I think I am doing this wrong

#16
ill say this much. I have a 11 month old and a 2.5 year old. its night and day. Next year you won't even care about 1/2 of your original post. now having another kid screws that all up but oh well.

i can't wait until next year when i have a 2 year old and a 3.5 year old in the summer and i can give mom some "alone time" and go have some fun with the boys.
 
#17
My wife and I have and 11 month old daughter with hopefully more kids coming. We have tried be intentional about getting out, and I think we do pretty good on day trips. Overnight camping trips have turned camping into much more of an ordeal than I imagined possible. When I was single, I could easily make a plan on Friday and after getting off work pick up a few friends in my truck, stop by the store on the way out of town, and have a nice relaxing weekend camping. No so much with kids. I have Frontier crew cab with the short bed, and we tent camp. The first problem is packing the truck. The first couple times out I packed everything in the bed the best I could and then had to cram everything else in the cab around my daughter and wife. I wised up and got a some plastic bins to store it all in. This got most of the stuff out of the cab, but on the last trip I couldn't even get my tailgate shut, so out came the tie down straps. Anyway, I feel like just getting out the door takes way too long. Next comes setting up for the night, my wife normally has to feed my daughter and take care of her needs when we arrive so that leaves me getting everything else set up by myself. When we go to pack up, we start the process all over again. It just seems that the amount of stuff needed to get out with baby increases so much. Seeing as we are not done having kids yet, we could be in this phase for some time, and I can't imagine it gets easier with more kids. What are people's suggestions for streamlining the process of getting out with small kids? Do you just accept that it is just going to more difficult and push through until the kids are bigger and more fully able to take care of themselves? We were determined when we found out we were going to be parents to continue to have adventures and make sure our kids do to, but I can more fully understand why a lot of people just throw their hands up and wait until their kids are older.

Probably the best solution that I have thought of is get a trailer that can store most of our camping gear and eliminate most of the packing and unloading. Then maybe putting a RTT for easier set up. The other possibility is to just go with a pop up trailer as you can normally get a used one for the same price as new RTT alone. Anyway, I am open to other ideas. I just curious as to how others has attempted to still be able to get and enjoy their time while also caring for small children.
We did 7wks and 11k miles with a 2mo and a 90# St Bernard mix in a Jeep JKU (4door)...in the middle of winter... from CA to ME and back. Northern route outbound. No interstates. It was tight and would have been far more comfortable in a bigger vehicle.

He's (our son) been camping with us frequently since then. He sleeps with us in a tent. Here's how we did it ... here is what work for us.

If your wife is on good health, not obese, does not smoke or on any meds, and breastfeeds, she will not smother the baby while sleeping. Fathers on the otherhand are different and do not have the same baby awareness. ... This implies no separate bed/crib for the baby.

Kids need surprising little stuff. Skip the pack and play...instead of a huge stroller, bring an ergo., Etc. Bring a couple of toys. Skip the bottle warmer and use warm water to warm milk.

It gets easier and better...organize and plan. You will always start with more crap then you need... But you will eventually hit your stride and understand what's necessary and what isn't. A good way to practice is to pretend camping while still at the house. I think you'll be surprised at how little is necessary. Also make it fun...

Keep the seats and floorboards clear of any planned gear. The passenger compartment needs to be for passengers... Not for gear.

There will always be a need to throw a random bag extra diapers or whatever somewhere in the cabin. There will be diaper blowouts and there will be a need for complete clothes change when the kids puke on themselves.

Make sure you make some extra space in the glove box and or center console for baby/disinfectant wipes and granola bars for the parents so they don't get hangry.

Staging gear the night before will reduce the time out the door. Kids are more complicated.. absolutely. Use soft packs/bags instead of bins for most...hard sided totes consume air/volume. I keep everything in kits - kitchen kit, tent kit, kid kit etc. Everything has a place and a home. Reduce the amount of duplicate trips back and forth to the truck reduce the amount of shuffling gear around... It requires a change of mindset for sure.

We have slowly shifted away from a complete backpacking mindset to a little bit more of a Basecamp mineset while our kiddo is still young. That means a nicer tent and a little bit more Creature Comforts. But we still pack light.... Except for a Dometic Fridge freezer... Takes up a lot of room in the Jeep but as well worth it.

