How to Prepare for a Family Camping Trip

Summer is here and I have vacation on my mind…and a family camping trip.  This weekend was my kids’ first outdoor campout with their Scout pack and excitement was in the air.  We did a test run a few months back sleeping in a tent overnight in the backyard.  I quickly realized how much you need to prepare to keep the kids warm, entertained and fed.

If you and your family are contemplating a trip this summer whether in the backyard or in and RV, you will need some prior planning and activities to keep everyone smiling and comfortable.  That’s why I want to share some organizing tips with you today.

Lists, lists and more lists for family camping!

Take some time to think about the time you will be away and outdoors.  Lists are a great way to remember what you need and outline your meal plan.  Consider making the following:

  1. Packing List:  Outline the gear you will need, such as tents, sleeping bags, clothing and cooking materials, warm or cool clothing, etc. 
  2. Meal Ideas:  Brainstorm some good meals that you can make on the grill, by campfire or on the go.  Think about Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, and Desserts. 
  3. Meal Planning/Shopping:  Once you have your meals chosen, outline what days you will serve each one, and what ingredients and supplies you will need to complete those meals.  This can become a food packing list or shopping list.
  4. Arrival and Departure Checklists:  Create a plan for what you need to do to set-up camp and leave the camp site.  This will also jog your brain for what you may have forgotten to add to your packing or meal planning list.
Life’s Lists Camping Activity Pack

You can find printable list outlines in Life’s Lists Camping Activity Pack

You can find some great camp meal planning ideas here: 52 Camping Food Ideas

Camping Activities for a Family Camping Trip

Once you are at the site and set up, you will need plenty of activities to keep little ones (and adults) occupied beyond the daily adventures you may take.  There are so many games you can play without any props on a family camping trip.  But it is also good to come with some ideas in mind to fend off the “I am bored” phrases when there is downtime.

You can find printable games to take on the go for the road trip here:  Life’s Lists Ultimate Road Trip Activity Pack

Game Printables from Life’s Lists Camp Activity Pack

You can find printable games like Camp Bingo, Camp Charades, Camp Questions, Scavenger hunts and instructions for 24 family games here:   Life’s Lists Camping Activity Pack

Campfire Bingo Printable

Consider packing small games like a deck of cards, Bananagrams, Uno, or other family favorites that will not increase the weight of your bags too much. 

Arts and crafts and scavenger hunts can also be fun on a camping trip for young families.  Paper, markers, colored pencils or paint pens can go a long way in making nature crafts on the go.

Transporting your Items on a Family Camping Trip

Packing efficiently is also important to make a successful family camping trip.  Here are some tips:

  1. Combine clothing for children or adults in one duffle or suitcase if possible to reduce the number of bags.
  2. Use plastic bins to transport cookware/kitchen supplies that can double as a safe place to store garbage or dirty dishes on the way home.
  3. Get a collapsible cart to roll items back and forth from the car.  It is handy to have a wagon, but these do not take up half of your trunk space.
  4. Make sure to have a back pack to transport essential items for hikes or personal items you want to quickly grab on the run for adventures.
  5. Refer to our latest blog on prepping your car for a road trip for more ideas on prepping for a trip: 

Have Fun & Keep it Simple

The most important element of family camping is to keep it simple.  Connecting with the outdoors does not need to be overly complicated, especially if your trip is short.  Anticipate the emergency needs and the bare essentials. The rest is a creative exercise in how simple family fun can be away from technology, busy schedules and material objects.   We all need this reminder from time to time.

Happy Organizing!


Kristin Vander Wiede is a Professional Organizer and owner of Livable Solutions Professional Organizing and Life’s Lists printable organizing labels, systems and activities.

1 thought on “How to Prepare for a Family Camping Trip”

  1. Hey there! Your article on how to prepare for a family camping trip was such a great read! As someone who loves the great outdoors, I appreciate all the helpful tips you shared. Planning a camping trip with family can be both exciting and overwhelming at the same time, but your article definitely made it less daunting.

    I particularly enjoyed your emphasis on packing smartly and efficiently. It’s so easy to overpack when going on a trip, but your advice to focus on the essentials and to pack light is spot on. I also found your suggestion to make a checklist very helpful. It’s amazing how much a simple list can help to make sure everything is accounted for before heading out on the trip.

    Overall, thank you for sharing such a comprehensive and informative article on how to prepare for a family camping trip. Your tips and advice were practical and easy to follow, making it the perfect read for both novice and experienced campers. Keep up the great work!

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