Tips and ideas for tent camping with kids

Tips & ideas for (family) TENT CAMPING | everything you need to know about camping with a tent

Katja ADVICE & TIPS, CAMPING, TIPS Leave a Comment

Holidays ín the great outdoors are a good counterweight to our everyday busy city life. Also for us. On camping holidays and trips we spend the whole day outside on fresh air, surrounded by nature offering us endless possibilities for different activities. The usage of electronic devices drops to an absolute minimum, you and your kids make a bunch of new friends, you grow closer as a family and learn to enjoy the little, non-material things. This post is for everyone who is going camping for the first time, as well as for experienced campers – maybe you get new ideas. I´ve written about the following topics: how to choose and buy the right tent, camping equipment (sleeping, cooking, free time, personal hygiene & wardrobe and other useful things), camping with kids, wild camping, choosing your destination, packing, choosing the best place to set up your tent, safety & dangers and what to do when you return home.

CHOOSING & BUYING A TENT


Choosing the right tent can be a challenging and a very important task. If this will be the FIRST TIME YOU GO TENT CAMPING I suggest you borrow one from your friends if possible and test it out on a weekend camping trip. This might give you a better understanding of what you need. BEFORE BUYING A TENT YOU CAN ALSO ASK YOURSELVES THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS:

  • how many persons will sleep in the tent

  • is it important for you that you are able to stand in the tent

  • if camping with kids – would you want to sleep in the same „room“, or you prefer separate spaces or maybe even two smaller tents

  • will you be staying at the same campsite for a longer period of time (a larger, more comfortable tent makes sense) or do you prefer to switch locations every few days (keep it easy and buy a smaller tent, which is easy to set up)

  • where and when will you mostly be camping (in the mountains, at the sea, in the winter or in the summer – the tent material will depend on this)

Once you´ve got the answers to these questions you can do a research online and visit a camping store to get more professional advice.

WHAT ELSE SHOULD YOU CONSIDER WHEN CHOOSING A TENT?
No matter how long, where and with whom you go camping, you might want to consider the following:
– how difficult is it to set it up (before you drive off on your first trip you should definitely set up the tent at home and master the technique)
– is the tent waterproof (important in case of heavy rains and storms)
– the stability of the tent (in case of strong winds)
– air circulation (in the summer it can get very hot and you might not find a spot in the shade so it is important how many openings there are in the tent for the air to circulate)
– shape and size of the tent when not in use (this is especially important if you have a small car or you wish to carry the tent on a plane, are travelling on bicycles or on foot – here, also weight matters)

For the past years we are using the Quecha 3 Man Pop-Up Blackout Tent – 2 seconds (for 3 persons) and are very satisfied with it. It is comfortable enough for 2 adults and 1 child, very easy to set up, it is black on the inside which protects us from the morning light, it is airy and endurable. When not in use it is folded into a circular shape (weight 4,2kg) – we also go on camping trips with our VW Golf and we easily store the tent & other equipment at the back of the car. Price = around 90€

Družinsko kampiranje kam kako in zakaj kamp šotor

CAMPING EQUIPMENT


Besides the tent you will need more camping equipment. What and how much of it you will need really depends on each individual – how much comfort you are used to, what´s your price range, where and with whom will you be camping and many other things. I´m sure you will forget some things at home and also bring some which you will never use (especially on your first camping trip). I´m adding a LONG LIST OF THINGS YOU MIGHT NEED ON A TENT CAMPING TRIP – for better understanding I´ve divided them into categories.

SLEEPING
Sleeping in a tent can be a lot of fun, especially for the kids. To ensure your (first) camping experience will be the best possible and your stay comfortable don´t forget the following:
  • (waterproof) TENT, good quality STAKES (there are different types, depending on the surface you are camping on) and a HAMMER (if you forget it, find a bigger stone)

  • SLEEPING PAD (we are using the self-inflating Thermarest, which are rolled up when not in use, but you can also take a yoga mat or any other type of travel mattresses.)

