULTIPLY THE DIAPER BAG INVENTORY

 

To make packing for the kids super easy, just think about what you usually put in your diaper bag for a day trip, and then multiply that by the number of days you’re going to be camping.

 

And of course, add pajamas and toothbrushes!

 

We typically do 3 or 4-day camping trips and we try to keep things really simple and organized so that we can enjoy the outdoors and the quality time.

 

Focusing on just multiplying the diaper bag inventory makes it super easy to determine what is essential and what isn’t when it comes to toddler camping gear.

 

USE ZIPPER STORAGE BAGS

 

If you are tent camping with your toddlers, things are gonna get dirty.

 

The easiest ways to keep clothes organized and clean is to store them in individual zipper bags. We use zipper bags that are sturdy, reusable, and water resistant! Perfect for camping.

 

You can grab some of these storage bags here.

 

We put everyone’s clean outfits into separate bags for each day of the trip, which makes everything super easy to organize and find. The colored zippers make it easy to separate clothes for each kid if you have more than one.

 

The best part? When the clothes get really dirty, throw them back into the zipper bag and forget about them until you get home (no stinky smells to worry about).

 

mesh bag with clothes inside

 

 

FREEZE CAPRISUN POUCHES INSTEAD OF ICE

 

When it comes to packing up your ice chest for the camping trip, try freezing a bunch of caprisun juice pouches or water bottles instead of using ice cubes. 

 

The caprisuns melt into slushy deliciousness and the water bottles will stay frozen for a long long time. Until you’re ready to melt them and drink them!

 

Frozen caprisun juice pouch

 

USE LABELS ON STORAGE BINS

 

Not everyone is as organized and anal as Monica Geller on Friends, and we get that. But labeling your gear makes life so much easier for YOU, so it’s usually worth the effort.

 

If your partner or camping companions can read, then they can probably help you find and set up the camping gear based on labeled containers.

 

We have a few plastic bins with locking lids that we use for our kitchen stuff, lighting stuff, first aid kit, and miscellaneous extras.

 

They are LABELED so they are easy to spot when you need the flashlight or the duct tape.

 

a plastic tub that has a black label that says first aid

 

USE A TOILETRY BAG WITH A HOOK

 

I swear by these toiletry bags for camping (any similar one will do). You can put all of your hygiene goods into the bag and make sure that it never touches the ground in any camp showers.

 

Hang it on the back of a door, on a shower head, on a clothesline, or on the handle of your car door to keep your bathroom stuff out of the dirt.

 

Black and pink toiletry bag

 

CAMPING WITH TODDLERS: WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU ARRIVE

 

Now let’s cover some camping hacks for your arrival.

 

As soon as you arrive and set up your tent, take a picture of your campsite and (if you have phone service) send it to a trusted family member or friend.

 

This is just a simple safety measure so that someone back home knows exactly what your location looks like.

 

Then, the fun begins! Here are some simple hacks that will make camping with a toddler much more pleasant!

 

GIVE THE KIDS AN ASSIGNMENT

 

Setting up camp usually takes a little time, and it might come with some frustration if your tent or gear starts giving you trouble.

 

Help the kids feel involved by giving them a few easy assignments as soon as you arrive.

 

Maybe they can help unload things and set them on the picnic bench or blanket. Maybe they can fill water buckets or stack wood by the fire pit. Or maybe they can set up their own camping chairs.

 

INVEST IN AN EASY-ASSEMBLE TENT

 

Now, if you’re a camping pro and you know your camping gear, this hack doesn’t really apply to you.

 

But if you’re a newbie, a busy mom, or someone that just gets aggravated very easily when things don’t flow smoothly – YOU NEED AN EASY-ASSEMBLE TENT.

 

This was an essential investment for our family because we have small kids and my husband hates hassling with camping gear.

 

To save all of our sanity, we bought this 6-person easy-assemble Coleman tent. You can seriously put this thing together in about 10 seconds, and it’s the easiest part of setting up camp.

 

Wanna make mom life easier while camping with toddlers (and spouses)?

 

Get this tent and thank me later!

