There’s no other way to say it – camping is an absolute blast, and it is, without a doubt, America’s favorite pastime. It can also be a lot of work and this can make camping a more challenging vacation option. Luckily, we have gathered a list of genius camping hacks for family camping to make your next camping trip an absolute breeze.
With these camping hacks, you can be prepared for when you’re out on your next adventure – without having to worry about some inconveniences.
These camping hacks will help get you started. Leave a comment if you know creative ideas we haven’t heard of that you would like to see added to the list!
We hope you enjoy this Ultimate List Of Family Camping Hacks, Tips, and Fun Ideas!
Table Of Contents
- Re-purpose your beloved glow sticks
- Shovel a trench around the tent
- Stash dry firewood under your vehicle
- Set up tent fans inside the tent
- Use a tent heater in cold weather
- Smooth out the desired location of your tent with a rake
- Make a DIY camp shower
- Pack solar-powered string lights
- Bring rugs for the outside and inside of your tents
- Freeze gallons of water for your ice chest or cooler
- Place swimming noodles over the guy lines of your tent
- Bring plenty of insect repellents
- Pack lots of sunscreen – and remember to actually use it!
- Bring bubbles for the kids
- Use a screened-in canopy as a play area
- Pack lots of blankets
- Bring packets of baby wipes – even if you don’t have babies
- Stash some sidewalk chalk
- Prepare as much food and meals ahead of time as possible
- Plan some simple activities and games for all ages
- Bring a portable potty for small children
- Pack socks, underwear, and other essentials in separate Ziploc bags
- Hang a tarp over the top of your tent
- Start a rolling, evolving checklist
- Shove dryer lint inside old toilet paper rolls
- Pack some solar stake lights
- Get rid of dirt in the tent with a dustpan and a handheld broom
- You can never have too much rope
- If you have toddlers, bring a Pack n Play
- Pack a warm bunting for toddlers
- Tote along medicine for common issues
- Bring a plastic storage bin bathtub
Re-purpose your beloved glow sticks
Kids love glow sticks, and if you’re camping with children, you must bring these cool items along with you. They can easily be used to provide some light in your tent, without making things too well-lit for sleeping. For an easy-to-implement camping hack, all you need to do is hang a glow stick or two from the ceiling of your tent. You’ll have plenty of light to see if you need to get up and go in the middle of the night.
Shovel a trench around the tent
Having shovel is handy for outdoor adventures to get your car out of mud and snow. If you have a foldable shovel, it will easily tuck away in the trunk without taking up too much space.
Another thing portable shovels let you do is to prep your campsite. Unfortunately, no matter how well you prepare for your camping trip, rain happens. It’s unavoidable! However, you don’t want your tent to flood. An easy way to ensure your tent won’t float away is to dig a shallow trench around your tent. The outlet should point downhill. This will ensure that even if rain does come about, your tent won’t be swept away in the floodwaters – or fill with water.
Stash dry firewood under your vehicle
If it rains, you need to have a way to prevent your firewood from becoming soaked.
An easy solution is to store it underneath your car. This will allow it to remain dry even in the most torrential downpour.
For added security, you might also want to dig a trench around your car to prevent water from running underneath it and wetting the wood.
Set up tent fans inside the tent
Heat inside the tent can be a major problem when camping in warm weather. Use a couple of tent fans to make sleeping or relaxing in your tent more pleasant. There are plenty of low-cost fan options that are designed for use in tents.
Use a tent heater in cold weather
Just as sleeping in a hot tent is miserable, so is sleeping in one that is too cold. To combat this, consider a small heater. Mr. Heater is a popular tent heater brand that uses propane.
Having a tent heater will make it more comfortable to get up and get changed in the morning. You won’t feel so reliant on your sleeping bag!
If your campsite has electricity, you can bring your regular small heater from home. You can use just about any small space heater.
However, if you don’t have electricity, you can use a propane heater. Just make sure you never go to sleep with a propane heater running, as it can produce carbon monoxide.
You need to have proper ventilation in your tent to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning, and you should never sleep while the heater is running. You should also bring along a carbon monoxide detector to avoid accidental poisoning.
Smooth out the desired location of your tent with a rake
Avoid having to sleep on rocks, sticks, or pine cones by raking out the location of your tent with a rake.
This will make your sleeping area more comfortable, and it will also make it less likely that items will puncture the thin floor of your tent.
Make a DIY camp shower
Camping doesn’t require you to be stinky for days on end anymore!
You can easily create your own washing station by attaching a two-gallon sprayer to a kitchen sprayer. This option will help you save money while also giving you with an easy way to get everyone washed up before dinner.
If you want warm water, painting it a flat black will help it absorb heat from the sun.