  • SLEEPING BAG (choosing one depends on the temperatures you will be using it for. You can also opt for a very light, silk one. There are also sleeping bags for couples where you buy a left and a right one and zip them together), or OTHER COVERS (if it is really warm, we prefer thing sheets or a lighter bedding)

  • comfortable PILLOW from home or a TRAVEL PILLOW which you can inflate

  • TRAVEL HAMMOCK (for an afternoon snooze and rest)

INSIDE THE TENT
I don´t know how your tents look like on the inside, but we´ve had a major chaos at our first camping trips with Lu. Eventually we found a system to help us organise our belongings. Here´s what we use:
  • „PACKING CUBES“ (in different colors, each has its own and we always know aht is in them. We also roll our clothes – they wrinkle less and we find what we want quicker)

  • ZIP-LOCK BAG (for keys and other valuable things)

  • HANGING ORGANISER (for all those little things from mobile phones chargers to hand cream)

  • HANGING LIGHT (a smaller light which runs on batteries is always hanging on the top of the tent in case we need to search for something once it is dark)

IN FRONT OF THE TENT
We always leave enough space in front of the tent for hanging out during the day and in the evenings. You can buy an extra tarp shelter or a canopy to fix in front of the tent. Don´t forget also:
  • TABLE & CHAIRS (we are using folding camping chairs and a light aluminium folding camping table which doesn´t take much space in the car)

  • CAMPING BLANKET (if we go camping just for a weekend we often don´t take the chairs & table – we use the camping blanket instead and just sit and eat on the floor. Make sure the blanket has a waterproof side for the floor)

  • leave some space for cooking and camp fire

Tent camping with kids družinsko kampiranje s šotorom z otroki

CAMPING KITCHEN
We really love to cook and we love to eat good even more. Therefore we make sure we eat good and tasty food on our camping trips too. Sure, sometimes it´s also “just” pasta and if we go just a for a couple of days we pre-cook some things at home. For camping holidays you can buy a camping kitchen with storage or just use a smaller table and the floor (this is what we do). Here´s what you might need:
  • LARGER CMAPING STOVE (gas or electric, there is lots of choices. Don´t forget to bring extra gas bottles)

  • SMALLER CAMPING STOVE (for morning coffee, tea or easy quick lunch)

  • BBQ (so many varieties here. We have a smaller, cheaper one and a fancy one that can be stored over a spare car tyre)

  • ELECTRIC FRIDGE (if you have enough space in the car this can be very useful for camping in the summer)

  • COOLING BAG (particularly handy if you do not have a fridge)

  • CUTLERY, PLATES & Co. (we take the cutlery from home, a couple of different sized enamel plates, coffee cups and hard plastic glasses)

  • POTS (we have 3 different sized camping pots, which can be conveniently stored one in another)

  • PANS (we use a bigger pan for the main meals, a smaller one for breakfasts and one for the BBQ)

  • CLEANING SET (sponge, detergent, kitchen towels and a bucket for dirty dishes)

  • FOOD STORAGE CONTAINERS (because there are sometimes leftovers and sometimes we intentionally cook more and eat it the next day)

  • OTHER STUFF (don´t forget also: chopping board and a good cutting knife, strainer, scoops, wind protection for the cooker, skewers, grill racks, aluminum foil, cans & bottles opener)

Cooking on wild camping družinsko kampiranje kuhanje kamp

Kampiranje kulinarika kaj kuhati na kampiranju What to cook on camping

OTHER USEFUL THINGS
Besides the above, there a quite some little things and gadgets which might be very useful while tent camping. Here are some:

Trash bags, Swiss knife, a rope to hang the clothes and towels, elastics, laundry clips, matches and lighter, candles, bug & mosquito spray, first aid kit, sewing kit, electrical plugs and extensions, power bank, travel washing powder, hot water bottle, thermos bottle)

CLOTHES & HYGIENE
Which and how many clothes you bring is always a personal choice. Same goes for hygiene products. Let me just count a few you could take:

Even if you go cmaping in the summer it can get cold in the evenings and during the night so an extra sweater, socks, shawl and a blanket might be a good idea. Otherwise it makes sense to dress in layers and pack everything from bikinis to wind-stoppers, flipflops and sneakers. Also don´t forget bringing a towel for showering, soap & shampoo, comb, razors, cleaning wipes, sunscreen, body cream, tooth brush & paste, sanitary products for “those days in the month”. A hat and a pareo is also good for sun protection.

CAMPING WITH KIDS


As a child, from my birth on, I spent every summer camping with my family in Croatia, on Krk island and later on in Šobec, Slovenia. These really are my best childhood memories and we were always sooo looking forward to it as kids. Being outside all day long, barefoot, the beach (or the lake) just around the corner, lovely pine trees shade to hide during midday, riding our bicycles until we knew every corner of the camping, eating like a champ, exploring, trying out new sports and of course also doing a couple of stupid things. As a child you can make many new friendships while camping, especially if you visit the same one every year. The grown-ups easily find friends to spend evenings with as well. It´s just a special atmosphere. When my brother and I were a bit older we´ve also done quite some tent camping trips in Europe with our parents.

