If there is one thing that is never stress-free, it’s a family vacation when you have younger children. It’s not that they are any more difficult than they usually are, but being somewhere else at a different temperature and trying to keep them entertained is not easy! For parents, especially, a vacation with kids is not a vacation: it’s the same stuff you do every day in a new place, sprinkled with a few new activities on top. When you choose to go camping, you are going to be torn between whether this was a good idea or whether you just sealed your fate with more stress.
The problems usually begin with family camping when you start packing in the car with coolers, tents, sleeping bags, meds kits, and more. You can end up feeling more and more stressed with the idea of going before you’ve even left the house! The thing is, there are so many ways that you can make camping a stress-free, fun-filled experience for the whole family – yes, even you! Sure, you can still pack in the portable gazebo onto the roof rack of the car and you can still hit the stores on the way and buy the BBQ basics. You can still plan for ‘smores and campfire songs and water-based activities. But more than anything, you need to make your camping trip as easy as possible. Here are some of the tips you need to ensure that your trip is stress-free:
1.Don’t go on a massive road trip. If you’re already going to find packing for camping with kids around stressful, then the last thing you should do is take a longer road trip further afield. You don’t have to stress yourself out by adding a long road trip to the list of things that a camping trip is going to put onto you. Make a point of checking out the campsites that are more local to you and you’ll be able to go camping more often – and you’ll find it more fun, too.
2. Don’t go for too long. If it was a group of adults, I’d suggest that a week-long camping trip isn’t too bad an idea. With kids? Well, you need to fill the days and have fun, and you can have a lot less stress and a lot more fun when you only go for a couple of nights.
3. Try not to overpack. It’s very tempting as a parent to pack the car to the roof and bring more than you need, but really, it’s not this week that you’re going to use ten sets of shorts when you’re only going away for three nights. Camping is supposed to be simple and if you forget something you can live without it for a night. Stop in a supermarket on the way for simple foods you can cook up over the fire, and you can bring a cooler for drinks!
4. Choose activities that are gearless. From hiking the trails to jumping into the local swimming hole, spotting wildlife, and climbing trees, there is plenty that you can do that doesn’t mean that you have to spend a ton of money on equipment and camping gear. Taking the time to research what you need is a good idea!
5. Bring the medkit. You need to ensure that you have a well-stocked first-aid kit in the car, whether in the trunk or the glove compartment, you need to make sure that you have everything you need in case of bites, stings, and cuts. You will be more than equipped just in case, and when you have kids, “just in case” is a good thing to plan for.
6. Bring friends and family. One of the best things that you can do to make your trip work for you is co-op your camping. Grab some friends and relatives and meet up at an agreed campsite. You can all bring food, and you can take turns choosing the camping spot, too. You can have so much fun and the more adults you have, the less stressed you’ll be as it’ll feel more like an “all hands on deck” situation and you won’t be alone!
7. Give the kids something to be responsible for. Whether it’s someone in charge of filling water bottles or you give a child the task of counting the backpacks, let them feel like they are having a chance at being a leader. Children respond to being given tasks, so why not do that?
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This article is written by a contributing author.
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