Planning on roughing it during your next family vacation? These are the blog posts you need to be reading to find the best camping tips, tricks and even places to pitch your tent. Here’s a fun fact about me for you: I have never taken my kid camping. In fact, I haven’t been camping since I lived in Japan! Even then, I wasn’t a great camper. I usually started whining once it was time to try to go to sleep on the air mattress in our tent (no hard ground for this girl!), then tossed and turned all night, then growled at the sun for daring to shine so early. Seriously, camping is something best left to morning people.
The thing is, I have a son. Boys love camping. It’s in their genes I think. He wants to go sleep under the stars one night. I’m trying to convince him that pitching a tent in the back yard (in close proximity to indoor plumbing) is totally the way to go. At some point, though, I think this kid is going to want to literally sleep under the stars. So I do what I always do when faced with something intimidating, I’m researching the heck out of it. These are the posts I have bookmarked right now!
My Favorite Blog Posts to Help You Plan Your Camping Trip
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How to Camp
OurFamilyWorld is filled with great tips and tricks for just about every type of family vacation imaginable, but Olfa’s article on learning to camp is among my favorites. She shares her experiences in three different type of camping environments: a tent, a house tent and a cabin. Up until she wrote that article, I never even knew such a think as a house tent existed. If I have to pitch a tent, that’s the one I want. Cup of Jo also has a great post on how to camp and actually enjoy it.
Where to go camping
Once you know HOW to camp, you need a place to go, right? I really like Six Figures Under’s guide to finding free places to camp. For those like me who need a little more structure (and amenities), Frugal Mom, Eh shares the best places to camp on the East Coast, while Greatist has a whole list of places throughout the US.
Crazy Cool Camping Hacks, Tips and Tricks
Head over to Spaceships and Laser Beams and memorize these cool camping hacks and tricks before you head out. Since one of my biggest qualms about camping is the lack of civilized bathrooms, the emergency toilet one is probably my favorite. A little ick, but at least it’s better than going total cave woman in the woods, right?
What to eat
Apparently when you camp, you have to cook everything in a foil packet. Or on a stick! It’s a rule I guess. Or maybe it’s just the only logical way to cook over a camp fire. Passion for Savings rounded up 20 fabulous foil packet meals for you to try on your camping trip. Here’s the cool part: some of them are totally gourmet. Way beyond hot dogs on a stick and potatoes in tin foil! If you’re prepping dinner for a large family, check out these five camping meals that taste better in the woods!
Finding cheap camping gear
One of the reasons I haven’t taken Jacob camping yet (aside from the whole roughing it part) is that I assume camping gear is going to cost a fortune. Apparently you can find just about everything you need at your Dollar Store. Okay, so probably not the tent, air mattress and other big buys, but just about all the little things! Check out the list over at Ontario Family Camping.
Camping Games & Activities
So here’s my big question: what do you do when you’re camping? I mean, I know you tell ghost stories and cook around the campfire, but seriously, WHAT do you do when you’re not doing that? My camping experiences were with a bunch of soldiers and sailors, so I don’t think the types of activities we did are appropriate for a family camping vacation. My Teen Guide wrote a great post on fun camping party games to play with kids. That’s a great place to start! I also like these camping busy bags from Capital B.
What to pack for camping
Bring the Kids created and ultimate camping trip packing list AND they made it printable. It’s got everything from must-have to “you may also want” items. They even included a camping shower on the list? What, please tell, is a camping shower? I am pretty sure it is NOT what I am picturing. Off to Amazon to search!
Okay, so it is kind of what I imagined. Although I was picturing a magical way to make indoor plumping outdoors, but this is pretty close, right?
The best tents for people who don’t really love camping?
You’ll also need a tent, right? Unless you have an RV or rent a cabin, a tent is pretty much the only option left. It’s definitely the cheapest way to camp. You can buy a good tent once and be done with it. I don’t have a tent. My son has a small tent that’s cool for hanging out on the deck, but we don’t actually have an honest to goodness camping tent. I’ve been eyeing a few that look like they’d be good for people like me who really don’t love camping (but love the ones who do love camping!). What do you think?
This Ozark Trails 10-person tent looks like a little house! It has multiple entrances. More entrances that my house has! And windows! See, a little house. I don’t have a 10-person family, though, so it’s probably a little excessive.
How about an 8-person tent instead? I figure if it fits 8, it’ll fit 2! The Wenzel Klondike Tent makes me think it would be a great fit because it has the word “Klondike” in it. Hey, if a tent is named after one of the coldest parts of the US, it has to be good, right? I know, I’m not applying much logic at all to this tent shopping, am I? Psychologically speaking though, using the word “Klondike” in your camping gear name automatically makes people like me trust you more.
I’m not going to lie, I like this Coleman Tenaya Lake tent for two reasons: it kind of reminds me of the Scooby-Doo Mystery Machine and it has the words “fast pitch” in it. Since I don’t know how to “slow pitch” a tent, I figure fast pitch is the way to go.
Okay, last big tent before I start looking at more reasonable 4 people and under tents. This Tahoe Gear Glacier is like the mansion of tents! It fits 14 people! 14! Plus it’s 7 feet high in the center! I don’t need a 7′ high tent because I barely hit 5’3″, but it’s definitely not claustrophobic!
A little more on the reasonable size for a family of 2, I think this Tahoe Gear Bighorn 4-person teepee tent is probably more logical for my camping needs. It looks just right for popping up in my back yard! Plus it just looks like a tent, you know? When you picture camping in your head as a kid, this is what a tent looks like.
This Fastcamp tent is for 5 people, but it says “one touch.” As in, I just open it and it sets itself up? That’s pretty cool. However, if it’s based on that technology that other popup tents are based on, it usually takes me two hours to figure out how to close it the first time. Once I’ve got it down, though, I can do it in seconds. It comes in smaller sizes for fewer people.
So what do you think? Which tent would you go with? Do you have any other recommendations? How about camping tips? I could always use some of those!