Camping and hiking with toddlers. A lot of people can feel overwhelmed with this idea so they opt not to do it… but if you’re prepared and plan your trips out well ahead of time it’s so fun to make these special memories with kiddies outdoors and give them new experiences. We have always loved to camp and roam in the middle of nowhere, and when I was pregnant with my first son, my husband and I both wanted to make sure that we kept doing this once he was born. Neither of us wanted our adventures to stop. We love giving our little man new opportunities and experiences and the opportunity to run wild, get dirty, and let his imagination be free.
My top tips for camping with toddlers are pretty simple, but they have made our life a little bit easier and also made it so we are always prepared.
If you’ll be traveling far to your destination… plan ahead and have lots of car activities and snacks! I like to bring some of his favorite familiar car friendly toys, as well as a new book or two so he has something new to catch his attention once he gets bored of everything else. 😉 This helps him feel at ease with something familiar and also give him something new to keep his brain engaged. I’m not a big fan of sticking him in front of devices… so this is an entertainment activity to keep him occupied without it. Healthy snacks are also a great thing to have on hand and ready to grab quickly if you’ll be traveling around meal times. Keep them in the car close by so you won’t need to rummage through all your food bins packed away when they get hungry…. which they will!
Take lots of clothes… and then take more 😉 Prepare for them to get DIRTY. It’s so good to let them be free and play. A lot of times at home I find myself saying, “no” a lot, and trying to keep him out of the dirt… so when we are camping I try to make sure I just let him play and do my best not to worry about it. It’s so good for boys (and kids in general) to be active and play. It helps them learn social skills, set boundaries, and helps with their brain development. When you just know this ahead of time, it’s easier to let them be, then just change their clothes later. Which I have to do quite often. 😉 Also, know ahead of time if you’ll be by lakes and rivers and then prepare for them to get wet. Make sure you have multiple pairs of shoes, so when one pair does get wet- you have a dry pair to change them into.
One thing we both have loved, is the fact that we have a good, trusty, hiking backpack. We would both recommend to invest in a good quality pack so you can still do things you love and explore the trails by your camp site. The pack we have in all of our pictures is our favorite Osprey hiking backpack (it’s linked for you on our page full of Amazon favorites so you can see the exact one!) Out of all of the hiking packs we have tried, this one is by far our favorite and the quality and durability is far greater than any others.
We have used this with our son since he was 6 months old. It’s been the best for when we needed to carry him the whole time on our hikes, and even now that he is a little older and likes to walk part of the way himself, we still always have it so when his little legs get tired we can give him a break and still head down the trails, or make it back to camp! It’s light weight enough that it doesn’t weigh your shoulders down, and it’s been so durable the past two years that we will still be able to use it for our next little dude when he arrives! Plus, there is a pop out shade tent that is perfect for sunny hiking days! Worth the investment!!
Even if it’s summer make sure you always are prepared for inclement weather…. you never know if a flash flood, thunderstorm, windstorm, etc will hit and when you’re in nature, the weather can change so fast. So be prepared for the unexpected… which leads me to my next point.
Make sure you have a first aid kit! You never know what you will encounter when out in the mountains so make sure you are prepared, and always check the contents BEFORE you leave, so you can refill anything that was used last time you might have forgotten about. If it’s the middle of the night and someone gets sick you’ll be glad that you have it full. Plus make sure you have sunscreen!!! A lot of people forget this one, so I always keep some in our first aid kit.
As well as having bandages and wraps at all times, I always have my natural medicine first aid kit too full of essential oils that our family uses all the time. I get a lot of questions about this, so here are my top oils to always have on hand.
Lavender: This oil can soothe dry itchy skin from sunburns and bug bites. Plus it can help you relax and sleep at night… which sometimes can be tough to do in a tent or trailer.
Peppermint: This one is a great one for nausea and fevers! Rub a few drops on the back of your neck and feet with some lavender to help with relief. It’s also great for sore muscles after you’ve been hiking all day. Plus this oil can help get rid of ants and spiders! So if your camp site seems to be infested with bugs make sure to pull this oil out!
Copaiba: This is the oil that is the teething king! Which, if you have young littles you know is the worst…. and when it hits your babe you’ll do anything for instant relief! A quick swipe of this on the gums will help soothe the inflammation.
Tea Tree- The best oil for wound care and bug bites because it’s known for it’s antiseptic properties. Mix this with lavender when you need it! This is also a great oil to use with Citronella to repel mosquitoes.
Thieves- The immune boosting blend if someone gets sick or unwell in the middle of the night while you’re away! This oil can help kick the ick 😉 Also, another favorite trick of mine is to use this oil to help pull out splinters! (Great for toddlers that don’t like you to use the tweezers.) Put a drop of oil on the splinter and cover with a band-aid and watch it come out on it’s own!
Citronella- repels bugs of all kinds! I like to drop this oil around the perimeter of our camp site. (If you have a battery operated diffuser this oil is great to diffuse too and keep everything away.)
Geranium – This oil is the best to repel annoying horse flies…. which seem to be everywhere and everyone hates!
I also like to make an all natural bug spray without the toxic chemicals. In a spray bottle mix in 10 drops of the following oils and then top with water… Lavender, Citronella, Tea Tree, Peppermint, and Lemongrass. Works so good and doesn’t have any of the yucky ingredients some of the store bought bug sprays have.
If you want to learn more about essential oils, and the kind I use… click HERE
While this list might seem silly to some, it’s nice to always have what we need on hand. Sometimes camping with kids can take some trial and error, but we always find it beneficial for all of us when we get out in nature and recharge our souls. Because little nature lovers, turn into big nature lovers! We’re slowly creating a family of explorers!!