If you are taking your kids camping, here´s a list of the things you can take with:
  • PLAYING OUTSIDE (balls, badminton & table tennis rackets, skates, roller blades, bicycles and more)

  • BOARD GAMES (cards, chess, tombola, etc)

  • CREATIVE GAMES (colouring stones on the beach, building sand castles, chalk, drawing block & crayons, play-doh, you can also make a herbarium, etc)

  • MIND GAMES (crosswords, puzzles, sudoku, memory etc)

  • FOR YOUNG EXPLORERS (magnifying glass, binoculars, books about animals, compass, treasure hunt map, walkie-talkie)

  • MORE (you can create a special corner for the kids, built a teepee tent, set up a kids kitchen or a workshop, they also love to have their own, smaller chairs & table)

  • FIRST AID KIT (kids are very active on camping holidays and the chance of accidents happening is slightly bigger than at home so come prepared)

Kampiranje z otroki šotor družina camping with kids

We never camped for longer than a week with Lu, but we manage to do it at least a couple of times a year for a longer weekend. If your kids are used to animation and kids clubs, it is a good idea to search for a FAMILY CAMPING, there are plenty out there. In all the larger campings you will also find KIDS PLAYGROUNDS, SPORTS FIELDS, RESTAURANTS, BARS, MINIGOLF, TRAMPOLINES and sometimes also a SWIMMING POOL. Trust me, they will not get bored and nor will you. It is also never too late to start camping – based on our experiences, the kids will love it!

WILD CAMPING


If you are a bit of an adventurer who loves camping already, you can try out camping in the wild – guaranteed you will get easily addicted. There´is nothing better than waking up in the middle of nature, far away from civilisation, enjoying this amazing peace and quiet. Because it also costs nothing, it is even more tempting. Wild camping is allowed only in some countries and even there only under certain rules. Please obey those rules – not only to avoid big fines, but also to help protect nature. We´re big fans of wild camping and I´d be happy to write more about it, so a longer post is coming up on the blog soon.

If you decide to go for a wild camping trip, make sure you consider bringing the following things as well:
  • AN AXE (for chopping wood for camp fires and other things))

  • SHOVEL (you might not need it every day but when you do need it it is very awesome to have it)

  • PORTABLE SHOWER (there are different versions, we use one we can fold when not in use and it also has a hand pump to create pressure)

  • BIODEGRADABLE SOAP (it is a bit more expensive but you can use it when showering outside without feeling guilty you are polluting the area)

  • NATURAL DETERGENT (for washing our clothes we use the so-called „soap nuts“ – they are 100% natural and there is nothing bad if you pour the washing water on the floor once you are finished)

  • BAG FOR THE WOOD (on the way we always gather dry cones, sticks and pieces of wood for camp fire. We store it in a waterproof bag and it´s always a wise thing to have dry wood when it´s moist and wet outside)

  • TOILET PAPER (yes, you will do your things in the nature and toilet paper is always good to have – just make sure you drop the paper in your trash bag)

  • SOLAR PANEL (because you might not be able to plug yourselves to public electricity for a longer time and a power bank might not be enough)

  • WATER PURIFICATION TABLETS (because it is sometimes really difficult to get clean, fresh water on wild camping trips)

Divje kampiranje s šotorom Skandinavija

WE HAD ONE OF THE BEST WILD CAMPING EXPERIENCES LAST SUMMER IN SCANDINAVIA & BALTIC COUNTRIES (picture above from Lofoten islands). There are lots of posts about this and other cmaping trips on the blog, you can find them in the menu above.

CHOOSING DESTINATION


When you have your tent and all the equipment you need (or think you need), you face another important decision – WHERE DO YOU WANT TO GO. Camping in the mountains, at the sea, at a lake, on a farm, close to a spa or elsewhere? Would you rather go to A CAMP SITE or you want to try out WILD CAMPING? Everything has its pluses and minuses and it´s your choice. We try to mix it up a bit. If you take your KIDS with you, include them in the decisions – they might have some preferences or ideas too. If you are travelling WITH PETS check if you are allowed to bring them to the camp site. READ CAMP SITES POLICIES and RULES and stick to those to avoid trouble. Another good thing to check is the WEATHER PREDICTION – it might also help you decide where to go.

Kampiranje izbira destinacije where ot camp with tent

With today´s technology many things have become easier and so you can now do a very good research from home. Many camp sites also have good websites where you can check out a SITEMAP with numbered tent plots. We often use various APPLICATIONS FOR SEARCHING A PLACE TO SLEEP (like iOverlander, Park4Night, Campercontact and other). If you are travelling in the high season or during public holiday days I reckon it is best to book in advance. In some countries you can get SPECIAL CMAPING CARDS which provide discounts, check if your country has one.

