When you think of family camping trips, perhaps the first image that comes to mind is of tents and hiking trails and smores over an open fire. But, family camping doesn’t have to be quite so rugged! You can still enjoy nature while keeping things nice and comfortable – no sleeping on the ground required! From scheduling your trip to packing the right supplies, here are ten tips to help you plan your next mindful family camping trip.
1) Research your campsite
Make sure your campsite has enough wood for at least three nights. If you’re car camping, it’s best to be prepared in case you get stuck in traffic or something else causes a delay and makes you late for check-in time. Have a backup plan ready just in case! If you can, arrive early to find a good spot.
Make sure there are bathrooms nearby, but also ask about quiet hours so that your campsite doesn’t disrupt any other campers’ experience. Tell someone where you’ll be going and make sure they know when they should expect to hear from you again. No one wants to go on an adventure without telling anyone where they’re going!
2) Talk to your family about what they want in a camping trip
Because you’re reading an article about mindful family camping trips, it’s safe to assume you’re trying to plan a fun trip for your kids and/or significant other. Before you do anything else, figure out what that is. Do they want to hike? Are they more into fishing or biking? Find some common ground and build from there.
3) Consider the benefits of traveling with a pet
Pets are part of our families and they can become great camping companions. However, make sure you plan ahead because traveling with pets can be stressful. If you’re planning a cross-country trip, it’s important to consider your pet’s well-being.
PetMD suggests visiting a veterinarian before hitting the road to make sure your pets receive all necessary vaccines and that they are equipped with identification tags and microchips in case they run away from home or get lost. Don’t forget to pack some toys for playtime on long drives and waterproof supplies for outdoor activities like hiking.
4) Travel as light as possible
When you are camping for an extended period of time, it is best to travel as light as possible. Bring only what you truly need, and leave behind what won’t be useful or even necessary. This will keep your pack from getting too heavy, which can lead to a lot of pain while hiking or carrying gear on long hikes.
Leave room in your pack for some lightweight extras that are nice to have when you’re camping out such as cooking utensils, extra clothes, or a jacket if there’s a possibility of weather changes during your trip. Many campgrounds now have laundry facilities that also sell things like toothpaste and hand sanitizer for use during your stay so make sure to bring a little cash so that you can take advantage of these conveniences.
5) Pack efficiently but be open minded on what you need to bring
The amount of stuff you bring on a camping trip will depend largely on how long you’re staying and how prepared you are. But one item that is a must for every trip is a first aid kit. Most experts recommend packing at least one per group of 4–6 people, so if there are 2 adults, 2 kids, and 2 dogs in your party (yes, bring your dog) it’s important to pack at least two kits.
This way both adults can be tending to injuries or sicknesses while also keeping an eye out for anything else that needs attention while they attend to their immediate health concerns.
6) Take breaks while hiking
It’s difficult to overstate just how important it is to slow down and give your body a rest when you spend hours hiking every day. Your cardiovascular system will be taxed, your muscles will be sore, and your body temperature will increase from carrying backpacks. These conditions can lead to dehydration, heat exhaustion, and other health problems.
To combat these issues, take frequent breaks (at least 15 minutes for every hour on trail) and carry at least one liter of water with you in each backpack. Also remember that being active in hot weather requires extra hydration; bring more water than you expect to drink if you’re sweating heavily or hiking at higher elevations.
7) Go on night hikes
Most campsites have trails to explore after dark. These are perfect for experiencing your natural surroundings at their most ethereal. It’s a great time to reflect on how lucky you are to be spending quality time with your family and what a privilege it is to be able to camp in such beautiful surroundings.
Pack up some hot cocoa and blankets, or bring along a kite, and enjoy star-gazing by moonlight! If you prefer not to hike at night, take an evening stroll after dinner around your campsite before heading back to your tent for the evening. This is a great opportunity for some relaxing conversation about your day’s adventures!
8) Check out local museums and other attractions before you leave
While camping can be a great way to spend time with your family, it can also be a fun way to expose them to things they might not have had an opportunity to do otherwise. Have you been meaning to go hiking? How about checking out some local wildlife? Your kids might even discover something that they’re passionate about and want to try when you’re back at home! Before hitting up your campsite, make sure that everyone knows what your plans are for before and after so there aren’t any surprises on site.
9) Be aware of your surroundings at all times
Since you will be out in nature, it is important to stay aware of your surroundings at all times. Make sure you and your family do not get too far away from each other and always know what everyone else is doing. When you are with your family in a park or forest make sure to tell them if they should run into a stranger or if they see something that doesn’t seem right to stay near you until they get back to safety.
The last thing you want is for someone in your group to get lost! It’s also smart to make a family meeting place, so no one gets lost.
10) Don’t forget the marshmallows!
Kids love to get their hands on marshmallows, because they’re incredibly fun to play with. But don’t forget how easy it is for them to quickly turn into a sticky mess that requires you to get out of your cozy tent early in order to scrub it off your camping gear.
To avoid those kinds of camping mishaps, simply offer up a fun game of catch or flashlight tag instead. You can also make s’mores at home and bring them with you as part of your campfire tradition. Avoid breakable plastic or glass dishes by packing an old tin or disposable aluminum pan with pre-made s’mores supplies: graham crackers, chocolate bars, and an entire bag (or box) of marshmallows.
The goal of mindful family camping is to enjoy and appreciate nature, appreciate our time with each other and reduce our impact in a way that gives something back. By implementing some or all of these tips on your next adventure, you’ll discover how easy it is to create life-long memories with your loved ones while protecting and preserving nature at the same time. Who doesn’t want to see more smiles? Start packing those bags!