My family of five enjoys going camping, however, this mama doesn’t want to rough it; so I’m sharing my list of 20 things that make family camping easier to help my fellow moms. Camping is a lot of work, so when I can bring items that make camping easier, the whole camping experience is more fun.
I like electricity and running water at my campsite even though we camp in a tent, plus I require a working bathroom near the campsite. We pick a campsite close to the park as well so it’s easy to buzz over with the kids or send them over if a big kid goes along to supervise.
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My kids love camping and they look forward to it each year. It is a lot of work to plan meals, shop, pack, set up camp, cook meals and clean up, and tear down camp. So, we make it a group effort.
We have our kids help set up our tent. Our tent is a big sixteen-person tent from Australia, with sleeping pods to sleep in so it’s like four mini tents inside the big tent. This is nice for privacy desiring teens and tweens and just to give all kids a separate place to hang out that is all their own (helps reduce sibling spats if they can go to their own pod for alone time). It’s like they have their own rooms:)
List of 20 Things Make Family Camping Easier, Based on This Mama’s Experience:
1). I bring along an extension cord and a power strip.
Having power makes life more pleasant for our family when camping because we can plug in things. I agree with the idea camping is supposed to be unplugged; however, we do make some exceptions for electric items such as the coffee pot for the morning brew, a crockpot, a fan to keep cool in the heat, and charger cords to charge phones/camera batteries and other electronics like the portable DVD player (in case we are stuck in the tent due to rain). I’ve even brought a roaster oven camping to mix up the cooking methods.
We are in the age of electronics, so to give the kids down time, we allow them to do some electronics or a movie on the DVD player each day or before bed. Electronics also come in handy if it’s raining; plus they are great for breaks in between card and board games. We string the long extension cord to the tent, and put the power strip inside to allow for power inside the tent. Our tent has a covered hole for just this purpose, however, I’m sure it could be strung through a tent door.
Looking for more camping tips? Read this post about Tips and a Camping Weekend Trip Packing List for Fun Frugal Easy Family Time
2). Cots are a great way to elevate suitcases and keep them off the tent floor in case of rain.
We bring two cots to place our suitcases on and bags of food in case the rain comes in hard and the floor gets wet. Our tent is very waterproof in the rain, but during hard rains touching the sides of the tent and occasionally the floor brings some water seeping in. Having the suitcases and food off the floor ensures they will stay dry, plus it serves as a place to organize suitcases in the tent.
3). Bring along extra vessels for cooking food.
We have a family of five, so the small charcoal grill we bring along doesn’t have enough room for food for a whole meal for all of us. To fix this problem, I bring along a roaster oven and a Dutch oven to cook biscuits or food in. A crockpot is also an idea to bring along to cook extra food in. (Or, the grill of the bonfire works too, especially if you clean it off.)
Some families have outdoor camping burners, but we do not, so I utilize what we do have in bringing our roaster oven and crockpot. We often string the cord to the screen tent during rain to keep the roaster oven or crockpot still cooking, but out of the rain on rainy days.
Dutch Oven Tip: Don’t forget to bring extra charcoal for the Dutch oven:)
4). I use paper products and plastic silverware.
I’m very environmentally conscious and I recycle everything I can, but when camping, I use paper plates and silverware to cut down on the washing of dishes when neither a sink or hot water is readily available. I could heat up water over the bonfire to wash dishes, but that makes more work which defeats my purpose of trying to make camping with my family easier. We often burn the plates in the bonfire to cut down on garbage.
I recently have heard about plastic silverware that biodegrades. I want to try these products out. I’ve found two I plan to try this summer while we camp. Check back for my review comparing the two. I’m excited to try them out, plus I’m happy to say, they are non-toxic and eco-friendly.
Disposable Wooden Cutlery set by Bamboodlers | 100% All-Natural, Eco-Friendly, Biodegradable, and Compostable – Because Earth is Awesome! Pack of 200- 6.5” utensils (100 forks, 50 spoons, 50 knives)
100% Compostable Disposable Forks Spoons and Knives 380 Biodegradable Cutlery Combo Set – 380 Large Utensils (7 in.) EcoFriendly Durable and Heat Resistant with Convenient Tray by Ecovita
5). I bring a spray bottle filled with soap and water plus a large bowl or basin to wash dishes in.
I load a spray bottle with water and dish soap so I can easily spray dishes for washing. The dish soap spray can also be used to wash down the campsite picnic table or any other messes. Having the soap and water in a spray bottle is very convenient for washing dishes. Bringing along a large bowl or bin is helpful for washing dishes too.
6). I bring sealed bins for storage.
Bring a sealed bin to keep paper products (plates, napkins, paper towel) and silverware in so they can be kept outside yet water and bugs won’t be able to get inside. Sealed bins are also great for food, utensils, bug spray, sunscreen, and lighters to keep them away from rain.
Bins are also great to keep games dry. I also love how bins make packing and unpacking easier while camping.
