Perhaps there is no greater family-bonding experience than roughing it together in the great outdoors. Camping as a family not only builds lifelong memories – it gives the modern tech-obsessed kids a chance to enjoy nature up close and personal. Picking an awesome campsite is the easy part – it’s the preparation and planning that may take a little more time than a quick Google search. Here are 10 tips to help you create one of the best family vacations of a lifetime.
Family Pow Wow
Before you pack a single item – gather the family around for a pre-vacation pow wow session. Talk about the sites you are planning to see – view destination pics on the internet to increase anticipation and excitement. Set the ground rules now for all handheld games, iPads, etc. so there are no arguments once you get on the road. Ask them to make a wish list of the top 5 things they would most like to do and see during the trip – then cull them together and pick a couple from everyone’s favorites. “Can’t Leave Home Without” Checklist
The last thing you want to do is find yourself in the middle of nowhere without all the necessary essentials. Make a master “must have” checklist and post it on the fridge. Make a copy for all kids who can read and assign them specific duties they can check off when completed. Check and double-check your list before the ignition goes on and the garage door goes down! Pre-plan Easy Meals
One word you want to keep in mind for food prep is “simplify”. Obviously hot dogs and s’mores are fun for a meal or two – but the more you prepare in advance, the more time you will have for fun activities. For example, pre-marinate fajita meat and store in freezer bags for fun burrito night or skillet scramble breakfasts. Don’t Forget the Fun Stuff
As you know, the younger the child the shorter the attention span. Nature hikes, waterfalls and campfire sing-a-longs are awesome for a while, but even in the midst of the coolest campsite on earth – kids can short-out and use the “B” word … the dreaded “I’m bored” syndrome. Pack plenty of outdoor games like Frisbee, ring-toss, etc. – as well as after dark activities like playing cards and board games. Safety First
Don’t forget to bring a First Aid Kit! Make sure it is amply stocked with Band-Aids, bug and sunburn spray, tweezers for nasty splinters, ibuprofen and antiseptic for minor cuts. Fresh Drinking Water
Campground water may be suitable for showering – but most likely your kids will not want to drink it! Pack plenty of FIJI Water
to keep your family thoroughly hydrated – especially during long nature hikes and outdoor fun in the sun. Fire and Light
Oops! Unless you are Eagle Scout – you may have a difficult time getting the campfire going if you left the matches at home. Don’t forget to pack your lighter – and bring a box of matches just in case you run out of butane. Hand-held flashlights are fun for the kids – but experienced campers know that a headlamp is a must in the wild. A headlamp keeps your hands free for nighttime chores such as chopping wood or pitching a tent. Sanitizer and Wipes
Trees, trails and chasing fireflies will definitely leave little hands needing a good cleaning before dinner time. Bring plenty of waterless hand sanitizer for pre-meal clean up time. Stock up on wet wipes for occasional spills and daily freshen-ups. TP and Paper Towels
Whether you vacation at campgrounds with shower and toilet provisions or are really roughing it – you don’t want to leave home without plenty of toilet paper. That is one area of the “outdoor experience” that needs a little indoor TLC. Paper towels are a must for every outing and make a great back-up if you run out of wipes or TP. Sleepy Time
If you have a difficult time getting the kids to sleep at home – just think about how tough it can be if you are tucking them in to a sleeping bag on the cold, hard ground! This is the best time to use that inflatable mattress-in-a-bag. Just a few inches of cushion between their bums and the unforgiving earth can make a huge difference for a good night’s sleep and enjoyable camping experience for the whole family.