 

GO OVER SAFETY RULES

 

Depending on the ages and location of your campsite, make sure everyone knows basic safety rules.

 

Wear life vests near the water. Travel in pairs. No talking to strangers, etc.

 

Whatever your group rules are – make sure everyone knows about them ahead of time.

 

SCOPE OUT THE TOILET SITUATION

 

If there are bathrooms at the camp, try getting a site that is near the bathrooms, but not so close that you can smell the bathrooms.

 

This is helpful when you have toddlers that always need to go potty at inconvenient times.

 

If you have a child that is anxious when it comes to toilets, or anyone that doesn’t like common bathrooms, consider bringing your own pop-up potty tent and commode. 

 

Seems totally weird at first, but a little private space to do your business is actually a nice luxury when you’re camping! You can use sturdy black trash bags inside the commode so that disposal is easy after going potty.

 

Also, bring YOUR OWN toilet paper and baby wipes no matter what!

 

SET UP SITE BOUNDARIES

 

If your kids are still super little, consider setting up a pack n’ play and keeping them contained when you’re setting up camp or busy with tasks.

 

But if they’re a little more independent, like my 3-year old and almost 5-year old, just set up some site boundaries that no one is allowed to cross without permission.

 

You can use colorful stakes like these, or just your own camp supplies to define the camp site boundaries.

 

PUT WATER BUCKETS OR CAMP SHOWER IN THE SUN

 

As soon as we have the camp setup, we put some water jugs or water buckets on the table to start soaking up the sun. We also put our portable camp shower in the sun so the water can start warming up.

 

We let the sun warm the water all day, and then we do evening showers before putting on our pajamas and lying down at night.

 

SET UP A WATER BUCKET NEAR THE TENT DOOR

 

If you want to limit dirt inside the tent, make sure you have a water bucket near the entrance for rinsing feet.

 

It’s also a good idea to have a floor mat outside the entrance to catch any dirt that might otherwise be tracked into the tent.

 

GET PROACTIVE ABOUT PEST CONTROL

 

As someone that gets DESTROYED by mosquitoes every time I leave the house, this one is an essential for us as soon as we arrive at our campsite.

 

First, spray a light layer of bug-deterrent essential oil blend around your tent and gear. Then place a few citronella candles or tiki torches in safe places and let them burn (while you are present only). And consider throwing a bundle of sage into the camp fire in the evening.

 

I also put deet-free Repel bug repellent on my kids as soon as we arrive, and a few drops of lavender essential oil on any areas of my open skin, which seems to help… Yes, mosquitoes love me THAT MUCH.

 

CAMPING WITH TODDLERS: WHAT TO DO AT NIGHT

 

If your toddlers are used to camping, then your evening job will be a lot easier. But if they aren’t camping pros yet, then you might have some prep work to do so that they can sleep peacefully.

 

USE SOLAR LIGHTS AROUND THE TENT

 

You can find cheap garden solar lights at the Dollar store and stake them outside your tent so that you aren’t fumbling around in the dark when you need to take your kid to the bathroom or grab something from the car.

 

You can also put these solar twinkle lights in a mason jar and place them around your camp site.

 

twinkle lights in mason jars

 

PLAN AN ‘EVENING ROUTINE’

 

You guys aren’t at home, so you aren’t going to have the exact same evening routine. But if you can create some level of comfort and normalcy for the kids, it’ll make evening time flow more smoothly.

 

Prepare the kids for the routine.

 

After playing all day and roasting marshmallows all evening, just tell them what to expect.

 

‘Okay everyone. Before bed, let’s rinse off, put our pajamas on, and read a story with our flashlights!’

 

USE A NIGHT LIGHT

 

The kids will probably need some lighting to get comfortable before falling asleep.

 

You can bring solar twinkle lights like these and stick them in a mason jar.You can also wrap a headlamp around a jug of water for some dim evening lighting.

 

Or you can use a solar night light like this (it also charges your phone)!

 

MELATONIN GUMMIES

 

If your kids are a little restless and need help falling asleep, don’t forget the Zarbee’s melatonin gummies before bed!