I have also focused on gear that has quick set up times. If I can't set up the tent or shade shelter by myself in less than 10 minutes then it's going back to the store. That might mean having to spend money on some new equipment... But it's worth it. I can set up our kodiak canvas tent in 1/3 of the time that I can set up our fancy REI Kingdom. I use a Makita impact driver and long lag bolts for tent stakes. Our tent is up in <10mon from unloading to erect.

I head up early to get everything setup. Allows me get it done faster and less stress. Also keeps Mama much much happier... All she has to do is show up with the baby and deal with kiddo issues as opposed to setting up a tent. I think it's a pretty fair trade and so does she.

We have also put all of our gear into a small trailer thought I bought off Craigslist. I keep the trailer mostly packed. This is been the single best Improvement I have made to our camping trips.

There'll be people that will chime in and tell you that they can do four adults in a jeep with four dogs and cat for 2 months... And try to make you feel bad for having a tough time / taking too much crap... Don't listen to The Forum Jockeys and people that walk uphill both ways in the snow...

Hang in there and take your time. Bottom line is you need to make this fun for you and and then it will be fun for the family...

sent via the cone of silence
 
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#18
I've been camping with our kids since they were in diapers. Diapers suck but not much you can do about them. We have always camped in tents with no problem. It just takes a little getting used to by both the parents and the child. The best advice I can give is to take frequent breaks while driving and not to drive for a 10 hour stretch. As others have stated you need far less than you think. Healthy snacks also make a big difference, no sweets during the day (reserved for camp). I've found that sweets and confined to a car can lead to some trying times. Oh, one more thing, more clothes for the little ones than normal. They are little dirt magnets.
 
#19
I'll reiterate what a couple of others have said - see if you can't get a tent with a much faster setup/takedown time. A lot of traditional tents are a giant pain to set up.


I have the same crew cab with short bed, and I have to wonder if you're taking a few larger items that should probably be left at home.

If you're struggling to fit everything in the bed, try to find some containers that are a bit taller than the sides of the bed so you can increase your volume vertically. Something around this size works great:

https://www.unclesamsretailoutlet.com/Hardigg-TL500i-OD-Green-Military-Foot-Locker-p/15249-0019.htm

Get several cam buckle straps with the vinyl coated hooks on each end, if you don't have any; they save a ton of time tying things down, especially if you have the factory Utilitracks in the bed.

You can also make a cheap wooden frame, sort of like a pallet, to raise your containers up several inches. This lets you slide stuff under the containers and still access everything. I put recovery ramps, snowshoe poles, folding tables, folding chairs, etc. under mine.

If you're still struggling with space in the bed, I would suggest taking light and soft items like your clothes and putting them in some cheap duffel bags. Keep the size small - like 16"x24" or so - and you can put them on the floorboards in the back. You want them light, and wedged in there so they're not flying about in the event of an accident. It's easy to toss pillows in the same area as well. Three bags should cover 2 adults - 1 each for clothes, 1 shared for toiletries and other stuff. If not, you are probably bringing too much stuff.


For comparison, this is what I packed in my truck last time we went out camping:

Cab: (all the waterproof stuff could have gone in the bed instead)
3 small duffels,
2x small pelican cases for GPS/Radio/InReach
regular emergency stuff that lives in door pockets
1x hard camera case

Bed:
44 x 24 x 14 hard case (tools, recovery stuff, spares)
1x 5 gal bucket with Gamma lid (trash)
2x 5 gallon water cans
2x 2.5 gallon water cans
1x 3 Gallon Rotopax (gas)
3x 2 Gallon Rotopax (gas)
1x 1 Gallon can (motor oil)
2x drybags with sleeping bags in them
Jackstand
AEV jack base
Camera Tripod
1.5 gallon pump sprayer
Folding chair
2x folding stools
2x pair boots
Smallest size ActionPacker (food)
Small cooler (the flat 24-can size type, shaped like a flatpack of cans), food/drinks

Now, we had to carry a bunch of gas/water for specific reasons, but you can fit a ton of stuff back there.
 
