Tips for camping with young kids.


Could someone point me in the direction of the best forum to search through on tips for camping with kids? This has to have been covered before. I've been unsuccessful in my searches.

The wife and myself have done our fair share of car camping and backpacking, but we haven't gone since we started a family. We currently have a 2 year old and a 2 month old. I would love to get out at least a couple times this summer.

I have a fairly well set up XJ and a full set-up of backpacking gear. The problem is we can't all sleep in the Jeep, and my backpacing tent is a 2-3 person. The spousal unit is suggesting a trailer, so I'm on the lookout for something small.

Any tips on making this an enjoyable experience for wife and kids? I'm open to any comments on how to make my current gear work, or what I should look for in a trailer, size, etc.



OverCamping Specialist
I posted this same info at YotaTech a few months back when a guy asked a similar question about taking kids.
Well, since I was conceived in Yellowstone National Park, start 'em off young :D
My X and I took our oldest son camping when he was only a few months old in our first tent trailer, same as in this pic below of my youngest son camping with me and the older one.

I would say he was less than two years old there, and as you can see, he already knew his part of the chores.

Kids are very resilient, and they love camping.
Youngest again with the new trailer.

Start them when they are young, as long as you have a good feel of first aid should they require it from some cuts they may encounter.

Wish I had scanned in some photos of our oldest son from a trip when he was just a few months old.


2007 Expedition Trophy Champion, Overland Certifie
I love my wife & I love my kids but the trips I love are not the same as what they love :)
My boys are 18 & 11 and I have been taking them outdoors either through backpacking or 4wd for their entire lives.
The key for the 2yr old is freq stops and lots of dirt time, you don't mention gender and I don't think it matters at that age, just time to touch, feel, tear up, walk on/through/under things. However if you aren't the kind of parent that can let them get dirty, fall down and take risk then your trips will be nightmares.
When I say freq I mean at least every couple of hours if not more. Go slow, backroads where they can see trees, cows, barns, rocks, mines, and more.
The little one is all about nap time and engagement.
Absolutely do not spend any money on electronic distractions, instead talk and engage your kids in what they see. Spend time researching your route and area. With the web there is no excuse for not knowing some kind of history.

You don't have where you are in your profile or mention it, nor do you mention where you will be going. You can get a decent 4-6 person tent off of craigs, ebay or goodwill, you might even be able to ask around to borrow before you buy. Spend the money as time off work with borrowed or used gear vs working more to have more.

Camping spots are all about shade, water, dirt and rocks so take your time to choose a good one away from others.

For your wifes sake get a PETT or similar port toliet and a little tent to have it in if there are any mosquitos,plants that could be a problem.

Get out there and let us know what worked for you....I know I posted some threads in the past on kid friendly travel and there are others here also.


Recently took my grandson to Big Bend here in TX for a trip with some others here on the board.

Only thing I can say is make them leave the PS2's Ipods and such at home. He missed most of the sites while driving :smiley_drive:. I know he may not be as interested as us adults but ... his face was constantly either in the ps2 playing games or watching movies on his Ipod :Wow1:

edited: opps did not see children's ages
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Brian McVickers

Staff member
We have been camping with our kids since they were 6mo old.
Daughter 4 and Son 2.5 now.

Keep in mind that as backpackers and backpacking campers you guys are already well experienced and it should easily translate over.

At two years old and 2 months old your kids will merely want to be entertained and need to be comfortable.

Since your just looking to get out a few times over the summer my biggest recommendation is to keep it simple. Don't worry about the trailer rig now, maybe if you guys were going to spend a month or more in the field but at this point just pack your lightweight backpacking gear and go.

Get a new 4-6 person ground tent, waterproof with a good footprint cloth and a good rainfly.

Get a little camp chair and camp table for your 2yr old.

Pick out three of their most favorite toys/books.
Bring along a plastic bucket and shovel!

Consider a refrigerator!!!!!!!

Get a kid carrier backpack.

Find some kid safe sunscreen and bug repelant.

Consider mosquito suits for the kids if you think you will run into them in swarm.

That's off the top of my head, hope it helps.



