Because I’ve been camping enough times to know, this camping packing list for families is crucial for enjoying your next camping excursion.
FIRST, you need to prepare your list of items to bring with you in order to have the type of camping experience that your entire family will enjoy!
Clearly, there’s no better way to get in touch with nature than to go on a camping adventure, sleeping under the stars in the great outdoors and enjoying the fresh air.
I mean, who doesn’t love the idea of going camping?
The smell of campfires, s’mores a’plenty, and singing kumbaya!
Sounds great right?
But, if you’re a camping newbie and you don’t prepare for WHAT to bring camping, you might not have QUITE the great experience you were envisioning.
Family Camping Checklist
So, I put together a fantastic camping packing list for families that includes ALL of the major necessities you’ll need for the ultimate family getaway (no matter the weather forecast).
And, if you’re like me, you probably want to print out your list and manually check it off to ensure that you haven’t forgotten anything.
So, for my complete Master Packing List for the whole family, click below to get your one-page printable version.
On this camping packing list for families, you’ll find some basics like:
- Sleeping Bag (Amazon) – I’ve linked to Coleman because it’s VERY important that you get yourself a GOOD sleeping bag that will keep you warm. Case in point: My first time camping, I attempted to use a cheap sleeping bag. I majorly regretted it as I ended up ‘car camping’ with the car engine on & the heat blasting the entire night!
- First Aid Kit (Amazon) – The last thing you want is for someone to trip and fall on a sharp rock or cut themselves on a fishing hook and not be prepared with first aid.
- Extra Blankets (Amazon) – Extra blankets are great for sleeping as well as when you’re sitting outside early in the morning enjoying your cup of coffee.
- Your own pillows – Look, you’re already roughing it, so make it a little easier to sleep by bringing your favorite pillow.
- Camp Kitchen Gear (Amazon) – This set is great because it’s in an easily transportable backpack and it includes all of the essentials for preparing your camp meals.
- Bug Spray (Amazon) – Crucial for being in the wilderness!
- Camp Stove (Amazon) – These are great for breakfast first thing in the morning when you don’t feel like waiting for a good campfire to get going first.
- Family Tent (Amazon) – if you don’t have the luxury of a cabin, pop-up camper or RV, a family tent is your best bet. Or bring extras so the parents and the kids can have their own tents.
- Plastic Tubs – So you’ll need two types of plastic tubs. One type is the small plastic tub for washing dishes. The other kind is the large plastic tubs with lids for keeping your stuff safe from bugs and the weather!
- Camp Chairs (Amazon) – You’re going to be sitting around a lot while camping, so you might as well be comfortable. Plus, it’s a WAY better alternative than sitting on the ground.
- Camping Table (Amazon) – It’s definitely nice to have at least one of these camping tables to setup your cooking supplies. Most likely the campground will have a picnic table at your site, or nearby at one of the camp shelters, where everybody can sit to eat.
- Fishing Gear – Fishing rods, a tackle box, bait, fishing license, extra hooks, etc.
- Reusable Water Bottles (Amazon) – Great for saving on disposable cups. Get each of your campers their own different color.
- Water Jug (Amazon) – these water storage jugs are great for transporting your drinking water to the campsite.
Furthermore, you’ll find some UNEXPECTED items on my camping packing list for families that, if you’re not a seasoned camper, you may not think to bring.
And, to get you even more excited for your trip, keep scrolling for a fun way to easily remember some of my top tips for C.A.M.P.I.N.G!
These are must haves that my own family has learned through our own experiences.
What To Bring Camping
1. C is for Cut Wood
If you don’t have cut wood, you don’t have campfires.
And if you don’t have campfires, you don’t eat.
At least you don’t eat anything hot.
That is unless you have an RV or camper equipped with an oven/stove.
If you’re not the campfire cooking type, you can also use a camp stove (Amazon).
But really? Cooking your food with an oven/stove is just like cooking it at home.
