Photo By Rob Lee
If you are looking for a frugal vacation, camping is a wonderful solution! Your family can dine amidst tall pines, identify constellations in clear night skies and wade through crystal clear waters.
We have put together our best camping tips to help you get the most out of your frugal vacation.
Camping with children:
Pick a campsite that is near the restrooms and playground – a short walk with little ones is much easier than a long walk. In addition, children are less likely to get lost if they decide to visit the bathroom or playground without your permission.
If you have an infant or a toddler, take a portable crib such as a pack n play for your child to sleep in. You can also use them during the day as playpens.
Booster seats that attach to the picnic table for children to sit in are very helpful for meal time and provide a great place for little ones to sit and play with toys at the table.
Give kids walkie talkies to take with them when exploring. We get a lot of use out of ours and it always sets my mind at ease knowing I can contact my children if I need to.
Allow each child to carry their own flashlight. I would not recommend getting the shakable flashlights for younger children. We tried them and my children were not able to shake the flashlights long enough to get decent use out of them. We are very pleased with our flashlight by Maglite and ours came with a lifetime warranty.
Bring a large Rubbermaid container you can use as a bathtub if you will need to bathe your infant or toddler while camping.
To get the most out of your trip, make an idea list in advance of what you can do to entertain the children.
Keep sleeping bags dry by using overnight pull-ups in newly trained children.
Be sure to pack rain gear – summer months are known for their thunderstorms.
Baby backpacks and hiking strollers are wonderful ways to carry your baby around while camping and hiking.
Take along toys and games for the children to play with and activities for them to do while camping. I found a website that has a great collection of outdoor related games and activities.
Potty Chair for younger Children (this is especially convenient for going potty at night)
Water Wings or other type of “floaties” for non-swimmers to wear in water
Keep valuables such as money locked in your vehicle.
Teach children to stay where they are if they get lost.
Bring a First Aid Kit in case of an emergency
Put together a Family Camping Kit to help protect you from the elements. I like this one made by All Terrain.
Follow local campfire regulations. If fires are permitted, build only small ones, never leave them unattended and always put fires dead out, especially when retiring for the night.
Pack water filters or purification tablets for purifying lake or stream water, in case you need more water than you’ve brought along.
Know the campsite rules regarding pets.
If you are bringing your pets camping with you, be sure to take their shot records with you. Some campsites will want to see them.
Bring a stake and long lead for your dog to give him room to roam, while still staying safe.
Provide plenty of water and shade for your pet at all times.
Clean up after your pets. (An easy way to do this is to put a Ziploc baggie inside out and put on like a glove. Pick up after your dog, seal bag and dispose of properly.)
Trim your dog’s nails before you go so they don’t put a hole in the bottom of your tent.
Bring a leash. Some campsites have a short leash law.
Pack a Pet First Aid Kit in case of an emergency
Put a collar with ID tags on your pet.
Pack any medications your dog is taking.
Keep your dog quiet. Continuous barking will disrupt other campers.
Waterproof your tent to help prevent leaks.
Keep food inside coolers or Rubbermaid Containers. Consider putting them in your car to keep the animals out of them.
Take trash out before you turn in for the night.
Use as many disposable products as possible (plates, cups, utensils, etc.) and clean-up will be quick and easy.
Use mesh laundry bags for dirty clothes
Bring extra batteries
Checklist of Things to Bring: (Don’t feel as though you need everything on this list – some items are more important than others. Rather than buying everything at once, build up your camping supplies over the years.)
Family sized tent
Extra Tent Stakes
Tarp to go under your tent
Door mat to wipe feet on before entering tent
Broom to sweep out tent
Rope for a Clothesline & Clothespins
Air Mattress (or pad) with pump
Battery Powered Fan for keeping cool on hot nights
Lights on a string (Christmas style lights) to string around campsite
Folding Table (Many campsites will provide a picnic table, but it is always nice to have an extra table to put your cook stove on or for food preparation.)
Canopy to put over picnic table – this gives shade while you are eating
Plastic Table Cloth
Thumbtacks for holding down tablecloth
Cooking / Meals
Written meal plan with all ingredients needed (Write down what you will be eating for each meal and double check you have all ingredients. )
Kitchen Box – use a large Rubbermaid container to store the following:
- Meal plan & Recipes
- Ingredients needed for recipes
- Cooking oil
- Aluminum foil
- Plastic wrap
- Trash bags
- Plastic grocery bags
- Cooking utensils
- Pots & pans
- Disposable Products: Napkins, Paper Towels, paper plates, plastic cups, eating utensils, Styrofoam cups…
- Can opener
- Oven mitts
- Gallon & Quart sized Ziploc baggies for storing food
- Cocoa for Kids
Cook Stove with fuel
Dishpan and Dishwashing soap if you won’t be using disposable dishes
5 Gallon Water Container (or the size that best fits your needs)
Tools & Other Necessities
Directions to your campground
Emergency Telephone Numbers
Cell phone & Car charger
Tools (especially hammer for pounding in stakes)
Lantern and Flashlights
Fire starters & Firewood (Many campgrounds will not allow you to collect wood for fires)
Small camp shovel
Travel Sized Sewing Kit
Personal Care Items
Jackets (even during summer months, the evenings can get cool.)
You can either buy a First Aid Kit, or put together your own. Some ideas to add to your kit: tweezers, needle, nail clippers, band aids, antibiotic cream, small scissors, Ace bandage, gauze, cortisone, feminine products, pain medication, blister pads, first aid book…
Bathing Soap & Shampoo
Playing Cards (or other games for adults)
Radio or CD Player
Have an idea to add to our list? Tell us in the comments!