Planning for your next family camping trip

Family camping trips are great bonding activities for everyone.

Family camping trips are great vacation options. They're versatile, so you can plan any kind of trip to meet your family's needs. Whether you want to rent a camper or stay in a tent, go for a week or a weekend, stay nearby or travel far, or spend your time at an established site or set up yourselves in the woods, you can create the perfect getaway for bringing the whole family together.

All it takes is a little bit of planning to help execute the perfect camping trip. Read on for a few of our suggestions:

"Backpacking adventures can mean you set up camp wherever you are."

Choosing the right location
Before you embark on any camping trip, you should have a sense of where you intend to stay. This doesn't always have to mean knowing exactly where you'll end up – long trips or backpacking adventures can mean you set up camp wherever you are when it's time to prepare for the night. But you need to plan appropriately either way for the kind of experience you intend to have.

Families that are interested in really roughing it may choose to go to an approved wooded area and set up their own primitive camp. This method usually guarantees more solitude and space from campsite neighbors, and often means getting away from the noise and light of nearby towns and cities. It's a great option for those who really like nature and feel comfortable on their own and without modern amenities.  

But for some people, especially families with younger children, being too removed can be uncomfortable. You may feel safer in a settled campsite with people nearby and access to electricity. In case of an emergency, it'll be easier to get help and address the problem. Many campgrounds also have options for public restrooms and showers for those who want to spend time in the wilderness but would like a few comforts during their stay. 

Set campsites often book in advance, so be sure to look up reservations ahead of time.

Packing your gear
The supplies you bring on a camping trip are essential. Check sleeping bags, tents and cooking equipment you want to pack to ensure they're all in good working conditions before you go – the last thing you want is to be out in the woods with your tent, only to realize it's torn and won't stay up! 

You may also want to consider sleeping pads, air mattresses or tarps to put under your sleeping bags to make it easier to sleep comfortably during the night. After all, you'll need all the energy you can get for the outdoor activities you have planned! 

Safety items are essential as well. Keep a fully stocked first-aid kit on hand, as well as flashlights, batters, weather radios and backup cell phone chargers. If you're going into the woods and fear you may lose cell service, consider investing in a satellite phone. 

Prepare your wardrobe for the elements when you pack. Think in layers – it may get cool at night in some areas, especially if you're camping in the mountains. Bring long sleeved shirts, sweatshirts, thick socks and hats just in case it's chilly. Bring tough hiking books that will be good for the elements. 

Always check that you're allowed to have a fire at your campsite before you build one. If you've gotten the green light for your planned destination, pack water-proof matches and a fire starter. Remember to never transport fire wood across state lines. 

Planning your meals
A cooler can be helpful for bringing food on a camping trip, but you'll need to have the means to keep it cold. Some coolers designed for camping can last for days. Others may need to be replenished with ice more often. Never eat foods that have warmed up to room temperature for more than an hour – the risk of food poisoning is too high. 

Make sure that all of your foods are easily portable and can be prepared at your campsite. Invest in a camp stove if you'd like to cook, or perhaps a small grill. Again, it's important to note the fire prevention rules of the area you're camping at beforehand. 

Hydration is critical when you're camping, so bring plenty of potable water for everyone to drink all day long. 

Proper food storage will prevent attracting wild animals. Bring garbage bags for all your trash and hang the bags in trees away from your campsite. When you leave, take your trash with you. Never leave food out. 

Camping is a fun pastime that can help you all bond and build memories together. Plan fun outdoor activities like fishing or hiking, or unplug for awhile and sit down for card games and story telling. Whatever you decide to do on your trip is up to you, just be sure to plan accordingly before you go!

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