When it comes to summer activities, it doesn’t get any more classic than the good old family camping trip! With some insider tips and a little pre-planning, you can wow your family with an adventure that they won’t forget. We’ve rounded up the best tips for food, activities and camping hacks so you can rock the campground like a pro.
The Best Campfire Bites
photo: Alaska From Scratch
1. Start the day off right with a batch of these delicious breakfast burritos.
2. Try a fun twist on s’mores with these warm and gooey campfire cones by Kids Activities Blog.
3. You can make scrambled eggs in a snap! Crack eggs in advance and keep them in a bottle for easy pouring and cooking at the campsite. Learn how to do it right here at Lifehacker.
photo: One Red Teaspoon
4. Have a hearty dinner around the campfire with this yummy chicken and veggie stew.
5. The kids will flip for these brownies baked in orange peels right on the campfire! Check them out here.
6. Surprise your family with these cheesy, melty campfire nachos.
7. Tacos while camping? Definitley! These tacos in a bag from Happy Money Saver are quick and easy.
photo: Jennifer Stoddart via Flickr
8. Prep your s’mores kit at home, and eliminate all of the extra wrappers and packaging! Look at this one by Posh Home and get inspired.
9. Serve up some comfort food with this campfire mac ‘n’ cheese by Lauren’s Latest.
10. Add a sweet ending to the evening with these baked apples by 50 Campfires.
photo: Running with Spoons
11. Keep everyone’s energy up with some of these super easy power bites.
12. Impress everyone with this delicious foil-wrapped salmon with herbs and lemon from Roadtrippers.
13. Mix up and chill a batch of batter ahead of time, so you’re ready for pancakes every morning. Check out this technique by Thrifty DIY Diva.
photo: Philippe Put via Flickr
15. Grab some rocks and pinecones to make an outdoor version of tic-tac-toe. You can grab the instructions from Fun Family Crafts.
16. Keep the whole family entertained for hours by setting up a slackline at the campsite!
17. For the quiet moments, make each of the kids their own little activity kit. Take a peek at these kits from The Coupon Project, made with simple items from the dollar store.
photo: U.S. Dept. of Agriculture via Flickr
18. Tell spooky (or not-so-spooky!) stories around the campfire.
19. Pack some yarn, and you’re ready to craft a few gorgeous nature looms. Learn how over at Craftiments.
20. Spark some creative storytelling moments with these sweet Story Stones by Playdough to Plato.
21. Document every amazing camping moment with these cute paper bag journals by Simply Rachel.
22. Magnetic activity trays are perfect for car rides, or just hanging around the tent. Grab the instructions to make your own right here.
23. Take home a few forest keepsakes by making nature walk tape bracelets, like these bracelets from Alpha Mom.
photo: Howard County Library System via Flickr
24. Bring magic to your campsite by building your own fairy house.
25. Take along a portable art station by repurposing an old DVD case.
26. Enjoy the night sky with some family stargazing.
26. Teach your little treasure hunters the art of Geocaching! Learn how to get started here.
28. Set up a nighttime game of glow in the dark bowling.
Hacks to Make Life Easier
photo: Emran Kassim via Flickr
29. To keep the sleeping area less cluttered, set up a separate play tent for the kids and designate toys to that area.
30. Instead of ice, freeze jugs of water or cartons of juice for the cooler. You’ll have less watery mess, and nice cold drinks when they thaw.
31. Tote some of your gear in a large Tupperware bin. After you unpack, the bin makes a great toddler bathtub at the campsite for dirty, sticky explorers!
32. Throw a few glow sticks in the cooler to make it easier to find your drinks and snacks in the dark.
photo: Abigail Batchelder via Flickr
33. While you’re at it, pick up a few extra packs of glow bracelets and necklaces at the dollar store. The kids will love wearing them at night, and you’ll always know exactly where they are. Plus, you can wrap a few around your tent stakes to avoid tripping in the dark.
34. Use an inflatable kiddie pool full of blankets and pillows for an ultra-cozy stargazing and story spot.
35. Stick solar lanterns around the campsite. They can charge during the day, and light your path at night.
photo: RichardBH via Flickr
36. Take a bag of clothespins and string for a makeshift clothesline at the campsite. Great for hanging wet swimsuits, clothing, and towels.
37. Have the ultimate organized camping trip by using a system of packing tubs, like these from Simple Family Preparedness.
38. Pack a lint roller to check everyone’s clothing for ticks after hiking. Genius!
39. Toss some sage bundles into the campfire to keep pesky mosquitos away.
40. Create a simple pop-up trash can by sticking a garbage bag inside a collapsible laundry hamper. Easy to fold up and pack away when you’re done.
photo: Arup Malakar via Flickr
41. For the perfect lantern in the tent at bedtime, attach a headlamp to a gallon water jug.
42. Anyone for a game of Uno? Use travel soap boxes to keep all of your card games nice and neat during your trip.
43. Pack a few of those extra shower caps that you’ve accumulated from hotel stays! Use them to cover dirty and sandy shoes before packing them in your suitcase, or they can be quick and easy covers for picnic foods and salad bowls.
44. Baby wipes, baby wipes, baby wipes. They take care of everything from sticky s’mores hands to sandy beach feet. You can never have too many.
45. Stash a few mesh laundry bags in your gear when you’re packing. They’re perfect for drying sand toys after hitting the beach, keeping dirty laundry separate, or you can even hang a bag of wet dishes to dry in the sunshine.
What are your favorite tips for the best camping trip ever? Let us know in the comments below!
— Anna Doogan