Packing for any family camping trip can be a hassle; tents, sleeping bags, food and personal-hygiene items are a must, but what else? It is almost inevitable to suffer from that feeling of having forgotten something crucial. No matter what type of camping your family enjoys, before embarking into nature, remember these 10 things to pack for a family camping trip.
Camping trips often result in more than a few bumps and scrapes. This makes a well-stocked first-aid kit an essential piece of gear. A good first-aid kit should include a guide book, everything needed to treat cuts of varying sizes, burn cream and any medications your family may need.
Even an expert fisher or hunter should bring additional food. However, it is not just the marshmallows and chocolate you need to bring on your camping trip. Plenty of clean water and ice is essential, while rope is more practical in bear country. To prevent a bear from visiting your campsite, keep all food in a bear canister. The Sierra Interagency Black Bear Group warns that not even those camping in vehicles are safe from bear attacks. Bears will often break windows of cars and campers to retrieve food from inside if the food is not stored properly.
It is Murphy’s Law that, no matter where or when you go camping, it will certainly rain if you are not prepared for rain. Waterproof tarps, umbrellas, matches and dry bags are all useful for rainy days. These items will keep your gear and family dry for the duration of the rain.
While camping is usually a dirty recreation, it is still nice to clean up a little. Every family should bring two crucial cleaning supplies, dish soap to clean camping dishes and wet wipes to clean up hands, faces and any other gross smudges. These wipes also work as a great refresher when you have to skip a shower or two. A quick swipe under the armpits and you are ready to go again.
Whether seeking wild animals, looking for a drink or simply trying to navigate your way to the nearest outhouse, a flashlight is never a bad idea when camping. Don’t forget the extra batteries.
Whether camping in the heat of summer or the chill of autumn, it is always wise to dress your family in layers. The University of Princeton suggests packing wool clothing to keep dry and polypropylene and fleece to stay warm at night. Layer these materials with normal seasonal clothing.
With rates of West Nile virus climbing, it is important to carry insect repellent on every family camping trip. This is a particularly important piece of gear for families with young children, as they suffer the most from the West Nile virus.
Is camping really camping without a campfire? Of course you will pack the matches, but it is also important to be responsible campers. Teach your kids about the importance of fire safety by packing a small shovel and using it to cover a doused campfire with dirt. This prevents the fire from rekindling and causing a forest fire.
While it is a good idea to leave all laptops, PSPs and iPods at home, it is still nice to bring some family-friendly entertainment. Bring a deck of cards and play a round of go-fish or blackjack for older children. Pack a few board games to play in case of rain. Pack fishing poles and swimsuits for waterside campsites. This time with the whole family offers a fun bonding experience for everyone, no matter the activity.
One of the most important things to pack for a family camping trip is enough sunscreen for the whole family. The American Cancer Society warns that skin cancer is the most common type of cancer. A bad sunburn at a young age greatly increases the chance of developing skin cancer. This makes sunscreen one of the best cancer-prevention tools parents have in their arsenal.