Heading out for a weekend family camping adventure? My family of five camps several times each summer and we thoroughly enjoy it. Camping is frugal family fun so it’s worth the effort:) You can make great lifelong memories on your family camping trip. I can help you reduce pre-trip stress by providing you with a weekend trip packing list. Scroll down for camping tips and the Camping Weekend Trip Packing List for Fun Frugal Easy Family Time.
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My family has camped together for many years starting from when my youngest son was a baby. Camping is a great frugal trip for families plus it exposes kids to new experiences and helps them relive old ones. We often camp near home because we have dogs. When we camp near home, we can run the dogs home while we go boating so they don’t have to sit in a hot tent.
Camping is also great because campgrounds are literally everywhere across the United States and many have fun amenities such as pools, playgrounds, and game rooms. Utilizing campgrounds is a great way to travel that is also frugal so you have more money for other fun activites or foods on your trip.
Camping Weekend Trip Packing List for Fun Frugal Easy Family Time
I’ve created a printable checklist which you can access below. This printable checklist will help you to reduce pre-trip stress because you can check off each item as you pack it. Plus, this weekend trip packing list will help you remember everything for a fun family camping getaway. I’ve included common foods on the lsit for camping as well, but add to it as needed to fit your own family’s needs.
When I put an actual paper list right in front of me, it helps me relax during the packing up process. With a busy family life of three boys, I find getting ready to go on a trip can be stressful so I love to have a printed list. I find it relieves stress for me when I have a list to check off as I pack. This also allows me to scan down it as we are heading out the door to make sure I’ve gotten everything. I use this list and I even write in the specific foods I need to pack from the fridge into the cooler so I don’t miss anything.
Camping prep tip: Make it easy on yourself and use a list when packing.
Specific Items I Like to Include on the Weekend Trip Packing List:
We have the cooler that keeps food cold for 5 days. It really works to keep the ice cold for that long, but we often do replenish or add to the ice to ensure the food stays cold. We don’t want to go hungry, especially not with 3 boys!!
There are many more expensive models on market, but we’ve had good success with this 5 day cooler, plus I like the smaller size because with bigger coolers, I have to dig more to get what I want. We also like the pull design, plus the wheels are an absolute must have!
We like the size of this cooler also for picnics and boating because it’s easier to maneuver around. I’d rather have several smaller coolers than one large, heavy one.
Make Cooking Easy & Fun While Camping
It’s fun to mix it up and use different types of tools for cooking while camping. It makes for a lot to pack, but the fun of it all outweighs the work to pack it! I love using different methods to cook while we are camping because it adds to the uniqueness of our trip, making it even more memorable.
For cooking while camping we utilize the bonfire, a Dutch oven, our little charcoal grill, a crockpot, a portable roaster oven, and cast iron pans.
The Dutch Oven
I love using the Dutch oven for potatoes. I like to keep it super simple and use onion soup mix, oil, and cut up potatoes in the Dutch oven. Keep in mind you need charcoal to use a Dutch oven. We have also made hash browns with peppers in our Dutch oven. We simply brought frozen hash browns and kept them in the cooler, they thaw with time which is perfect because they will cook faster and more evenly this way.
We have this Dutch oven and we’ve been happy with it.
We’ve found an extra accessory we like for our Dutch oven. This is an extra of course, and a hot pad works too, but the lifter makes removing the hot lid easier. It’s called Texsport Camp Cast Iron Dutch Oven Lid Lifter
I can’t wait to try new recipes in our Dutch oven this summer while camping!
The Little Portable Grill
We have a small little portable grill that we love to use while camping. It’s compact size fits in the van easily with all our other camping items. We use it mainly for grill meat and then we use either the bonfire, Dutch oven, crockpot, cast iron pan, or roaster oven for side dishes.
It’s nice to use a crockpot while camping because you do the prep work earlier in the day, and then just let it cook all day. By dinner time, the work is already all done!
Of course you can only do this if your campsite has power and you bring an extension cord. But, it’s worth bringing along to get variety in your meals. We like to make chili in our crockpot, one crockpot with vegetarian chili and one with meat chili. We do this because I am a vegetarian and the rest of my family eats meat:) So, yes, we use two crockpots!
We have had this crockpot for years and years. Plus, I have a smaller crockpot I use for the vegetarian chili.
Crockpot tip: Did you know you can buy replacement parts for many crockpots like new lids, ceramic cooking parts, and even knobs? Before you chuck your crockpot to the curb because you lost or broke a part of it, check to see if you can buy a replacement part. Search for it online.