#20
Maybe look at ways to streamline your gear . Try this , take another trip and do your setup as normal and camp for the night but keep track and write down what stuff you actually use alot of the time we take way more stuff then you actually need . If your need more room for gear have you considered a canopy? One of the best upgrades I did for family camping was a Colman quick set tent , by myself I can have it up in 3 minutes and it's huge with tons of dry room to do stuff (it rains alot here) toss in a air mattress and your ready to camp . Also drive less during the day and have more time to camp , you can also jump on air b and b and find a cabin , drive around exploring then just boogie to the cabin till the little one is older
 

calicamper

Expedition Leader
#21
My wife and I have and 11 month old daughter with hopefully more kids coming. We have tried be intentional about getting out, and I think we do pretty good on day trips. Overnight camping trips have turned camping into much more of an ordeal than I imagined possible. When I was single, I could easily make a plan on Friday and after getting off work pick up a few friends in my truck, stop by the store on the way out of town, and have a nice relaxing weekend camping. No so much with kids. I have Frontier crew cab with the short bed, and we tent camp. The first problem is packing the truck. The first couple times out I packed everything in the bed the best I could and then had to cram everything else in the cab around my daughter and wife. I wised up and got a some plastic bins to store it all in. This got most of the stuff out of the cab, but on the last trip I couldn't even get my tailgate shut, so out came the tie down straps. Anyway, I feel like just getting out the door takes way too long. Next comes setting up for the night, my wife normally has to feed my daughter and take care of her needs when we arrive so that leaves me getting everything else set up by myself. When we go to pack up, we start the process all over again. It just seems that the amount of stuff needed to get out with baby increases so much. Seeing as we are not done having kids yet, we could be in this phase for some time, and I can't imagine it gets easier with more kids. What are people's suggestions for streamlining the process of getting out with small kids? Do you just accept that it is just going to more difficult and push through until the kids are bigger and more fully able to take care of themselves? We were determined when we found out we were going to be parents to continue to have adventures and make sure our kids do to, but I can more fully understand why a lot of people just throw their hands up and wait until their kids are older.

Probably the best solution that I have thought of is get a trailer that can store most of our camping gear and eliminate most of the packing and unloading. Then maybe putting a RTT for easier set up. The other possibility is to just go with a pop up trailer as you can normally get a used one for the same price as new RTT alone. Anyway, I am open to other ideas. I just curious as to how others has attempted to still be able to get and enjoy their time while also caring for small children.
First off only two adults and one toddler and a Frontier didnt have enough space? We spent several yrs camping out our Subaru Outback with two parents, one toddler and a dog. Today with two kids 5-8 with bikes and bags of their own we drag a small 4x6 life time tent trailer we toss three yellow top Costco bins on. We dont pack light either.

Thinking you need to suspend the Cabellas magazine and get rid of half your gear. LOL
 

calicamper

Expedition Leader
#22
With kids we base camp only! The whole solo or two adults traveling daily does not fly with young kids.

Every summer we do one long trip and several short trips. The long trips are 6-9 day trips where we set up camp then do day trips mixed with local camp centric days. Last Summer it was YellowStone we stayed in one site the whole time we had three long days with late returns to camp after exploring Grand Teton. The rest of the stay were short days in the car, short hikes, time at camp playing and relaxing.

Our short 2-3 day trips are local 2-3 hour at most each way drives again base camp and local exploring.

The daily travel to a new location doesnt work with kids.
 
#23
First off only two adults and one toddler and a Frontier didnt have enough space? We spent several yrs camping out our Subaru Outback with two parents, one toddler and a dog. Today with two kids 5-8 with bikes and bags of their own we drag a small 4x6 life time tent trailer we toss three yellow top Costco bins on. We dont pack light either.

Thinking you need to suspend the Cabellas magazine and get rid of half your gear. LOL
I would probably be better off space wise if I had bought a bunch of stuff at Cabela's rather my current gear. I don't think I am over packing as much as a lot of the things we bring camping may not be the most efficient size. For example, we bring the pack and play for our daughter to sleep in. We could get something much smaller for her but we already have the pack and play and she will outgrow it soon anyway. So I just deal with having a bulkier item to pack. Anyway, I am quickly seeing what an earlier poster pointed out that this next year is going to be completely different as what needed at one year old is much different than at two years. We also have baby number two on the way. I will update this thread after the weather warms up and we have a chance to get out again.
 