PACKING FOR CAMPING TRIPS


Because there is seldom enough space in the tent and in the car as well, I think it is essential to PACK AND STORE THINGS SYSTEMATICALLY AND ORGANISED at the back of your car. Bigger boxes without lids can be very useful – you can fill them with food, cooking supplies, tools and other things. If you are camping with kids you will of course have even less space and even more things. Here are a few tricks we use to save up space:

  • PILLOW FOR SLEEPING (instead of bringing a big pillow from home you can just take the pillow case and fill it with some extra clothes, blankets and things you will not use every day)

  • VACUUM BAGS (you can store pillows, blankets, towels and other big fluffy clothes into vacuum bags with a hole to remove air)

  • TRAVEL TOWELS (they take up much less space than normal ones and they dry pretty soon)

  • CAMPING POTS SET (you can buy special camping sets of pots which you store one in another – we use them too and love it )

  • CHAIRS & TABLE (they can take up a lot of space so make sure you do a proper research and find such that fold to small cases but are still comfortable enough for you)

  • CAR ROOF BOX (a bit more expensive solution, but it will get you lots of space on the roof of your car)

CHOOSING TEH BEST SPOT & SETTING UP YOUR TENT


If you didn´t make a reservation, you will have to hunt for a suitable spot after you register at the reception. Make sure you don´t just pick the first empty place you see, especially if you will stay longer. Usually, bigger camping grounds have DIFFERENT ZONES – some are for mobile homes, other for caravans, tents and so on. The ones in the first sea / lake row are usually more expensive. In Germany they sometimes also have special parts for younger people, which are known to be a bit more loud in the evenings. When choosing the best spot, dont forget about the following:

  • SHADE (it can get extremely hot inside the tent in the summer so if you have the chance, choose a spot with lots of shade. Trust me, you don´t want to eat lunch under the hot burning sun)

  • NOISE (plots close to the main road or camp restaurants & bars will most probably be more noisy)

  • DISTANCE TO TOILETS (when you are camping with kids it can be very practical to be near the closest toilets, especially if they need to go in the night)

  • FLAT SURFACE (sleeping on a non-flat surface can be really annoying, so do think about that when pitching your tent)

Izbira parcele kampiranje z otroki tent camping tips

When you find a spot that you like, don´t forget to CLEAN THE AREA where you intent to put the tent. Remove all tree cones, branches and bigger rocks. Not only will you sleep better, your tent will not suffer any rips as well. Also, before hammering down your tent, think about the FUNCTIONALITY of your space – where can the table stand, where do you want the entrance to be facing, where will you cook, where can the kids play and so on. One last advice here – DO NOT ARRIVE AFTER DARK, even more importantly if you have no reservations.

SAFETY & DANGERS


I would not say tent camping is a dangerous thing, but there are of course always things that can go wrong and it´s good to know a little bit about it before you go. While camping, take care of the following:

  • STORMS, RAIN AND WIND (if you only have a small tent like us and don´t have space to store everything in it during the night, make sure you pack it back in the car. This way you prevent it from getting soaking wet or getting blown away with the wind)

  • VALUABLE BELONGINGS (in general, I think it´s better to leave very valuable things at home. Otherwise, don´t leave them on the table when you are not at the tent. Usually safety is fine in the camp grounds but opportunity makes thief)

  • ANIMALS (especially if you are camping in the wilderness, but also in campgorunds – never leave food outside and especially not on the floor. Same goes for the trash bag. Also carry a spray against insects and something to help ease animal bites and stings)

  • HEAT AND DEHIDRATION (kids sometimes get so cought up in playing that they simply forget to drink. This can be a problem, especially because they are exposed to heat & strong sun in the summer. Make sure everybody is drinking enough, including you of course)

  • INJURIES (because we are all the time outside and we do a lot of things we don´t do at home, possibly also try out new sports & activities, injuries can happen quickly. Just come prepared with enough supplies to treat scratches, cuts, burns and similar)

WHEN YOU RETURN HOME


When you return home do not simply throw the tent in the basement, make sure you CLEAN THE TENT first. Even more important is to let it really dry out in case it was wet or moist when you packed it the last time. You can also hang the opened SLEEPING BAGS outside on fresh air – here and there you can also wash them carefully. Also, this is a good moment to reflect on which things you didn´t use while camping and what can you buy for the next time.

 

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