2020 may have taken away in-person school, concerts and live sporting events, but it gave us the gift of family road trips and rv / trailer camping. Camping with kids may seem daunting to some, but if you have all of the necessities, it can be absolutely magical, (I promise).
If there is one industry that has been booming during this twilight zone of a pandemic, it’s the RV and trailer industry. Many of us had to cancel our personal and family vacations this year due to Covid, but people are getting creative and taking epic road trips instead. There is something to be said for getting the heck out of dodge for a change of scenery; even if just for a few days. Camping has been such a great solution for those of us who need a break from the groundhog’s day that is 2020. I have been keeping a steady list of all of the most essential must-haves for camping… with kids. Just because we are ‘roughing it’, doesn’t mean we can’t be comfortable.
First, let me give our stats so that you can plan accordingly. We are a family of 4, traveling in a 23′ total (19′ interior), toy hauler. A toy hauler is just a camper with a sort of garage storage in the back. So you can put bikes, dirt bikes, surf boards or whatever for travel in the back. When you remove all of it, you are left with an extra ‘room’ at the back of the trailer. Ours sleeps 4, which is perfect for us. It has a kitchen that has a stove, fridge, microwave and sink. The trailer also has a bathroom and both an indoor and outdoor shower.
I am going to break down the different items that are essential for camping with kids, and I will include some links as needed. Some of these are affiliate links, which just means I get a little kickback from the linked store. It doesn’t cost you anything extra, (in fact I will only link to the best deals I can find). I always appreciate your support in this way. If you scroll all the way to the bottom of this post, I am including a FREE printable checklist for you to use as needed. I hope this is as helpful for you as it has been for me!
RV toilet paper – Regular toilet paper will clog your pipes and that could get rather…stinky. So make sure to supply your camper with the correct tp. (This was the number one tip when I polled people on Instagram and Facebook).
Dawn Liquid Soap – This is for the black water tank, (which is technically ‘the pooper tank’). To be fully transparent, I don’t deal much with this area of the trailer. But it’s good information, and useful to have on hand to keep things clean.
Tissues – Where there is camping, there is usually dirt. And dust. And the elements. And that means boogers for all. I know, kind of gross, but trust me, you don’t want to be blowing your nose with that RV tp or paper towel. Invest in facial tissues, aka Kleenex. My suggestion? Get the good stuff! Well worth it to pack a box (or 2).
Clear Storage Bins – This may be my number one tip for camping with kids. Instead of packing suitcases or duffle bags, pack each person’s stuff in a CLEAR storage bin and label the lid with each person’s name. My kids loved having their names on their own bins. Not only can you see everything inside the bin, (which I promise is helpful), you can easily stack them and tuck them away. This made life much less messy in such a small space, It also kept our clean stuff, clean. (For the adult bins we used 66 qt; for kids bins we used 40 qt)
Shoe Crate for Outside – In the name of attempting to keep our living space as clean as possible, we did our best to do no-shoes inside the trailer. We all brought slippers for indoor use only. We used a milk crate for our shoes, but you could really use anything you have laying around your house or garage.
Doormat – Functional, and also a way to add a little personality to your entryway. Again, in the name of keeping your living space as clean as possible, this is a handy little thing to have at the front door.
Playing Cards, Games – No time better than to dig out Jenga, Uno, Scrabble, Cards Against Humanity (adults only) and any other games that have been collecting dust in your hall closet. There is plenty of down-time, when camping, so having non-electronic modes of entertainment is crucial.
WASHABLE art stuff – We used washable paint (don’t forget the paint brushes), to paint rocks at one of our campsites. This occupied my kids for a couple of hours. We then left the rock at the campsite so the next campers could find and enjoy them. It was a great way to kill some time and give the adults a break. Pro tip: get each kid their own set of brushes/markers/etc. We also got each kid some mess-free coloring books.
Other stuff to pack that you probably already own:
Sage or an Essential Oil Diffuser and oils (Game-changer)
Plastic bags (you know all the ones that you have stuffed in a closet or under your kitchen sink?) Grab those, they will come in handy.
DVDs + Portable DVD player
Empty Tupperware to store leftovers
Baggies for portable snacks (or reusable baggies if you’re feeling environmentally conscious)
Meal-plan, and meal-prep if you can. It helps to have an idea of what you will be having, and will save you a headache when grocery shopping.
However much bottled water you think you’ll need, grab an extra flat.
When bringing games, toys or art supplies for the kids, get each kid their own set.
When in doubt, you can always park in a Walmart parking lot legally and safely.
A portable speaker.
Preload your phones / tablets with any apps or games you might want or need, (I always put Uber on my phone when I travel, in case of an emergency).
Get AAA!! (See my Instagram for why 😉
FREE printable checklist: