During your pre-kid days, you may have dreamed about introducing your future family to the great outdoors and spending weekends camping over an open campfire. But when little ones are involved, it’s hard to imagine how to get out of the house for a playdate or overnight to Grandma’s let alone 24 hours in the woods.
Camping with kids is fun and rewarding, and the best part is you don’t have to worry about them being too loud and waking up hotel neighbors. Turn it into an adventure by adjusting your expectations and focusing on a fun, frugal evening outdoors in the fresh air. But a successful camping trip starts with your backpack. Here’s your essential packing list tips for camping with small kids.
Do a Test Run
The easiest way to figure out what you really need on a camping trip is to do a test run right in your backyard or nearby campground. Keep a tally of what you ended up forgetting and what you keep stepping back inside for. But it’s just as important to take inventory of what you don’t need. Less is more when it comes to camping and getting your little ones ready for an evening outdoors.
Pack for the Weather
Skip the extra clothes and leave those “just in case” items back at home unless you’re going camping for an extended period of time. Clothes can be reworn while camping, even with a little bit of s’mores smeared across the front of a shirt. Instead, pack with the weather in mind. If nights are cool and days are hot, layer up and remember to bring heavy socks and knit hats at night to keep little toes toasty warm.
Bring Creature Comforts
Although less is more when it comes to camping, bringing a few creature comforts is key to a successful overnight outdoors with kids. Pack-up ingredients to make s’mores, animal-shaped flashlights for the kids’ tents and fuzzy slippers to recreate some of the creature comforts of home. Bringing a sentimental stuffed animal or toy can also help small kids feeling homesick and uncertain about their adventure in the woods.
Make It Ridiculously Easy
Camping with small children isn’t for the faint at heart, so don’t make it any harder on your family than it needs to be. Sure, you can bring along the fishing poles with dreams of catching dinner together, but you should also pack up some protein bars and ready-to-go meals that can be quickly heated up with the help of a lighter if you can’t get a fire going yourself.
Remember the Essentials
When it comes to camping, things like toothpaste and extra water are just the start of your essentials. A pair of scissors or pocket knife can help open items, cut cords on the tent as needed or help tear through fabric to make a quick strap or rope if necessary. Bring along a first-aid kit, a charged-up device in case of an emergency and share your plans with friends or neighbors so they know when to worry if you decide to become Swiss Family Robinson.
On the road from Guadalajara, before jetting off to Puerto Vallarta, a quick stop in the ultra-local Sayula, Jalisco, was a rustic reprieve from one bustling city to another. The tiny Mexican city is primitive, historic and filled with local charm — a worthy diversion for a daytrip with the family while traveling through the area or for travelers seeking an authentic hometown Jalisco experience.
While urban wine country might sound like an oxymoron, it’s actually a reality at the stunning City Vineyard in New York City’s Tribeca neighborhood. The water-side venue is the perfect host for your next event — whatever that may be, from 20 to 200 guests and from cocktail party to plated dinner.
Not so long ago, my husband’s job required we relocate to Washington, D.C. for a full year, and the temporary move from our mountain wilderness in Colorado to the intensity of the capital city was tough for me. While immediate access to world-renowned museums, dining and cultural venues also made it fabulous in many ways, what made it most bearable for this outdoor lover were my regular forays to the United States Botanic Garden, where I could immerse myself in nature, even if just for part of an afternoon.