Portable Roaster Oven
I love to use my portable roaster oven. I received it as a gift from my father-in-law one year. It’s fun to cook with for something different. I love to make these easy potatoes and biscuits recipe while camping. Using the roaster oven gives another way to cook food while camping. Sometimes I bring the Dutch oven and the roaster oven, but I sometimes just pick and choose which to bring based on what meals I have planned for the camping trip.
We have this one.
Cast Iron Frying Pans
Cast iron frying pans are great to use for cooking while camping for over the bonfire grill. My husband just got a new one for his birthday this year so we can’t wait to try it out on our upcoming summer camping trips. These pans are great for making eggs, french toast, pancakes, or potatoes/vegetable side dishes.
Corn Popper for Making Popcorn over the Bonfire
One of my kids’ favorite snacks while camping is popcorn. They love it when we make popcorn over the bonfire with our camping corn popper. Make sure you bring cooking oil, extra butter, salt, and a large bowl in addition to the popping corn if you plan to pop corn over your fire. We have this corn popper below.
Of course you need something to sleep in like a tent or camper. We have a giant tent from Australia. It’s rather a pain to put up, but the kids adore it because they each get their own pod to sleep in, so it’s like they have their own room in the tent. The tent has four sleeping pods plus tons of room in the center. It also has a slot for a cord to go through so we can get power in the tent (we always camp at sites with power and water).
This has been the best tent we’ve ever owned because we have been absolutely poured on in rain storms and thunderstorms and barely any water has come in. The amount of water drips that have come in has been literally miniscule. However, if the walls get saturated and someone touches them, a little water does come in this way. But, it has been a really fantastic tent in the rain.
Everyone knows the normal essentials to pack for a weekend trip like:
- cups/plates/silverware/sharp knives/napkins/bowls
- coffee maker and travel mugs
- lawn chairs
- roasting sticks for roasting marshmallows
- dog food/leashes/treates/water bowls
Here are a few extras we’ve found that make the camping experience with family even better.
Lightweight Plastic Lantern:
I love this little lightweight plastic lantern. It has a clip on the bottom so it can be hung from the top of the tent, plus it has three brightness modes including a night light mode. It’s plastic, so kids can carry it around. It is also waterproof and it floats which is perfect if you take it out on a boat. The high brightness mode is enough to really light up the whole tent. I love how compact it is and it will last up for over 250 hours on D batteries.
The other reason I love this little lantern is it works great for the kids at home when they make forts.
A Log Grabber:
A log grabber is great for building and adjusting the bonfire when needed, especially with a lit bonfire. Logs can esaily be placed in a desired location in a blazing fire with this tool. We love this log grabber, and we let our older boys use it with supervision near flames.
This is great for bonfires in our backyard at home too.
This headlamp is great for when you need to see in the dark, but you don’t have a hand to hold a flashlight (or you don’t want to hold one). It’s nice because it is also waterproof so if it rains, you can still wear it.
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Extendable Tree Saw:
This comes in handy if you need to trim any branches at your campsite, either to get your tent to fit, or for any reason you need to trim over your head.
Great for at home use when you need to trim trees or tall bushes (so not just for camping:). I love it when something has dual uses!
I love the air mattresses with the built in pumps, however, our pump is still working so when we needed new air mattresses last summer for camping, I bought these air mattresses without built-in pumps. The nice part is, they are cheaper, though I do love the idea of a built-in pump because it’s one less thing to pack.
Our oldest has had a hard time sleeping on air mattresses, so we got him a taller one. This one below has improved his ability to sleep on camping trips.
We also have these shorter air mattresses and they’ve worked great both for camping and sleepovers, plus the price was right!
Fun Easy Games:
We love to bring games along to play while camping. Our family favorites include Apples to Apples, Jenga, Old Maid, Uno, spoons, and Yahtzee. We’ve had many laughs together playing Apples to Apples and I love how it spans the ages of my kids and keeps all three of them interested. Plus, my husband and I enjoy playing it too.
We play the Junior version so all my kids know the words (there is also a 12 years and older version).
We also bring along bocce ball, frisbees, footballs, soccer balls, and bikes for entertainment. I allow them to do some screen time for relaxing as well, so we bring the DVD player and they bring iPads/phones. All these are great for when it’s raining out too.
I hope my tips will help you have fun on your next camping trip! Camping creates great lifelong family memories, plus it’s a frugal way to spend family time together in a weekend getaway.
I hope this Camping Weekend Trip Packing List for Fun Frugal Easy Family Time is helpful to you! Add your favorite campgrounds in the comments;)
Looking for more camping tips? Check out my post with 20 Things to Make Camping with a Family Easier.
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