5 Essential Camping Hacks with Kids

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Camping with kids can be an awesome family activity. Be prepared this summer with our list of essential camping hacks with kids. National Parks, here we come!

Summer family camping trips are one of the best ways to solidify family bonds and make lifelong memories.

A way to flee day-to-day life, step away from electronic devices and spend quality time with your children.

But it can also be a pretty big change from your ordinary everyday life, and don’t forget, even the most mellow child can have a hard time adapting to change.

camping hacks with kids

Sometimes, this can be a bit rough on kids who are used to a schedule and often leaves parents frustrated with no idea how to calm down their fussy child.

Before you pack for your summer camping trip, be sure to read over our camping checklist below so you can prepare for your best trip ever with as little bumps as possible.

Making sure your kids have an incredible time camping isn’t always just about the camping gear you need to buy or the camping supplies you need to bring.

A lot of it has to do with giving children some kid friendly calming comforts.

If you are planning to start camping with a toddler, you may want to check out our post dedicated on what to pack and our tips for how to camp with a baby.

Camping Essentials with Kids

Pack extra drinks and snacks

When kids get hungry or thirsty they tend to get cranky. (I do, too, actually, don’t you?)

When these meltdowns happen, this can put a major damper on your camping trip.

I suggest packing a lightweight cooler for water bottles, cold drinks and snacks and an air-tight sealed container for shelf-stable snacks just for the kids.

Kids love the freedom of having drinks and snacks they don’t need to ask for.

It’s also less stress on you if they are able to go in and out of a dedicated cooler won’t affect the rest of the camping food.

little girl enjoying picnic fruit snacks

Keeping your child’s blood sugar even can help prevent your child from getting cranky.

But we want to make sure we pack the right snacks or things could only get worse.

When packing snacks, look to pair a carb with a protein to prevent blood sugar crashes that leave kids feeling even more cranky.

Set up a cozy spot to rest

Another thing that tends to leave kids cranky is when they get tired.

Your first camping adventure is likely full of fun activities and the heat and sun can be very draining.

With all the fun and excitement, kids often just want to keep going without even realizing they are tired.

camping with kids in hammock

It’s easy to set up a comfy spot just for the kids to relax with an inflatable chair, child-size hammock or hanging pod chair.

Even just a pile of pillows and or rolled up sleeping bags can be used to make a comfy spot to snuggle up and take a nap if needed.

I suggest placing some books or quiet time activities in this area – you may even trick them into taking a rest without even knowing.

Try leaving snacks here as well and you can take care of two needs at once!

Cool them off

When we get too hot we all tend to get cranky, kids even more so.

To help combat this on hot summer camping trips plan ahead for water activities like swimming, water squirters, even playing a card game with a twist using spray bottles to spray the loser helps cool everyone down a bit.

reusable water balls

Our most favorite recent buy are these Reusable Water Balls!

I love that it’s something the kids can play with over and over AND there is no waste like with water balloons so it’s eco-friendly.

Give them some one-on-one attention away from others

Sometimes the problem is really just that your child is feeling overwhelmed from too much stimulation.

To combat this take the cranky child away from others and spend some one-on-one time with them in a quiet place.


This is the perfect time to go for a walk on the trails and look for a nice spot to relax.

This will give your child a moment to all down without all of the sensory input of screaming kids, and a flurry of activity on all angles common in busy campgrounds.

Pack some extra entertainment

If your kids get bored while you are busy setting up or taking care of things daily, you will want to have something on hand to keep them content for a while.

Even if your campground offers some great activities, you should come prepared with plenty for your child to do at the campsite like coloring books and crayons, art kits, and board games.

These will help keep even your older kids entertained when you are too busy washing dishes or tired to go do something active with them (we need down time too, right?)

Printable Camping Activities

We developed a few printable activities that are geared towards camping and hiking.

Use these to get kids excited about an upcoming trip or to give them some activity ideas while you’re out in nature.

hiking journal template PIN
The Best Hiking Journal Template and Activity Book for Kids

Keep the kids entertained and encourage them to keep a journal of their camping memories this summer with this fun activity bundle.

This instant download and print package includes:

♥ Camping Memories journal page
♥ Dots and Boxes game
♥ Would you rather…
♥ How to Draw an Eagle
♥ My Camping Comic blank
♥ Camping Bingo Game Card
♥ Scavenger Hunt Game Card

Want more idea of what to taking camping with kids? We have a bunch more articles about camping that may interest you.

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