Camping with kids can be a lot of fun and will create some amazing memories for both you and your children. However there is nothing worse than getting to your campsite and realising you’ve forgotten something important.
The easiest way to know what you need to take when you’re camping with kids is to have a checklist. Think about the things you will need for your campsite, your clothes and necessities, cooking and dining and some things to keep you entertained. Most things will be the same every trip you go on. Tick it off as you pack and you’ll be sure that you haven’t forgotten anything.
Sometimes the things you need to take are obvious and easy to remember. Others can tend to be overlooked, and only come into importance when you are away from home and don’t have access to everything. With a handy checklist, hopefully forgetting things will be a thing of the past.
Camping with kids checklist
Tent / Camper Trailer / Caravan – Obviously you will need somewhere to stay. This can be either the traditional camping tent, a camper trailer (which these days comes in various sizes) or a full caravan.
Tent pegs and poles – Bring all the one’s you’ll need, but also pop in a few extras, especially pegs as they can easily break or get bent.
Hammer or mallet – A small hammer or mallet is useful to help put your pegs into the ground, but they can also be used in other situations.
Small axe and shovel – Great if you need to chop wood, dig holes around the campsite and just general usage. You don’t need to have full size ones, as smaller ones are just as useful but take up less space.
Tarp – Great for putting under your tent or using as extra floor space, especially if the ground is damp.
Rope – Use to tie down things if its windier than expected. Its always handy to have a bit of extra rope around.
Clothes line and pegs – There are some camping clothes lines you can get or just use some rope tied from one thing to another. Also don’t forget the pegs so your towels don’t fly away while drying.
Torch and lamps – An absolute necessity for light. There are various options available now a days including rechargeable ones.
Headlamps – A great option for setting up when you need light, but also both your hands.
Spare batteries – It’s a good plan to have some spare batteries for all the things that need them so you don’t get caught out.
Matches or lighter – If using a lighter, make sure it has fuel before you go. Matches are great, but be sure to put them in a waterproof container so they don’t get wet. Wet matches won’t light.
Wood – If you’re campsite allows fires, it may be necessary to bring your own wood. National Parks don’t let you pick up wood from the surrounding areas and you don’t want to get caught out not being able to get some from where you are camping.
Dustpan and bush – To clean out your tent or camper before you pack it away.
Floor mats – Get a few cheap one’s from Bunnings or Kmart that can connect together to use as a door mat. This keeps a fair bit of dirt out of your tent/camper/caravan.
Cable ties – You’ll be amazed what these can be used for, especially when you need to fix something quickly.
Air mattresses (and pump) or camp beds – Something to sleep on is one you don’t want to forget. You can go for a traditional air mattress (don’t forget the air pump) or choose one of the many options of camp beds and stretchers now available. If you need to pump anything up, you can now get 12v pumps that plug into your car or camper. No more back breaking manual pumping up air matresses.
Sleeping bags or bedding – Sleeping bags are a good option for tents and camper trailers. If you’re lucky enough to have a mattress in your trailer or caravan, you can opt for proper sheets and bedding.
Pillows – No one wants to sleep without a pillow.
Kids sleep toys – If your child won’t go to sleep without they’re favourite teddy, then make sure you bring it. It saves a lot of tears at bed time in un unfamiliar place if they’re going to bed with they’re toy.
Clothes and necessities
Clothing – Take as much as you’ll need for your trip and be sure to look at the weather. Remember when camping kids can tend to get messy running around, riding their bikes etc so you might want to put in one or two extra sets of clothes.
Shoes, including good walking shoes and thongs – Make sure you bring shoes appropriate for what you are going be doing. If you have big walks planned, then pack some hiking shoes. If you’re planning on spending most of your time at the beach, then sandals will probably be enough. If you are staying somewhere with amenities blocks, always pack some thongs for walking to the toilet and for wearing in the shower. They aren’t always the cleanest places.
Pajamas – You can get away with day clothes in bed if you need too, but it’s much easier to remember your pj’s.
Jacket, gloves and beanie (in case it’s cold) – Remember you will most likely be sitting outside until you go to bed and night time temperatures can get chilly, even if the days were warm.
Nappies and swim nappies (if needed)
Raincoat – In case it rains.
Swimmers – If you are going to a pool or the beach.
Goggles – If you or your kids use them when swimming.
Hats – An absolute must when camping in Australia, even in winter.
Plastic bag for dirty clothes
Towels (one for each person) plus beach towels – Always take one towel per person for showers. You can also pack beach towels for everyone if you have the space so you don’t constantly have wet towels if you’re also spending the day at the pool or beach.
Toiletries – Pack the essentials such as your toothbrush, toothpaste, brush, deodorant, soap etc.
Toilet paper – Absolutely essential if you are not going to be camping near an amenities block. Even if you are going to be somewhere where there is toilets, it doesn’t hurt to have a spare.
Moisturiser / after sun cream – Just in case you do get a bit sunburnt.
First aid kit – Include things like band-aids, bandages , antiseptic cream, antidiarrheal medicine, antihistamine, paracetamol, thermometer, tweezers.