 

WHITE NOISE

 

My kids can’t sleep without some white noise in the background, especially when camping, so I’m always prepared for that.

 

Options:

 

Use a white noise app on your phone, and bring a solar-powered charger like this one to keep your phone charged.

 

Or bring a portable battery-powered fan like this one (we use this instead of the white noise app, to save our phone power). 

 

CAMPING WITH TODDLERS: WHAT TO DO AT MEAL TIME

 

Here are some easy camping hacks to help you keep meal time organized and stress-free!

 

BRING FOLDING HIGH CHAIRS

 

When your kids are old enough to sit at the picnic tables or in camping chairs without spilling, this won’t be necessary. 

 

But when they are high-chair age, bring easy folding mini high chairs like these ones to contain sticky kids and messes during meal time.

 

MAKE SURE ALL CUPS HAVE LIDS

 

Kids are bound to drop their water cups in the dirt, it’s gonna happen!

 

Come prepared with sippy cup lids and/or reusable water bottles with lids. Don’t let the kiddos drink out of anything that doesn’t have a closed lid (because ya know, bugs and bees).

 

MAKE EASY FOIL PACK MEALS

 

Freeze breakfast burritos or prep simple meat/veggie meals a day in advance. Wrap them in foil, and then heat them over the fire when it’s time to eat.

 

Foil pack meals are easy and relatively clean for camping, and you can mix it up with any variety of food that the kids love. 

 

potatoes and veggies in foil

 

PRE-SCRAMBLE THE EGGS

 

You’ve probably seen this hack floating around on Pinterest, but it really is a life saver if you’re a breakfast person during camping trips! 

 

My kids love eggs, so we don’t ever skip them.

 

Pre-scramble eggs for the camping trip and store them in some kind of container with a lid. We use mason jars, they are the best.

 

GAME. CHANGER.

 

mason jar with scrambled eggs inside

 

Another option: hard boil eggs for an easy snack!

 

CAMPING WITH TODDLERS: WHAT TO DO FOR CLEAN UP

 

Clean up is the one thing that most mamas dread when it comes to camping with toddlers, but these hacks will simplify the whole process for you!

 

BRING REUSABLE WATER BOTTLES

 

Minimize your trash output by bringing a refillable water bottle for everyone and a few large jugs of water.

 

No need to be running around collecting bottles or saving recyclable trash. Reusable water bottles all the way. 

 

USE A THREE-BIN SYSTEM FOR WASHING DISHES

 

We put 3 small bins on the picnic bench after meal time. Bucket one has dish soap and sponges for scrubbing the dishes. Bucket two is full of clean water for rinsing the dishes. And bucket three is empty, for drying clean dishes.

 

Disposable dishes are an option, of course. But when you’re camping with toddlers, it’s a good idea to bring STURDY plates and bowls so that you can limit spills. My kids just aren’t coordinated enough to control flimsy paper plates yet!

 

plastic bins with soap and water for cleaning dishes when camping

 

CREATE A MAKESHIFT TRASH CAN

 

Bring a cheap foldable mesh hamper (you can find them at the dollar store) and a few large black trash bags.

 

Open up the hamper, put the trash bag inside, and boom – you’ve got yourself the perfect trash can that takes up almost zero space in the camping gear!

 

Another option: use a tall laundry basket for hauling your camping gear. Once you arrive and set everything up, the laundry basket will be empty, and it can double as a trash can for the rest of the trip.

 

BRING HANDZIES SOAP AND WATER WIPES

 

When it comes to camping hygiene, we like using these soap and water wipes from Handzies for scrubbing everyone down or cleaning up sticky messes.

 

They’re super convenient for camping, for sticky kids, and for sponge baths. And they come in individually wrapped packages so that you can divide them up for each person or pack a few in your toiletry bags.

 

 

THE MOST IMPORTANT THING TO REMEMBER

 

No matter how prepared you are, you will never be prepared for everything that comes your way when camping with toddlers.

 

The goal is to plan ahead, make meal times and bed time as smooth as possible for you and the kids, and to embrace a little chaos!

 

Enjoy your camping trip!

 

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