Few things can bring a family together like a few nights spent out under the stars. And a family camping trip is a great way to have fun, and get closer to your kids, without spending a fortune. Take your family into the woods without having a plan though, and you could quickly find yourself sitting in the rain, being eaten alive by mosquitoes, and having no fun at all.
To help make sure your trip is a good one, here are seven family camping trip essentials:
#1: A Weather Report
It only takes one day of rain – or worse yet, a sustained thunderstorm – to ruin all your planning and fun. Even worse, children might become afraid if they are outdoors during a rough storm, and might not want to go camping with you again in the future. Put the odds of a successful outing on your side by getting a weather report for your camping area before you leave. If it looks like you might run into problems, consider rescheduling or make a backup plan (like a hotel reservation in a nearby town with a few family-friendly attractions) so you can be prepared.
#2: The Right Spot
The “perfect” camping spot will depend somewhat on your preferences (like lakes versus forests, etc.) and your comfort with “roughing it,” but generally speaking, you should look for a family-friendly park that allows campfires. And it’s a good idea to look for spot that’s not too far from home. Somewhere between 30 minutes and an hour is ideal – long enough to feel like you’re going somewhere, but not long enough for your family to get cranky from the drive.
#3: A Comfy Tent
If you don’t already have a tent for your family camping trip, shop carefully. You don’t need to spend a fortune to get something that will hold up against the elements, but you should plan on buying a size that’s 1 to 2 people larger than suggested so everyone will have plenty of sleeping room. Speaking of sleeping, invest any savings in durable sleeping bags and pillows. They’ll add to your comfort, and can be used again and again for years.
#4: Kindling and Fire Wood
Sitting around the campfire has been something families have enjoyed doing in Alberta for generations, but starting a fire isn’t always as easy as you might think. For one thing, wood can be hard to come by, and the small leaves or branches you find around your campsite might be wet or unsuitable. Save yourself a bit of stress by bringing your own firewood with you, and a simple kit to help you get your blaze going with no trouble.
#5: Marshmallows and Other Treats
Hot dogs, burgers, and other campfire meal choices are a must-have, but don’t forget marshmallows and a handful of other treats. Having plenty of snacks on hand allows you to eat a little bit without having to build up a big fire again. More importantly, it can appease kids who might need something to munch on between meals and helps them feel like your camping excursion is a special occasion. Just don’t get so excited to pack treats that you forget simple things like bottled water.
#6: Fun Family Games
There are a million things you can do well camping with your family, but some of them will need to be planned for ahead of time. You could bring board games, Frisbees, baseball gloves, fishing poles, decks of playing cards, and even kayaks or ATVs. Just make sure you have activities to appeal to several different moods and activity levels, and that things like fishing and boating are allowed at your camping destination, if that’s what you plan to do.
#7: A First Aid Kit
It’s unlikely that you or a family member will become very ill or have a serious accident while camping, but keeping a first-aid kit is an important safety precaution against those kinds of unexpected troubles. In addition, having insect repellent, lotion for mosquito bites, and simple things like Band-Aids or aspirin can make all the difference between having a great time or enduring a long day.
Planning a family camping trip’s a great way to unwind and make the most of the Albertan outdoors. Why not check the forecast and see if you can get away from it all this weekend?