When it comes to pitching a tent in the woods, throw in a few 10 and under campers, and it’s a whole new bag of tricks. There are all sorts of head-scratching issues: puzzling sleep situations, food prep problems, and dealing with So. Much. Gear. Thankfully, with these clever camping hacks, fresh air adventures with your pint-sized explorers can be relaxing and fun (we swear!). Scroll down to see them all.
1. Pack tiny towels.
This microfiber towel not only fits in the palm of your hand, but it’s quick-drying and super absorbent, too, which makes for easy cleanup. You can throw it in your pocket or clip it to your day pack. Here’s a great version for under $20.
photo: The KarenD via Flickr
2. Stack your spices.
Use small, stackable plastic containers for spices. That way, you won’t have to drag your entire rack along for the trip.
photo: Guy Sie via Flickr
3. Bring duct tape.
If there’s one thing that can get you out of the woods, it’s duct tape. Use it as an emergency band-aid, tent patch, flashlight holder and much more.
photo: Hilary Perkins via Flickr
4. Power up!
Make a batch (or two) of energy bites. They’re compact, full of protein that’ll keep little bellies full while out hiking, and most of them don’t require refrigeration. Need a little inspiration? Check out our favorite recipes here.
photo: RoseMarie Massaro via Home Confetti
5. Use your six-pack.
After stashing your bottles in the ice chest, save that six-pack holder to use as a utensil organizer. It folds up and packs away with ease, and you can even get crafty and cover with a fun pattern to add a little decor to your campsite. Find the tutorial over at Home Confetti.
photo: Wonderlane via Flickr
6. Tell bugs to buzz off.
Toss a little bundle of sage into the campfire. It’ll keep the mosquitos at bay.
photo and idea credit: A Little Campy
7. Make way for baby.
Create an instantly baby-friendly floor by laying down a set of foam tiles. Your little one’s knees will thank you.
photo and idea credit: Instructables
8. Get creative at the campfire.
Wrap crescent rolls around a barkless Y-shaped stick and cooking it over a fire. Big kids will love to get in on this “baking” action, too. Head over to Instructables to find out more.
photo and idea credit: My Honeys Place
9. Make clean up easy.
Make single-use soap leaves by running a vegetable peeler along a bar of antibacterial soap. Bonus: In a pinch, you can also rub one of the soap leaves on a mosquito bite to relieve the itchiness.
photo and idea credit: Starling Travel
10. Stay organized.
Save yourself serious kitchen hassle by stashing the family’s camping must-haves in a shoe organizer.
photo credit: Brian Green
11. Protect your gear (and little fingers).
You can create a safe place to store tent stakes with a single piece of cardboard. Head over to Brian Green for the details.
photo and idea credit: Home Talk
12. Keep TP dry.
Simply slip a roll into an empty and clean coffee can with a lid. It’s so genius—we can’t believe we didn’t think of this first.
photo and idea credit: The Qi Ranger
13. An old go-to snack is now your go-to fire starter.
Research shows that the chemicals in the Doritos flavor powder teamed with the oils in the chips creates the perfect combo for combustion.
14. Instant coffee that doesn’t taste like your parent’s Folgers.
Chances are once the sun rises, you’ll be desperate for some caffeine, and stat. No Starbucks or coffee maker? No problem! Pack along single serve pouches of Waka Coffee. This freeze-dried instant coffee is made of 100% high quality Arabica beans, sourced from Columbia and packaged in California (translation: it tastes great). Bonus: Waka Coffee donates 4% of their proceeds to charity: water, which brings clean drinking water to people around the globe who desperately need it.
Did we leave any amazing camping with kids hacks off of this list? Tell us about them in the comments section below.
—Gabby Cullen & Ayren Jackson-Cannady