Camping with Family: Preparing for a Fun Activity

When thinking of the perfect activity that can be enjoyed by the whole family, the options will be almost endless. You can go and have picnic at the park, visit a museum, or have a good time at the zoo. If you want something that is more meaningful and fun, you should try camping. This is going to be the perfect choice to bond with other family members while being able to enjoy the great outdoors.

Camping with family, to be an enjoyable activity, will require preparedness. You need to take care of everything, including choosing the campsite and thinking of what stuff to bring. You also need to think of activities that will keep you entertained. With this, keep on reading and we will provide you with valuable insights on some of the things that you can do to prepare for a family camping trip. 

Finding Cheap and Free Campsites

Lower Deschutes River in Oregon hosts campsites along the riverbanks for campers float camping next to the water.

Lower Deschutes River in Oregon hosts campsites along the riverbanks for campers float camping next to the water.

One of the first things that you should do is to look for a campsite. In this case, one of the factors that should be taken into account would be proximity to your house. Make sure as well that the site offers affordable rates, or even better, free entrance fee. There are public and private camping grounds. More often than not, the public grounds are available for free. If you want well-maintained campsites with complete facilities, private grounds can be better, although it is possible that they will be costlier.

If you are looking for cheap and free campsites where you and your family can head, provided that you are from the US or Canada, the following are some of the options that should be taken into account:

  • FreeCampsites.net: This is one of the most popular websites for those who are looking for camping locations. Its popularity can be attributed to the fact that it includes a listing of parks that can be accessed for free. There are also some campgrounds that are not for free, but they all require a minimal entrance fee of nothing above $10.
  • USCampgrounds.info: This website lists more than 13,000 camping locations open to the public in Canada and US. The extensive listing include national and state parks, as well as forest and reserves.
  • Boondocking.org: Usual family campsites can be boring. If you want to try off-the-beaten path locations, this is the website that you should be using. Many of the campsites here cannot be seen from other listings. If you are feeling more adventurous and if you want to take your family on a thrilling experience, this is an excellent place to look for campgrounds. 

Choosing a Family Tent

Once you have already decided where to go for a camping trip, the next thing that you should do is to look for a family tent to bring. The options can be endless, but this does not mean that you can just bring any tent. Make sure to find one that is going to provide your family with safe and comfortable temporary shelter in the campsite.

Why a 3-season Tent is Recommended?

Camping tent in campground at national park

Camping tent in campground at national park

Among other types, a 3-season tent is what we are highly recommending. As the name implies, this kind of tent is meant to be functional for three seasons: spring, summer, and autumn. It cannot be used during the winter, but this should not be too much of an issue. After all, who goes camping on a winter? There are many reasons why a 3-season tent is the best choice. For instance, it is because it is budget friendly, easy to set up, and can manage temperature in a manner that is impressive. It offers plenty of air circulation to ensure that users will be well-ventilated. They have fewer poles and they are in an upright position, which will provide more headroom and interior space.

Features to Look for

To be able to find the right tent for the whole family, the following are some of the features that will prove to be important considerations:

  • Capacity: One of the first things that should be given thought would be the number of people who will be camping. If you are going out as a family, would you rather stay in separate or a single tent? We recommend that you choose a large tent where all of you can fit. Make sure as well that there is enough space for your things.
  • Easy to Attach Poles: Being user-friendly is one more thing that can prove to be essential. Some tents have color-coded poles, making it easy to have them connected with each other, and hence, you can put up the tent in to time.
  • Ventilation: Make sure as well that the tent is made from materials that can encourage proper air circulation. Having mesh walls can be a good thing to promote your comfort.
  • Durability: For sure, you won’t purchase a camping tent that will be good only for single use. With this, take into account the overall construction of the product, as well as the materials that are used. Make sure that it will be able to withstand the test of time, which is going to be indicative of the ability to provide the best bang for the buck.

Sleeping Materials

Having a comfortable sleep is one of the most challenging things when you are camping. To make sure that you will not have a hard time sleeping, you should make sure to bring the things that can make you feel comfortable, just like how you would feel in your own bedroom.

Options for Sleeping Surface

  • Air Mattress: If budget is not an issue, this is going to be the best way to ensure your comfort while camping. Air mattresses have different technologies. Choose one that is going to be effortless to inflate and deflate.
  • Foam: This is a mid-priced option for sleeping surface. It is not too bulky and it offers just the right level of comfort.
  • Sleeping Mat: This is perhaps the most basic and cost-efficient. For a more authentic camping experience, this is the commonly used sleeping surface. When you wake up in the morning, however, you will most likely suffer from having an aching back because of sleeping on a hard surface.

What to Bring from Home

Aside from the sleeping surface, you might also want to bring a blanket, in the event that it gets cold. Bringing a pillow is also good thing if you want to sleep comfortably. If you are bothered by mosquitoes, make sure to use an insect or mosquito repellent.

