So after our third season of camping, I asked you guys on Instagram if you would like me to write a blog post with things that work for our family when out in the wilderness. I will say I am no expert, there may be more tried and truer ways to do things, these are just the things that work for our family. I'm going to list them out here and on our next trip, I will get blog-worthy photos of everything so I can add some visuals. This is in no particular order... this is coming out of my brain (a scary place) and into this blog post:
• Make two copies of your packing list, one for gathering the goods and one for putting it all in the car. Sometimes you THINK you've packed something but it never made it into the car... it's still sitting at home on the bench...
• Plan to wear things multiple days, like jeans. It will cut down on packing. If something becomes soiled you can always rinse it and hang it out to dry. It is camping, no one should really care if you're a bit grimy.
• At our campground, you are required to keep all food goods in a "bear box". This is to keep bears out of the campground by having fewer food goods exposed to attract them. The bear box is a metal box, fully enclosed and lockable with a latch. Since it isn't the cleanest on the inside we save our diaper boxes (like the big ones you get from Costco) and organize all the food in them. Just fold the flaps inside, I'll get a photo of this next trip. When you need to access the food you can pull the whole box out and dig through, then slide it back in.
• Use LLBean canvas bags to pack clothes for each person. They stand up on their own and make it easy to dig through and find what you want. We line these up in the back of the car so when you want clothes you open the car and rifle through your bag.
• Boot trays are super helpful when stepping in and out of the tent. Take your shoes off first, step on the boot tray, then into the tent. Then when you get back out you can step barefoot onto the boot tray, shut the tent to stop bugs from getting in and then step into your shoes. I have slide on sandals, but Elliot takes 100 years to put his shoes on and flips out if he gets dirt on his feet. The boot tray limits the amount of dirt coming into the tent AND getting on your precious feet.
• Plastic table covers, multiple ones. Seems as though every time we go camping the size of the picnic table is different. I buy a bunch of those plastic party table covers so you can cover the whole table. Makes clean up at the end of the trip easy and it's wipeable for the duration of your stay. Since I buy a 4-5 (usually at the Dollar Tree) I can use a bunch to cover the large table initially and cover it again if it's gotten too dirty
• Use a lobster claw high chair. We've used this one for 3 seasons. The tray is useless so we use it as a cutting board... But Leia climbs in all by herself now. It has straps but we don't use them since our kids have always been good about not climbing out of their own chairs without help.
• We love this simple stovetop for heating up water for coffee, which we just use a french press and powdered creamer (I know, kinda gross but it beats having to keep creamer cold!) You can heat up soup, make grilled cheese, heat up coffee and grill bacon on it. It's been by far one of our best purchases for camping.
• For grilling, we have this grill. We don't always bring it because my parents have the same one and since they camp right next to us we can use theirs. My parents actually use theirs at home as a regular grill. Mom did french toast and pancakes this last camping trip and they came out great.
• A screen tent since the bugs may eat you alive. We have this one and love it.
• This thing is a lifesaver, especially if you use white noise on your phone for sleeping. It charges multiple devices fully but it takes FOREVER to charge it up to use, so be sure it's ready to go. It's kind of expensive, but I promise it's worth it.
• This is our tent, it's quite pricey. This is our first season using it and I honestly don't know how we survived other seasons without it. It's so easy to put up, if it's good weather you can leave it open so you feel like you're sleeping under the stars AND it's huge for a family of 4.• For sleeping, we have your standard air mattress for us. But since Elliot still needs a toddler rail he has this air mattress. Leia is still in a crib so we use this playpen. We've had this playpen since Elliot was a baby. I am a huge playpen advocate, he loved playing in his and it gave me peace of mind knowing that he was safe. My trick to a playpen is to have special ONLY for the playpen toys in it, so when they go in to play the toys are new and exciting. Never use it as punishment and never leave them in it crying. Leia willingly goes into hers, but she was never like him. He'd play for hours by himself and I always knew he was safe. This one is expensive but you can't beat the size, it's huge. Leia is 2 and fits comfortably. We used one with Elliot until he was 3. He had a hard time in social situations so when we had people over our house it was his safe place... ok, enough playpen rambling. Expert tip, use a fitted bed sheet over the top to keep sun/bugs out.
Leave comments below and I will try to answer them OR add them to this post. Sorry if this is a bit unorganized but I wanted to get this post up so people could refer to it for their own trips. Let me know how you get on with it all, and if you wear bonnets during your trips be sure to tag us on IG.
• For noise when sleeping, we use this app on our phone. We have it set on "Heavy Rainfall" and it works for us. We use it with both kids at home, too. We have an old iPhone 4 that has games on it for the kids and the white noise app.
That's a list of things we couldn't live without when camping. Lots have asked about getting our kids to sleep. My advice is tiring them out thoroughly and they'll go down easy. A white noise app on your phone will help when you yourself need to climb into bed. Keep in mind that we did not acquire all of these things at once. We have managed with many hand me down items and slowly added things to our camping gear as funds allowed. We see it as an investment that we can keep cashing in on. Camping for 4 nights at our local state forest is $75. That's a pretty inexpensive vacation. And although camping can be stressful, when I watch back the videos or see photos from our trips I know for sure we have made the BEST memories.
Happy Camping guys, here are some photos from our past trips. I didn't get too many this last one we just did because I really wanted to live in the moment. I needed to unplug and put my camera down.