If you are like most people, a family camping trip usually comes with grand ambitions of leaving early in the morning, pitching the tent together, and then relaxing by the fire roasting marshmallows. All this while the Instagram worthy meal heats up and the picnic table is set. What usually happens, however, is a mad scramble to pack the car that extends close to noon because you can’t find someone’s socks, you end up at McDonald’s for a late lunch, and you pitch the tent in the dark while the kids groan about being hungry. You then realize you brought hot dogs, but forgot condiments. Trust me, I’m not throwing shade, we’ve been there more often than we’d like to admit! Now that we are four kids deep, we’ve developed a car camping with kids checklist that acts as our guidepost and helps us avoid the fast food and ketchup-less hot dogs.
Fortunately, after four kids and countless outdoor adventures, we feel pretty good about the essentials of camping with toddlers and young kids. This break-down has been curated after years of fine-tuning for a minimalist list of car camping essentials and fun activities, leaving behind the camping gear you just don’t need!