#24
Avoid an air mattress if you can. Takes too much time to air up and deflate and hard to keep the kido's from playing on them, which will create holes. Lesson learned from last trip out with kidos.
 
#25
Set up your tent and sleeping gear for a backyard campout. Make a list of everything you go back into the house for. That is all you need to pack.
 
#26
My wife and I have and 11 month old daughter with hopefully more kids coming. We have tried be intentional about getting out, and I think we do pretty good on day trips. Overnight camping trips have turned camping into much more of an ordeal than I imagined possible. When I was single, I could easily make a plan on Friday and after getting off work pick up a few friends in my truck, stop by the store on the way out of town, and have a nice relaxing weekend camping. No so much with kids. I have Frontier crew cab with the short bed, and we tent camp. The first problem is packing the truck. The first couple times out I packed everything in the bed the best I could and then had to cram everything else in the cab around my daughter and wife. I wised up and got a some plastic bins to store it all in. This got most of the stuff out of the cab, but on the last trip I couldn't even get my tailgate shut, so out came the tie down straps. Anyway, I feel like just getting out the door takes way too long. Next comes setting up for the night, my wife normally has to feed my daughter and take care of her needs when we arrive so that leaves me getting everything else set up by myself. When we go to pack up, we start the process all over again. It just seems that the amount of stuff needed to get out with baby increases so much. Seeing as we are not done having kids yet, we could be in this phase for some time, and I can't imagine it gets easier with more kids. What are people's suggestions for streamlining the process of getting out with small kids? Do you just accept that it is just going to more difficult and push through until the kids are bigger and more fully able to take care of themselves? We were determined when we found out we were going to be parents to continue to have adventures and make sure our kids do to, but I can more fully understand why a lot of people just throw their hands up and wait until their kids are older.

Probably the best solution that I have thought of is get a trailer that can store most of our camping gear and eliminate most of the packing and unloading. Then maybe putting a RTT for easier set up. The other possibility is to just go with a pop up trailer as you can normally get a used one for the same price as new RTT alone. Anyway, I am open to other ideas. I just curious as to how others has attempted to still be able to get and enjoy their time while also caring for small children.

Now that it has been almost a year since your original post I am curious to hear what you ended up doing. We camp regularly with our two boys (3 and 6) and are about to have our third. I think there has been some pretty good advice given already, the only thing I would add is to evaluate what you actually use each trip and eliminate non essentials after each trip. I have found the kit we take gets less and less after each trip as we realize how little you need to have a good time. I've found stopping for 20 to 30 minutes every few hours does wonders for the kids as they get to play and exercise and often get worn out leading to naps which is good for everyone.

Experiment until you find what works really well for your family. If I go without my wife and just take the boys we slip in the Land Cruiser together. Otherwise after a night or so in a tent and sleeping bag after a long hard day of playing kids get pretty dang good at sleeping on a mat in a tent.
 
#27
For the reasons you mentioned, we ended up buying an Oztent.

Since 9 times out of 10, it’s me setting everything up and packing back up while she tends to the kids, having a tent that sets up quick helped a ton.

The other thing we bought that helped was a cookset where everything for 4 people nests inside- we got the Stanley basecamp set. It’s easy to keep everything together in one place. Each kid (1 and 3yrs old) has a water bottle that is their primary drinking vessel.

On the day of the trip, the only thing we really need to pack is water, food and clothes. All the kids stuff goes in one bag packed inside color coded packing cubes- (green for his, purple for hers).

The rest of the kit stays packed in 1 ridgid toolbox- that’s lights, thermacell, cookset, coffee pot, kitchen utensils, shower.

We manage to fit everything in the cargo area of a JKU with the Oz strapped to the roof.
 
#28
I have a 2 yo granddaughter that wants to go camping so my wife and I have decided on a quick trip this fall to a very close campground. Fall because the weather is nicer and close because we can take 2 vehicles and my wife could take her home if it all goes bad. See how everyone does in a setting that's close to home then plan more extended trips. My granddaughter is very excited about it and asks me when every time I see her.
 
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