If you need another way to illuminate your tent or campsite in the evening hours, consider bringing along some solar-powered string lights. These don’t require you to have any access to electricity, nor will you need to pack extra batteries. There are plenty of options available and you can find them in just about any length or size that will fit any area that you need to light.
Bring rugs for the outside and inside of your tents
Dirt will always be here when you are camping and it’s just a fact.
However, that doesn’t mean you have to deal with it when you are trying to catch some shut-eye!
To cut down on the vast quantities of dirt that wind up inside your tent, pack a rug for both the inside and the outside of your tent.
Wipe your feet before you climb into the tent – as well as when you climb out – which will help control some of the sediment that winds up inside your sleeping area.
Freeze gallons of water for your ice chest or cooler
You don’t have to spend money on bags of ice since it’s literally just frozen water.
Instead, save some gallon jugs and fill them with water. Place them in your cooler. They’ll also last longer than bags of ice.
They also won’t fill your cooler up with water, and when they thaw, you will have gallons of water to drink. Now there’s a multi-purpose camping hack for you!
Place swimming noodles over the guy lines of your tent
Tripping over the guy lines on your tent is an unfortunate reality of tent camping. But it doesn’t have to be any more with this useful hack.
Slice up a couple of pool noodles and slide them over the guy lines. They will be easier to see and you’ll be less likely to trip over them and injure yourself.
Bring plenty of insect repellents
Dealing with mosquitoes and other airborne pests is never fun.
That’s especially true when you’re trying to enjoy a family camping trip. These pests are downright irritating!
Pack plenty of insect and bug repellent to last your entire trip, and pack a few insect traps to be used inside your tent and around the rest of the campsite.
We like the Thermacell Patio Shield, which keeps mosquitoes away and is a fantastic product for use in gathering or eating areas.
Pack lots of sunscreen – and remember to actually use it!
Kids with sunburns are miserable – and can you blame them? Having a sunburn when you’re trying to enjoy a camping trip is no fun.
When you’re camping, though, you’ll be out in the sun most of the day, and you need to protect yourself from the harsh rays of the sun.
Eliminate the danger of a sunburn by investing in a sunscreen that is easy to apply, like a spray-on sunblock that dries in just a few quick minutes.
Bring bubbles for the kids
And for the kids at heart! Bubbles can entertain your young children by giving them something to do for hours on end.
They will spend a great deal of time blowing and catching bubbles. Older kids will enjoy a larger bubble maker in particular.
Use a screened-in canopy as a play area
If you have young children, like toddlers or even babies, a screened-in canopy can serve as a tan tasci play area.
You can watch your children as they play and you will reduce the likelihood that they will wander off. Plus, it will keep the insects off them as they play.
When the kids aren’t playing, you can use the canopy as a place to eat, free from bugs and other nuisances. There are unique, budget-friendly options available.
Pack lots of blankets
If you think you have packed enough blankets, pack a few more. You can’t have too many blankets!
When it’s too cold and the kids want an extra layer to stay toasty, or even if you just want to lay out a blanket to have a picnic on, extra blankets are always in high demand.
Make sure you bring plenty so that you have a few back-ups in case some get dirty.
Bring packets of baby wipes – even if you don’t have babies
Despite the name, baby wipes aren’t just for babies. These are super useful for so many different camping applications.
Things (and children!) get dirty quite quickly when you are camping.
Baby wipes will help you manage the dirt and keep your kids at least somewhat clean.
Our favorite baby wipe for multi-purpose cleaning is Huggies Natural. The box is pop-up and it stays wet in the box. It doesn’t leave a sticky residue on things.
Stash some sidewalk chalk
If you plan on camping somewhere that has roads, like in a designated campground, be sure to pack plenty of sidewalk chalk.
You can make your own sidewalk chalk or buy some, but either way, sidewalk chalk is a must-have for any camping trip. Kids can draw and color on the ground for hours, using chalk to bring their imaginations to life. It will keep them occupied while you get dinner ready or simply enjoy the beauty of the great outdoors.
Prepare as much food and meals ahead of time as possible
Remember that cooking while camping, particularly cooking from scratch while camping, can be extremely difficult.
Whenever you can, try to prepare as much food ahead of time so that you can just quickly heat it up at your campsite. There are plenty of camping-friendly recipes that you can find on Pinterest and other foodie websites.
Try several out ahead of time so that you can have a few favorites ready to go. By getting all the slicing, dicing, and sauteeing done at home, you will save precious time and energy while you are at the campsite.
Plan some simple activities and games for all ages
Games offer a great way to mix things up during a long day of camping.
Like a pack of family find and seek scavenger hunt that’s good for the outdoors, and indoors when it’s raining.
It’s a good idea to have a few games on hand in case it rains, which will let you have fun even when your outdoor activities are more limited.
The same goes for the evening, after the sun has gone down! Preparing lots of indoor- and outdoor-activities in case of rain or other less-than-desirable circumstances is one of the best camping tips you can incorporate on your next camping trip.
