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Published on February 27th, 2014 | by Pat


Camping with Kids: The How-To for Spring Break Tent Camping

Guest post by Trekalong intern Robyn Campbell.

Spring break is the perfect time to take your family camping: the kids are off school and the weather is starting to get warmer (no frigid nights or boiling days). So what kinds of things do you need to venture into the outdoors with your family?

The Basics

If this is your first camping trip, we suggest you try one or two nights in a campground with flush toilets, showers, electrical outlets, etc. Baby steps forward will be more fun than heading into the wilderness with your family and discovering that your family isn’t ready for those challenges.

Either way, you will need general gear such as insect repellent, sunscreen, rain gear, toys or games, snacks and drinks, and flashlights (to prevent arguments, give each child their own). It might also be a good idea to bring familiar bedtime items, such as a favorite blanket to help them feel calm in an unfamiliar setting.

Sleeping Gear

Consider getting quality air mattresses, pads, and sleeping bags. If you get cheap versions, you could be cold all night as you slowly sink to the ground. For families, it is a good idea to get individual mattresses, pads, and sleeping bags, so that you don’t keep your family up as you toss and turn (or vice versa).

There are several tricks to keeping warm while you sleep:

  • Duvet Covers. Packing both a sleeping bag and a duvet cover can be the difference between getting a good night’s sleep and being tired on the trail the next day.
  • Plastic Water Bottles. Fill up plastic water bottles with hot water from the campfire, and then place the bottles in your sleeping bag.
  • Wear a hat to bed.
  • Long lasting hand warmers (the kind skiers use) can warm your sleeping bag.


When packing clothes, make sure you bring extra clothes for when your children get dirty, as well as warm clothes for them to dress in layers. A good idea is to “sort and pack each day of your children’s clothes within individual small plastic grocery bags in his/her suitcase,” says “This way your child can grab a bag in the morning and have a full set of clothes for the day, and at night he/she can stuff the dirty ones back in the bag thus not mixing up the rest of the suitcase.”

First Aid

It is always important to bring a first aid kit. Some things to pack include:

  • Pepto-Bismol
  • Tweezers
  • Benadryl (for common allergy symptoms)
  • Moisturizing eye drops (for when debris or dirt gets in their eyes)
  • Aloe Vera (for minor burns around the campfire)
  • Hydrogen Peroxide (to clean minor cuts and scratches)
  • Neosporin and Band-Aids
  • A whistle necklace for young children (just in case they get lost)

Just remember one thing: don’t over pack! Not only will you parents be carrying your gear, but chances are you’ll be carrying your little one’s gear, too.

Need some ideas about where to camp? Twentynine Palms, California has average March temperatures ranging from 43-74F, and 49-82°F in April. Death Valley, California is another good choice, with average March temperatures ranging from 54-81°F, and 62-90°F in April.

Looking for something closer to home? We recommend the Best Tent Camping series, from Menasha Ridge Press.

Photo: Grand Canyon NP


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About the Author

is happiest when he's on the move, whether by foot, pedal, or some other form of alternative transportation. Hiking, biking, camping, and rock climbing demand his outdoor attention at all times. Now, as editor and contributor to, they demand his indoor attention, as well.

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