2005 Expedition Trophy Champion
  • Patience
  • Treats
  • Glow sticks
  • Rooftent (worked wonders for us) or the largest ground tent you can buy as you need all the room possible especially in inclement weather. Would love an off-highway popup trailer though.
  • A set of toys that are only used when camping/off-hwy keeps the interest up at least for us. We carry 3 dump trucks that are played-with religiously.
  • Patience
  • Food that can be consumed by the wee ones on-the-go (mine can never sit at a table when there is so much exploring to do).
  • Many dozens of books.
  • Patience


island Explorer
we have a 3 yo boy and changed from a small tent trailer to a 12' travel trailer this year. nice to have heat and dryness (tent trailers suck int he rainy area IMO) One thing we do is we took some of his toys and leave them in the trailer that way when we go camping its like he has new toys every time! Lots of outside stuff and usually I will put on his boot, mud buddies(pants) and a rain jacket and let him fly at it and not worry about him getting wet into his clothes. In the dry summer the main thing to keep in check is heat stroke and bug bites we've found. Keep those 2 away and any trip for kids that age will be fun.

One thing to remember at the age they are at a tent in the back yard will be the same as a trip 10 hours away so no need to make it fancy. We will split our camping trips between somewhere special and fun for our kid and somewhere special and fun for us!


SE Expedition Society
We camped with Nashvillerover & Dieselandmud with their kids over Thanksgiving in the mountains near Gatlinburg. Since there were little ones on their first trip, we made it a Yogi Bear campground with showers/potties/electric/water. Easing the kids into it.

Dendy with all the kids:

My wife with them:



I have 3 sons, and just keeping them involved is a big help. Last time we went camping, I put the 10yr old in charge of putting up the tent and together they hammered in the spikes. I recently bought one of those balls that you roll around to make ice cream. It actually worked and it kept them occupied for a half hour easy.

Hilldweller, it looks like the JK is hiding in those trees there :)


Thanks for all the replies.

I should have mentioned that we're located in MN, 2yr old son, and 2 month old girl. I will keep it simple and will look at another tent option. Trips will be just weekenders close to home.

The wife does not share my love of the road trip, so I'm grooming my son for it. I just want to make it fun for all and not set myself up for failure.

Particulary good tip on the bathroom considerations and toys only for capming. We'll be potty training soon.
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Kids make camping more fun

We have had three kids and currently the youngest are 2 and 7 months. I totally agree with everything that has been said so far. Lots of dirt time and patience. One of the first problems we with multiple kids is how to contain them especially when both of you need to be doing when the baby needs fed and food is being cooked over a roaring fire. Don't get me wrong kids learn a lot about discipline and listening outdoors but sometimes they don't alway listen or they can be overwhelmed. For these situations we got a cheap, very cheap 2 person tent. This tent has a rain fly and when the rain fly is off it only has mosquito netting sides. it is a great little play area. Now that the little one is crawling it makes a great space for her to crawl and prevents her from putting the entire forest in her mouth. :elkgrin:
Now I say this next part, not for sympathy, but as a warning to another parent. We have all heard about West Nile Virus, but what the news doesn't warn people about is that children under the age of 7 are susceptible to many other mosquito born viral diseases. Our oldest son was 2 and a half when he was bitten by a mosquito and a virus similar but no the same to West Nile, started to attack his brain. After a two week coma he woke up severely brain damaged. Long story short, he had all of his memories but couldn't move, eat or basically anything. Roller coaster six months later and he died a month before turning three. I am not saying this to turn families with small children from the outdoors, but instead I ask that you take precautions and join me on my war against all mosquitoes.:ar15:

2001 Land Rover Discovery II
- 2" OME
- Hannibal Roof Rack

Maximus Ram

Expedition Leader
They were ganging up on me...
Naw, looks more like it's setting up for an ambush:sombrero:..gonna get those rascally rovers.:smiley_drive:

As for kids, wait til they become teens. mine is 18 and can sit and read while camping, but the 13 y/o stepdaughter all she wants to do is her stupid ipod. tried to get her interested last time out in fishing, but a think she's to "citified". eally wish i could "break" her of that "bad habit".


Expedition Leader
We've been camping with our daughter since she was about 6 months old. Camping with a kid is little different than living at home with a kid. Most our camping is on river trips so I designed and built a floating car seat in which my daughter rode either in a canoe or a raft. We always attached the seat with a quick release buckle to either my wife or I so that if anything happened one of us would be close. I mounted the car seat on a flat platform mounted to the canoe in front of the bow paddler or next to the front seat above the thwart on the raft. We used a four person low profile tent.
We did purchase a small motorhome after she was born for road trips. Have had one every since.