7). I like to bring tin foil for wrapping food in to cook over the grill.
We love to cook corn, potatoes, or bread ( and bannock bread) in tin foil over the bonfire grate as well. Tin foil works great for this purpose, plus it can be used to cover or seal food containers. To melt butter if needed for popcorn or a recipe, wrapping it in tin foil and setting it on the bonfire grate works perfectly.
8). Large sealable bags make camping easier.
Large sealable bags come in handy because leftover food can be placed in the bags. I also like to place ice in sealable bags within the cooler to keep all the containers and food from getting soaked from melted ice. We have a five-day cooler so ice stays frozen for the most part, but it does melt some each day so we need to keep adding ice daily.
Sealed bags are also great for extra protection for phones and cameras when rain comes. Sealable bags work great for marinating meat or vegetables as well.
9). Food in plastic containers makes camping easier.
I bring a quart size plastic milk jug rather than a paper carton so in case the ice melts, the milk will be protected in a plastic jug rather than a paper one. I’ve found paper cartons will start to break down in water rather quickly.
Plastic containers that fully seal can protect food from water resulting from ice melt. This is especially true for sticks of butter and cheese.
10). Extra blankets are always important to bring in case it gets colder at night than expected.
Tossing a few extra blankets in the car is worth it because it’s awful and very sleep interrupting to be freezing in the tent all night. Beach towels can work in a pinch if more blankets are needed.
I bring extra blankets for our dogs to lay on inside the tent also so they can be more comfortable, though they really do love to lay on air mattresses too (I need to get them their own air mattress next year).
11). Premade dishes make camping easier.
Premade foods such as pasta salads, potato salads, or muffins make meal prep easier.
12). Bringing prewashed fruits and veggies makes camping easier.
I love to make meals and snacks easy by bringing prewashed fruit and veggies in sealed containers. This is easier than trying to wash them at the campsite from the spout, especially is the water spout is a strong spray. This works great for grapes, apples, carrots, celery, cauliflower, and broccoli. The fruits and veggies can be washed at the campsite too, but it makes meal prep so much easier if they are washed at home before the camping trip.
13). I bring a cutting board and several sharp knives for cutting food.
Bringing a cutting board along also makes cutting cheese from a block easy. Packing a cutting board also makes cutting grilled meats easier as well. Plus, a cutting board can serve as a serving tray for food and snacks as well. I’ve tried cutting on a paper plate, but a cutting board is just more convenient and user-friendly than cutting on a paper plates.
14). I pack washable coffee mugs and cups, one per person, and wash them daily.
Washable coffee mugs can be used for coffee or other beverages. Plus, they keep warm drinks warm and cold drinks cold which is perfect and desired while camping. I simply spray them with the water bottle filled with dish soap and water, wipe, and rinse to clean them.
We have these two brands of cups. We’ve been happy with both products.
15). Individual juice bottles make mornings easier and this cuts down on dish washing that I need to do.
Having individual bottles cuts down on having cups to wash. Then, we can recycle the bottles (bring extra bags so they can be designated as for recycle or for garbage).
16). Slip on shoes are great for easy on and off shoes when going into and out of the tent frequently.
We try to not wear shoes in the tent to keep it cleaner inside. I like to bring slip on shoes for all of us in case the tennis shoes get left out of the tent overnight and the rain comes. This has happened to us;)
I love my Crocs® for camping! These are the best shoes for camping because they are easily cleaned and dry quickly. This is a major bonus if kids, or adults, end up trekking through mud or wet grass.
17). Bring paper to help start bonfires.
We bring newspapers to help start fires in the bonfire ring. My kids love to bring some homework from school to burn to celebrate the return of summer (they really love doing this especially with homework from their least favorite subject). Everyone could go searching for sticks, but if it has rained recently, the sticks may be all wet. Bringing paper fixes this potential problem.
18). Flint and steel to help with starting fires because not only is it fun, it is a great backup for if the lighter runs out of juice.
Kids enjoy watching someone start a bonfire using the flint and steel because it is something different than an ordinary match or lighter.
19). Over the fire cooking utensils and accesories are super fun and easy to use while camping.
We bring along a popcorn popper and roasting sticks for bonfire cooking. My family loves to roast marshmallows and make bannock bread over the fire for snacks. A large bowl works great as a popcorn bowl so be sure to bring a large bowl or use your wash basin for popcorn.
20). Bring extra water in jugs with a spout when camping for easy access to water.
I bring along a large water jug with a spout to keep on the picnic table for easy cup filling and coffee pot filling. I buy the rectangle shaped water jug with a spout at Walmart.
I hope you find my list of 20 things to help make your family camping trip easier useful. Camping is a wonderful way to make lasting family memories. I sincerely hope your family enjoys your next camping adventure!
Copyright © 2017 Julie Hoag. All Rights Reserved.
Post updated 4/7/2018.
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