Bring a portable potty for small children
Going to the bathroom in the woods isn’t exactly fun, nor it is easy for children who are still potty training or need to use the bathroom frequently.
A portable potty with disposable liners is a fantastic item to bring with you. They can use it in the evening when they are getting ready for bed, or even in the middle of the night when they just can’t hold it any more. The liners mean they can use it more than once.
A portable toilet allows your children to go to the bathroom in the tent without having to trek through the woods in the middle of the night. While you won’t’ want to use the potty for #2 in the middle of the night, it is a great option for #1 when a midnight walk through the forest just isn’t in the cards.
And if you’re traveling in an RV, you can have a portable toilet for the whole family.
Pack socks, underwear, and other essentials in separate Ziploc bags
When all of your clothes are wet, some dry socks and underwear can help you feel a lot better – even if the rest of you is still soaked.
Pack your essentials in airtight Ziploc bags so that you don’t have to worry about your most important clothing items getting drenched.
You will be incredibly grateful to have some dry underwear and socks for you and your kids when the rain hits.
Hang a tarp over the top of your tent
Hanging a tarp over your tent can help in a number of ways. First, if you are camping in hot weather, a tarp will add some necessary shade above your sleeping area. This seems like a small step, but it will dramatically reduce the temperature inside your tent.
A tarp can also help protect your camping gear from getting soaked if it does decide to rain. There are plenty of different tarp sizes, which makes it easy for you to find the tarp that will best suit your needs.
Start a rolling, evolving checklist
Create a camping “to-do” checklist and save it for use on each and every camping trip.
By starting with a basic list of what you brought with you on your last camping trip, you won’t have to reinvent the wheel every time you start to pack for camping.
You can add or subtract to this list, making changes as you go, and it will ensure that your camping checklist is perfectly customized to meet the needs of you and your family.
Shove dryer lint inside old toilet paper rolls
Two items that practically every household in America has inside their home? Dryer lint, and used toilet paper rolls. Save these items for your next camping trip! By rolling up some dryer lint inside used toilet paper rolls, you can produce a convenient, super-easy firestarter. These are easy to light and will help you start your campfire without requiring you to rummage around for tons of kindling when you get to the campsite.
Pack some solar stake lights
Trekking to the bathroom in the middle of the night is never af unt ask, but you can make it at least a little bit easier by pressing some solar stake lights into the ground when you set up camp. You likely already have these hanging around your house, and they provide an alternative to digging for a flashlight in the middle of the night. These lights make it easy to create a perimeter around your campsite. You can even use them to set boundaries so that your kids know that they are not allowed to go past the lights when it is dark.
Get rid of dirt in the tent with a dustpan and a handheld broom
Even if you pack rugs or are diligent about taking off your shoes before climbing into your tent, it always seem like dirt still seems to make its way inside. Pack a small handheld broom and tiny dustapan, which will allow you to quickly sweep up the dirt that is tracked inside. By cleaning your tent just once a day, brushing all of the excess dirt out of the tent, you will be surprised with how clean your tent stays.
You can never have too much rope
Rope has so many uses at a campsite. Whether you’re hanging food in the air to keep it away from bears, tying a clothesline, or hanging a hammock, a long roll of rope is vital when you are camping. You can’t find too many uses for this essential item, so make sure you bring it with you.
If you have toddlers, bring a Pack n Play
Camping with small toddlers or infants can be a challenge in that they easily crawl or wander off during the day – and also at night. A pack n play will give your infant a place to sleep at night, as well as a place to play. This is ultra convenient during the day, as it will give you a place to lay your baby when you are trying to get other things done.
Pack a warm bunting for toddlers
Kids can easily get cold at night, and keeping them warm can be a challenge. They don’t usually stay sleeping under blankets or inside sleeping bags, so an alternative is to bring a bunting that will be well-suited to the temperatures in which you are camping. These clothing articles are great because they serve as wearable sleeping bags for young children and infants. You can use buntings in a variety of situations to keep your children warm and dry.
Tote along medicine for common issues
You don’t need to bring along the entire bathroom medicine cabinet, but you should bring plenty of cures in case your children happen to fall ill. Bring medicine for upset stomach, coughs, headaches, diarrhea, and colds, which tend to always hit when you’re on vacation!
Bring a plastic storage bin bathtub
Kids get dirty. That’s just a fact of life. It seems that young children are even more prone to getting dirty. They will roll along in the dirt and often, even try to eat it! Keeping them clean, therefore, can be difficult at best. Bring a plastic storage bin to help give them baths. These are lightweight, inexpensive, and portable – and you likely have a few hanging around your house.
That’s it for our roundup of the very best camping hacks for family camping! What camping hacks, tips and tricks have you tried to make camping easier and more enjoyable for the whole family?