Food for Camping

Camping Food

Camping Food

Before heading to the campsite, one of the things that you should take care of would be the food. Never leave your home without bringing anything that you can eat. Make sure that it is going to last until the end of your camping trip. See to it as well that the food will not easily perish, especially without appliances like a refrigerator. Bring meals that are ready-cooked or easy to prepare so that you won’t have a hard time.

Meals You Can Prepare At Home

  • Cheesy Fries: For an easy to prepare snack in the campsite, using a foil, wrap fries, cheese, and ground meat. In the campsite, just have it grilled. Dip in ketchup and the family will have something to much on.
  • Breakfast Burrito: This is going to be another delicious meal that you can prepare ahead of time. Tortillas, hams, eggs, cheese, and chilies are the main ingredients. Prepare it at home and simply have it reheated when in the campsite.
  • Packet Paella: Before you leave home, make sure that all of the ingredients are already sliced and kept in containers. When it is time to eat, simply combine all of the ingredients and reheat or have it placed inside a foil and place it on the top of a charcoal grill.

Cheap and Convenient Food

  • Can of Pork and Beans: This is going to be hard to beat when it comes to convenience. Just open the can and it is ready to eat. You can have it paired with bread for a more filling meal.
  • Cereals: Breakfasts in the campsite will be more energizing with a box of cereal. Bring milk along and kids will surely have a hearty meal to start the day.
  • Fruit and Vegetable Sticks: This will help promote healthy eating even when the family is out of home. Make sure to bring dips as well to encourage children to have it eaten.

Inexpensive Cooking Gears

  • Portable Stove: This is perhaps going to be the most important cooking gear that you need to have in the campsite. This is going to make cooking easier as against to having fire manually made, trying hard to be those characters you watch in Survivor reality show.
  • Cooking Grates: If you want a more affordable option for cooking, choose to bring aluminum cooking grates. This is going to allow you to grill, giving you versatile choices when it comes to food to eat.

Entertainment in the Campsite

There are many campsites offering a complete list of activities that can be enjoyed by the whole family. Some are situated by the lake or river, which is a good area to enjoy fishing. There are also some with playgrounds and areas for bonfire.

Family Camping Activities

Family Camping Activities

Cost-Effective Activities

  • Board Games: A game of Scrabble or Monopoly, among others, will surely make your time in the campsite more enjoyable.
  • Mobile games: Do not forget to charge your phones and tablets. When kids are not doing anything, they can just play mobile games.
  • Fishing: Pack your fishing rod and go fishing with the kids. If you are lucky enough to have a fresh catch, you can have it grilled and eat for lunch or dinner.
  • Boating: If the campsite has a body of water, more often than not, there are pedal boats that can be rented.
  • Hiking: If you are camping in a mountainous area, this is a good timing to be engaged in physical activities and encourage children to go on a beginner hike.
  • Socialize: Chances are, you are not the only ones in the campsite. Take time to introduce yourself and your family to other people. This can be an ice breaker and will eventually lead into socializing. 

Items You Need to Have

Family Camping Gears

Family Camping Gears

Aside from those that have been mentioned above, the following are other items that you might want to consider bringing in the campsite:

  • Generator: This is going to provide electricity, if in case it is not available from the campsite. Make sure to check with the management of the camping grounds and see if bringing a generator will be allowed.
  • Potable Water: In some campsites, especially those that are not as crowded, water can be a big problem. Make sure to bring your own supply to avoid problems that can possibly arise from contaminated water.
  • Cooler: This is an excellent way to keep the beverages cold throughout the time you are camping. This is also going to prolong the shelf life of some of the foods that you may bring.
  • Thermos: If you love having coffee or hot drinks anytime of the day or night, having a thermos can prove to be convenient.
  • Toiletries: From shampoos to soaps, make sure that you have everything packed. Campsites are not luxurious hotels wherein toiletries will be provided.
  • Disposable Utensils: Forget about silver spoon and fork. Use disposables, as much as possible, or reusable plastic. The same thing is true with glasses and plates.
  • First Aid Kit: This is one thing that you should not leave without. Make sure that it is filled with the most common medications that your family takes. Bring medicines for allergies, as well as bandages.

Final Thoughts

Indeed, camping can be fun. The latter, however, will only be the case if you come to the site well-prepared and with all the things that you need, such as the right tent for the family, cooking gears, food, and even activities that can make everyone entertained. Make sure to exert effort and spare time to prepare before leaving. This is going to provide you with the guarantee that everyone will have a good time.


My name is William, a family man with two kids and the passion for camping. I started Pandaneo with sharing memorable camping experiences back as a newbie camper, introducing my family to the love for the great outdoors. As time passed, we started traveling across states, trying to hit as many campsites we can!