There’s plenty to think about when planning and packing for a family camping trip with children under 5 years – especially if this is the first time you’ll be camping with your little one(s). I’ve covered the topic in detail in Travels with Baby, but I was recently reminded how location, location, location can make such a difference when camping with small kids.
When picking your family’s campsite, avoid these locations if you can:
1. Next to water – The lakeside view might be lovely, or the sound of a trickling stream, but how many changes of dry clothing did you bring for this weekend getaway? You may end up constantly chasing your toddler out of the creek throughout your stay, and of course with small kids it could be a serious safety hazard. What’s more, being closest to the water may also put you in the thick of mosquitoes come dusk.
2. Next to the restroom – In the case of pit toilets, the reason may be obvious. But the constant traffic to the john, flushing noises, conversations, and lights can be very disruptive to young sleepers who are already excited enough about sleeping in the tent. Even with a potty trainee along for the adventure, you may rest better a comfortable distance away from the restrooms (and keep your training potty in the tent if you’re nervous about a potential midnight run).
3. Next to the garbage / recycling – Sure, if someone asked you if you’d prefer to be in this site, you’d probably say, “No thanks!” But if it’s one of the last campsites left when you arrive on a Friday evening, just think of those investigative raccoons and skunks that might traipse through your site en route, and the college students who may unload their case of beer cans at an unsettling hour. Try for a different space if possible.
So where does that leave you to pitch your tent or park your campervan? Hopefully at the farthest end of the loop where the bulk of campers, once settled, will be less likely to pass by on their way to the general store, or restrooms, or garbage bins. There will be plenty of time to make new friends when you’re in the mood for a stroll.
For more help planning camping trips with babies, toddlers, and preschoolers, see Chapter 2 of Travels with Baby, and check out some of the related posts and pages below. And if you’ve got your popcorn ready, here’s my segment from View from the Bay.
Pack this! DEET-free mosquito repellent wipes
Tip #34: Fall in Love with Silver Falls State Park, Oregon
Tip #35: Scorpions, Ticks and Bears—oh, my!
Tip #31: Practice Camping
Review of the hands-free Beam N Read LED light
Ask Shelly: What to do with car seats at Yosemite?
Quick List for Camping with Babies and Toddlers