Regular medication – If anyone in your family needs to take medication of any kind then make sure you remember to pack it.
Hand sanitiser – An easy way to clean your hands before cooking, or if you don’t have access to a lot of water.
Insect repellent – Helps keeps the insects away, especially needed in the summer months.
Mosquito coils – If you’re planning on sitting outside around sunset and after (and isn’t that one of the points of camping), then mosquito’s can be a real pain.
Sunscreen – The last thing you want is a nasty sunburn.
Baby wipes / Antibacterial wipes – Can be used to wipe surfaces, hands and a myriad of other uses.
Cooking and dining
Camp chairs – Everyone needs somewhere to sit. Fold up chairs are perfect for sitting around and chatting, or using as dining chairs around a table.
Table – You can get good tables that fold up for easy packing. Make sure you have one big enough for everyone to sit down and eat together.
Camp Stove – Something to cook with. The easiest thing to use if your camper or caravan doesn’t have a stove is to get a small gas or propane/butane stove from a camping store.
Gas bottle or propane for stove – Check before you leave that you have enough fuel to cook with.
Enough food for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks – A good idea is to meal plan and write out what you will need for however many days you are going away. Don’t forget you will generally need 3 meals a day and snacks too. Kids tend to go through a lot of calories running around the campsite and riding bikes etc.
Condiments such as salt, pepper, tomato sauce, margarine etc – I always have a habit of forgetting margarine for sandwiches, and there would be a mutiny from my family if I forgot the tomato sauce.
Plates, cups and utensils (one of each per person) – You don’t need heaps of plates etc as they just take up room. Make sure you have one of everything for each person and wash up between meals.
Cooking pots and pans – After doing your meal plan pack whatever pots and pans you’ll need to be able to make your desired dishes.
Cooking utensils – tongs, sharp knife, cooking spoon etc. Whatever you need. Make sure your knife has a cover to prevent accidentally cutting yourself and also what it’s kept in.
Cutting board – Get a small chopping board so you don’t need to use a plate to chop up meat or vegetables.
Fridge or esky with ice – You’ll need something to keep your food and drinks cold. You can buy camping fridges but you can easily get away with an esky filled with ice. You’ll just have to replace the ice if you are going away for longer than 1 or 2 days.
Reusable water bottle (one per person) – Save using cups by having a reusable water bottle for each person that can be filled and drunk throughout the day. Its also a great way for kids to get a drink when they need it, rather then asking you every 5 minutes.
Water and other drinks – Make sure you take plenty of water with you (especially if you are camping somewhere that won’t have a reliable supply) as well as any other drinks you will need for the time.
Stubby holders – If you are planning on drinking cans of bottles of something you want to keep cold, then pop a few stubby holders in.
Garbage bags – Always make sure you are putting garbage where it’s supposed to be. If there aren’t large bins to put your rubbish in, then take it home with you and put it in the bin at home. Leave nature the way it was intended.
Foil – Use this for food, or also as a way to get a clean plate on a bbq, because you never quite know how clean public one’s are.
Sponge, cloth, teatowel and dishwashing liquid – For washing up after meals.
Tub for washing dishes – If you’re not at a caravan park or somewhere with a sink you’ll need something to wash up in. You can get collapsible tubs to save space when packing.
Can opener – If you have any tinned food.
Bottle opener – No point bringing cold beers for the end of the day if you can’t get in to them.
Table cloth – Most caravan parks and public areas have picnic tables, however they’re not always particularly clean. A table cloth makes an easy way to use a public table without worrying about the dirt and bird poo.
Fire extinguisher – If you’re going to have a fire of any description, it is worthwhile to have a small fire extinguisher for safety.
Fun and games
Favourite games / balls – While there are a lot of things to explore when your camping, it doesn’t hurt to bring a few of the kids favourite games and a footy or soccer ball to play around with.
Colouring books and pencils – Sometimes you need a bit of quite time or for the kids to have a rest without sleeping. Colouring in can be a good way to get the kids to rest before their next big adventure.
Pack of cards – Always sa good staple when camping. There’s nothing better than a few card games after dinner.
Books – If you read normally to the kids before bed its good to pack a couple of go to books to get them to wind down at the end of the day. And if the kids love reading at home, then they will likely want a few moments to relax and read in a great setting. Pop in one for you too, you never know if you might get a few minutes to yourself.
Bikes / scooters – Caravan parks are mostly welcoming to kids with bikes and scooters and they are generally a safe place to ride around as long as the kids follow a few safety rules. If you can fit them in, bikes and scooters are a fantastic way for the kids to have fun while camping.
Helmet – If you’re going to ride, you’ll need a helmet.
Camera – Capture precious memories and some great scenery by brining a camera. If you don’t have a proper one, then use your phone.
Chargers for electronics – If you don’t have a power source, try to get 12v chargers you can plug into your car to charge anything you need like phones, cameras and rechargeable lamps.
You may need more, or less, stuff than this depending on the type of camping you’re doing, where you are going and your family’s needs, however this should be a good guide to get you started. If you’d like a printable version of this checklist to keep handy when you’re packing, then sign up below and we’ll email it to you.