Three steps to enjoy a stress-free camping trip with kids:
- Read books about camping to get your kid excited.
- Stock up on fun snacks and favorite foods.
- Send your kid camping with someone else.
Just kidding. Could any parenting stress actually be relieved in three easy steps?
Taking a kid camping is never going to be stress-free, but it's the stuff of childhood memories. Here at Wayfarer Vans, we don’t have all the answers, but we do have some tips and tricks that might make your next family camping trip in your camper van a little bit smoother.
Keep An Evolving Packing List
Forget the pretty packing template on Pinterest. Make your own on the notes app on your phone. The pro-level move is to edit your list while you are actually camping. It’s only when you are parked at a campsite that you’ll have that genius idea to bring a step stool, a butterfly net or whatever item you wished you had. It’s also a great spot to track your consumption levels per trip so you remember how much propane, water, or changes of clothes you went through.
Get Your Kids Their Own Gear
You don’t have to break the bank. My son loves to hike with a small trekking pole, it’s an old one of ours that is scratched and dented and has lost its mate. His headlamp - it’s an old one that is heavier and dimmer than our updated models. But by having his own camping gear, it’s easier to motivate him to hike a bit farther or use his light to look for bugs at night.
Lower Your Expectations
Assuming you aren’t living full time in your van, remember that this is a vacation. If you lower your standards from your home for a few days, your kid isn’t going to be harmed, and you may preserve some of your own sanity. Have I put my kid to bed in the van with an iPad of Sesame Street downloads until he fell asleep - you bet! Do marshmallows count as a vegetable - why not!
Pare Down The Toys
Only go for the essentials here. I packed way too many toys on our first trip thinking we’d need them all to keep our kid entertained. While we still pack a few small toys and books for the drive, you really don’t need more than a bucket and shovel at the campground. With rocks, sticks and some binoculars, our kid will be entertained for days.
Embrace The Dirt
Your kid is going to be dirty, let them enjoy it. Figure out your own comfort level - for me it is wiping hands off with a wipe before meals, no shoes in bed and brushing teeth at least once a day (just keeping it real here). After the most epic of dirt days, we also have him change into pajamas outside so we can limit the piles of dirt inside the camper van.
Figure out your sleeping situation and bring any items along that your child may need. We’ve had our kid sleep on the floor of the van with a camping pad, on the Wayfarer lower bunk platform or with an inflatable bed over the front seats. But no matter where he’s sleeping, we pack his nightlight and sound machine and plug it into the Goal Zero battery, and of course his favorite stuffed animals.
Pack Your First Aid Kit
In addition to the usual items I bring for a solo or adults-only camping adventure, I make sure we have these items on hand for a family trip:
- Instant-read thermometer
- Children’s Ibuprofen
- Children’s Benadryl
- Pedialyte drink mix packets
Hopefully, we don’t need them, but it’s better than packing up camp at midnight in search of a 24-hour drugstore.
No matter if your trip turns out to be a raving success or a massive disaster, it’s going to be a memory for your family. You may as well get out there and try. Good luck, fellow parents!
If you are looking to get a camper van for your family, check out our single rear seat and lower bunk bed accessories that can be added on to our RAM ProMaster and Ford Transit vans. Watch our video on our single rear seat for full product information. We also have a double-seat option in the works if you need additional passenger seating in your camper van.