In my experience, ya gotta have that camping experience by having a constant fire going.
Clearly, you haven’t OFFICIALLY camped unless you come home smelling like one big campfire.
Also, be sure to check with the campsite first to see if they offer cut wood for sale.
Most do sell their own cut wood.
However, they’re usually in small bunches.
And cut wood goes fast when you’ve got a camp fire going 24/7.
So, it’s a good idea, if the campsite allows, to bring cut wood from home.
It’ll save your kids from having to go out on a mission at the campground for enough sticks to sustain a fire.
BUT, like I said, make sure you check with the campsite in advance.
Many campsites and National Parks do NOT allow wood to come in from offsite due to non-native insects entering the campsite.
OH! And by all means, don’t forget the matches or lighters!
2. A is for Ambiance
Sure, bringing a tent, sleeping bags, and a flashlight are all the ambiance you may need when camping.
But why not make it a more pleasurable experience by homing it up some?
Bring some of your favorite music.
Fluff up your sleeping area with some cushy pillows and blankets.
Buy a cheap but colorful area rug to place in front of the entrance to your sleeping quarters.
Hang up some Red Solo Cup String Lights.
Get some festive paper goods!
And don’t forget your comfortable chairs to place around the fire.
Some people go even so far as to call it ‘Glamping’.
Check out some Glamping pictures on Pinterest.
There’s even a book on Glamping called Glamping with MaryJane: Glamour + Camping. MY kind of book!
3. M is for Meals & Marshmallows
Have a good meal plan in place so that once you’ve setup camp, you can relax for the duration and don’t have to run out to pick up anything.
Pinterest is a treasure trove of ideas for great camping meals.
4. P is for a ‘Potty Plan’
Depending on where you are camping, there will either be a restroom nearby OR there will be trees.
Does your camper or RV have a bathroom? Or did you just bring a tent?
Last summer my family camped at a really nice campground.
However, the bathroom wasn’t easy to get to, especially at night.
The solution? My bike.
Waking up at 6am and having to use the bathroom desperately, I jumped on my bike half asleep and rode over to the restrooms.
Thank goodness I had the bike because I don’t know if I would have made it in time.
If you’re a woman, it’s not so easy to just ‘go’ in the woods, especially when there are other campers nearby.
I found a product called the Go Girl.
Click on the link to see how it works. It ain’t no joke. It really does work! I practiced at home.
I haven’t had the nerve yet to use it while camping but I’m sure the opportunity will present itself eventually.
Shhhh. Don’t say anything, but I think my husband has a little Go Girl envy.
5. I is for Insect Repellent
Most of the time camping involves trees, high grass, and sticks.
It also involves some wild animals.
With trees and wild animals comes ticks.
Some ticks can be very dangerous and spread lyme disease.
We don’t want a fun camping adventure to turn into lyme disease.
So, make sure you bring insect repellent to not only keep away the pesky gnats, flies, and other bugs, but to especially repel ticks.
And by all means, do a tick check often and shower as soon as you can.
The tick we found on my son’s head after a camping trip last summer.
6. N is for Night Lights
A flashlight or 2 is nice, but when it gets dark, it gets REALLY dark.
Having some string lights across the front of your camper or tent will help you find your way back after a bathroom visit.
Lots of flashlights will keep you from tripping on rocks.
A couple of nice lanterns and a headlamp will help when you’re preparing your food, cooking it and eating it.
And by all means, don’t forget the batteries.
7. G is for Garbage Bags
You’re going to make a lot of trash. More than you realize.
Most campsites provide large garbage cans but they’re not always located right next to your spot.
Keeping a few garbage bags handy will make it much easier to clean up when you’re packing up to head back home.
Finally, don’t forget to scroll back up this post and click onto the link for my complete camping packing list for families.
Camping can be so much fun! As long as you prepare in advance, good times are sure to be had.
So go out there and get YOUR camp on!
For more posts on camping, click on over to: