Everything You Need to Know About Car Camping With Kids

car camping

Car camping is an activity for which everything fits into your car and during which you experience the outdoors. It’s a simple way to connect with the world around you as well as your family. It is never too early to take your relatives on this type of adventure.

Car camping is a great way for you and your family to spend some quality time together with minimal hassle. You will find that it can bring you closer as a family if you allow it. Here is everything you need to know to make your car camping adventures as smooth as possible.


Tips for Car Camping With Kids

If you are a parent wanting to take your kids on a car camping trip, you may already know some tips and tricks, but as we know, the more, the better. Having fresh ideas can help you and your kids shake things up. After all, knowledge is power, especially as a parent.

Pick the Right Vehicle

You first want to pick the right vehicle for a car camping trip. You want something that will not only fit the whole family but also the equipment needed for the trip. Many crossovers and SUVs are popular when going on such a trip.

Think about using a truck if you have one. The bed of the truck can make for a great alternative place for sleeping. You can create a makeshift tent in the back or buy one that is easily set up in the back of a truck. Trucks also can carry more equipment for the trip.

Make a Checklist

Making a checklist is always a great idea, especially when you have kids accompanying you. Indeed, in this case, you are not responsible for just yourself but also others, and a checklist can keep all you need in order and avoid forgetting anything. You may consider packing:

  • A grocery list
  • Meals
  • Camping gear
  • First-aid items
  • Essentials
  • Clothes
  • Personal items
  • Safety gear

You may find the lists that you want to create. Go crazy with them! You don’t want to find yourself in the middle of the woods without all the equipment and gear you wanted with you. It could put a damper on your festivities.

Pack Early

Packing last minute can lead to a bad experience on your trip, especially if you forget to bring something imperative for the trip. On the other hand, packing early can help you reduce the chances of forgetting an important item.

Doing so is great for the family as well. It allows you ample time to double-check if your children have packed everything they need. You won’t have to slam everything into a few days or the day before you leave, which lowers stress tremendously.

Camp with Friends who also have Kids

Camping can be fun with friends, but when you have kids, it is even better. Your kids will have friends to play with and keep them distracted when you and your friends want to sit back to relax. It is always great to have the extra distraction and helping hands.

Remember to get some alone time from each other, though. As nice as having friends join you on a trip, prolonged exposure can irritate everyone.

Split the Chores

Make sure you split the chores between the kids and that each child is responsible for age-appropriate chores. Do this at the beginning of the trip, so there are no misunderstandings. This will also help them gain responsibility for their assignments.

Having the kids help around also involves them in the process of camping. It will make them feel like they are helping and contributing to the adventure. It also keeps them in some sort of routine and helps them understand their responsibilities.

Figure Out What You Will Be Eating

If you figure out what you are eating, it can help cut the downtime at the stores before camping and make things easier on everyone. You can meal plan and get everyone to chip in on what they want to eat for the entirety of the trip.

Make sure your meals aren’t too fancy. It should be easy and simple to make. You also want the meals to have some similar ingredients, so you aren’t lugging around hundreds of different types of foods to prepare all the meals.

If you aren’t much of a planner, get an idea of most of the foods you will eat. It can be as simple as eating sandwiches for lunch each day, and you can make hot dogs over the fire for dinner. Do what you think will work for the family.

Finally, you can pack snacks to make your life a little simpler. Snacks don’t have to be chips and crackers, as fruits and veggies are easy to grab and go as well. Remember, you decide what to bring, and you will want to bring food that everyone will eat.

Plan Activities

Even if you don’t have activities completely planned out, have some in mind. Although you don’t have to make an itinerary for the entire trip, there are so many activities you can do while camping. Keeping the kids busy will only be better for you and keep the children from destructive boredom.

Here are some of the many outdoor activities that you can choose from that many children and teenagers will enjoy:

  • Hiking
  • Canoeing
  • Floating down the river
  • Swimming
  • Fishing
  • Birdwatching
  • Scavenger hunting
  • Fossil hunting
  • Horseback riding
  • Ziplining
  • Rock climbing
  • Bike riding
  • Learn survival skills

As you go, you’ll also realize that you can find some more relaxing activities that you can do around the campsite.

Expect Changes

Don’t think that everything you scheduled will go as planned. If you are an experienced parent, you know that plans can change in a matter of seconds. You will find that sometimes, your plans will have to change until you have no control over them.

Be flexible with your schedule and don’t have anything set in stone. Although it is great to have a plan when you go camping, remember that this is a vacation and that it is meant to be fun and relaxing.

If you find yourself more stressed trying to make all these plans, maybe leave some days open. You guys can decide, as a family, what you would like to do at that point. Sometimes, going with the flow may be the best plan.

Make sure to have some alternative gadgets and games to distract the children if you have downtime. For example, it is always good to have a deck of cards or dice on hand to play some games when hitting a slump.

Pack Their Favorite Toy

You should always pack young children’s favorite toys. This not only gives them a distraction when they are less busy but also makes them comfortable in a new environment. Kids attach security to their toys, and so it would be great to have at least one toy, if not more.

Pack the Right Gear

Make sure you pack all the right gear. If you have a toddler, you may want to bring a playpen or something that will contain them when you are busy with other things. If you have a baby, bring something to carry them as you don’t want to hold them in your arms the entire time.

You do not want to head out without the proper gear as, without it, you may find that your experience is more troublesome than relaxing and you don’t want that. Plus, having the right gear means having the safest trip.

Look for Teaching Moments

When faced with an obstacle or mistake, don’t yell or get angry with your children. Use this instant as a teaching moment to learn the better or appropriate way of doing things. Try to reiterate any important information. Your children won’t remember much on the first try.

Be Safe

Always be safe when camping. Try to take all the necessary precautions. You will want to make sure that your children understand how to handle sharp objects and not hurt themselves and others.

You may also want to research the area you are going to for any of the following things:

  • Poisonous local plants
  • Natural predators
  • Poisonous snakes and other animals
  • Dangerous locations, like cliffs, rapids, etc.
  • Swimming safety
  • What to do when lost

Teach them the necessary skills to survive or to help them if they are lost. Having this knowledge can help them if they ever find themselves in unknown territory. It can also be the difference between them finding the campsite quickly or being lost for days.


Best Kid-friendly Camping Food

Food is a big deal for kids and can be a bit of a hassle. Here are some foods that are great for all ages, and are easy to make and tasty.


It is not a real camping trip without the classic s’mores. With the creamy marshmallows and melted chocolate between two graham crackers, you can’t go wrong. You should plan for at least one night of this yummy snack. It’s also quite easy to pack.

Foiled-wrapped Potatoes

Foiled-wrapped potatoes are great for camping because you can make these with the campfire. You only have to wrap your potatoes and throw them in the fire. Once the spuds are done cooking, just pile on your toppings, and dinner is served.

Baked potatoes can be individualized by your choice of toppings, such as:

  • Sour cream
  • Cheese (so many kinds)
  • Bacon bits
  • Ham
  • Chives
  • Onions
  • Chili

Whatever you and your kids want, the possibilities are endless!

Breakfast Sandwiches

You can make these before or during your trip. Breakfast sandwiches are great for when you are on the go. If you decide to engage in an activity like hiking, you can cook a breakfast sandwich at the beginning of your walk.

Plus, breakfast sandwiches can be customized to each individual, whether you want cheese, tomatoes, avocado, eggs, breakfast meat, and more. You can make it simple or even complex. Either way, it is a delicious way to start your morning.

Cinnamon Roll-ups

These are a great way to make a can of cinnamon rolls when you don’t have an oven. Just wrap these around a hot dog stick and cook them over the fire. Then, you can spread the icing and munch on it as you get ready for the day’s activities.

Pre-made Yogurt Parfaits

If you are looking for something a little healthier that provides great nutrients and vitamins, you can make some pre-made yogurt parfaits. Grab yourself a few glass jars and have everyone put in what they want: granola, fruits, or cookie crumbles, to name a few.

Store these in your cooler, and pull them out for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. They make for a great snack, and can even be transported on a hike, when going swimming, or while partaking in other events you may have planned.

The Classics

Finally, you can never go wrong with classic options when you go camping. Kids love the simplicity of these, and they can be quite easy to prepare. Here are some of the classicsOpens in a new tab. you can make while camping:

  • Hot dogs and chips
  • Sandwiches
  • Chili
  • Hobo pies
  • Chili Frito pie
  • Pancakes
  • Cornbread
  • Grilled cheese sandwiches
  • French toast sticks


What Is a Good Age to Take a Child Camping?

It is never too early to start camping with your children. You can begin when they are a baby or wait until they are a little older. It all depends on where you are camping and what equipment you bring with you.

With younger children, you will want to camp in areas where there aren’t many dangers they may wander off into. Toddlers and young children are naturally curious, which is a wonderful trait, but could get them lost or into some serious trouble.

With older children, you will find that you can try more difficult terrains. You decide what level of terrain they are prepared for and make sure to remain safe and well-informed. Your children will surprise you with their intuition and knowledge.



If you’re looking for an outdoor activity that you can enjoy with your kids, why not give camping a try? Camping allows you to take a break from your busy everyday life and enjoy the great outdoors while bonding with your family. There are many types of camping, but since you’ll be going on this trip with kids, car camping will be perfect for your family.  

Going on a car camping trip with your children doesn’t have to be a daunting task. You can enjoy spending time with them while teaching them new life skills. It can be fun for everyone. Just make sure you and your family are prepared, and relax. It will be fun!

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