Camping with kids: What to pack, where to go, and what to do

By Eleanor Stanesby

If you've decided it's time to take a camping trip this year and completely disconnect in the beautiful outdoors, you've come to the right place. It's time to pry all electronic devices away from the clutching grips of the kids and achieve the quality family time that you've been hoping for!

With no phones or Internet to distract you from the serene views or wildlife, this is the best way to truly take in the natural wonders that the world has to offer. We're here to give you some tips on how to get the most out of your camping (or glamping!) trip—giving you and the kids some memorable adventures in nature you'll never forget.

What to pack

Packing for a camping trip with kids takes a lot of planning ahead, which usually involves a lengthy checklist to help keep you on track. There are the obvious things that all camping trips need, including appropriate clothing, snacks, and more, but we don't want you to forget other items that will ensure the kids are entertained and safe, ultimately making the trip easier and more enjoyable for everyone.

Check out this essentials list to ensure the trip goes of without a hitch:

  1. S'mores ingredients: Make the ultimate camping trip treat with a few simple ingredients that are easily packed: graham crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate bars. The kids will love hunting for sticks to roast the marshmallows on!

  2. Outdoor games: A bat and ball or water games will provide some healthy family competition.

  3. Card games: Before bedding down for the night, play some family card games for a relaxing finish to an adventurous day.

Those essentials give you the entertainment factor of the trip, but keeping safe is also important. A trip to the emergency room should never be on the agenda, so be sure to pack the following, too.

  1. First aid kit

  2. Sun screen

  3. Wet wipes

During outdoor adventures kids are bound to fall over and graze their knee, possibly get sunburned, and are definitely are going to get muddy. These three crucial items will keep you prepared for all possibilities.

Where to go

When choosing where to go, there's one crucial thing to keep in mind: there should be places for the kids to explore or take part in activities. Kids love to have something to do or focus on, and watching them discover a new piece of nature or wildlife or achieve something in the outdoors is sure to be one of their favorite memories—and definitely yours.

National parks

For an ambitious camping trip head to a national park, where waking up surrounded by diverse natural wonders is a unique experience in and of itself. Most national parks boast millions of acres of land to curiously explore, and with something different to discover every day, the kids will never get bored.

Have you considered Yellowstone National Park in particular? Spanning Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho, you can choose the perfect backdrop for your family trip. Whether it be mountains, lakes or waterfalls, you'll be spoiled for choice with all of this National Park's incredibly distinct landscapes.

Alternatively, spend a night under the towering redwood trees in Redwood National Park. Located on the coast of Northern California, there are a number of accommodations and campgrounds tucked in and around the trees, giving you a truly nature-based experience in the private and peaceful woodlands.

Lakefront stays

If your looking for a more rustic camping trip and national parks or forests don't appeal to you, a summer trip is sure to be the most successful at a local lake. You can cool off with a delightful afternoon swim or search for some adrenaline-filled water sports the kids will love trying their hand at.

Upstate New York may be your ideal camping destination if you go this route—thanks to the fact that it's home to over 7,600 freshwater lakes, ponds, and reservoirs. It even has part of two of the five Great Lakes, too! One of our family-friendly favorites is Lake George, which is located at the southeast of the famous Adirondack Mountains.

Your ideal accommodation in Lake George: this family-friendly yurt!

What to do

Another benefit to planning your camping trip ahead of time is the ability to avoid hearing the ever-dreaded, "I'm bored," during your time away. Here are some of our top tips of how to ensure you hear nothing more than "Thank you for this amazing trip!" and some gentle breathing from fast-asleep kiddos at the end of the day.

1. Involve the kids

Kids love to be involved in all aspects of a camping trip, including meal planning. Make a plan that allows them to be a part of the fun, no matter if that's helping you gril out over a fire or on the barbecue or going to pick some fresh seasonal fruit for dessert.

2. Fun and games

Brainstorm some ideas that truly immerse the kids in the surrounding nature, such as a scavenger hunt. With so many printable, ready-to-go lists available online, it's easy for you to prepare in advance, and the kids will be able to spend hours of excitement in search of every last item on their list.

3. Go on a hike

There is bound to be a hiking trail near your accommodation or camping site, from which you can spend the afternoon exploring at your family's pace. Observing the children's faces as they take in the natural wonders will be a better sight than the actual view.

4. It's the little things

It's usually the little things that get ingrained into a child's memory about their family's outdoor trips and helps them be able to recount these stories as they get older. The innate curiosity within them allows kids to get immense joy from simple things, like skimming pebbles on a lake for hours, jumping in muddy puddles, or spotting wildlife they've never seen.

While camping with kids may come with a lot of preparation, once the trip is in full swing, it will be well worth the planning, for all the smiles, memories and laughter that is sure to be had.


Continue exploring other kid-approved getaway options, starting with one of our most popular accommodation collections—family-friendly tree houses on the West Coast!

How to pack for a camping trip with your dog

By Eric Wright

Spending time exploring vast national parks and the great outdoors is an ideal way to bond and create long-lasting memories with your furry best friend, but we all know that packing for a camping trip can be tough—especially when the trusty pooch is tagging along for the ride. The checklist can seem overwhelming at times, so here are some essential items to make sure you and your pup have an unforgettable time and stay safe out in the wild.

1. 20-foot cable leash and stake

Whether Fido is a dependable, free-roaming spirit or a little hard to keep under control, having a long leash and a reliable stake is crucial for owners and their pets to make the most of the scenic landscape. Once that epic peak has been conquered, take some much-needed rest while your four-legged pal has a nap, safe in the knowledge he's not going to be running off on an impromptu quest to meet more of the locals!

2. An ID tag

With the incredibly inquisitive nature of our canine companions, one of the most critical items to remember, the ID tag, is the last line of defense if the unthinkable happens and your pooch does wander off. Make sure to provide all relevant contact details so you can be reunited if your furry friend decides to explore a bit by himself.

3. Dog backpack

Photo courtesy of Ruffwear.

Hiking in the mountains can be exhausting, so why not make your companion work a little for his supper? These handy dog backpacks allow pets to pick up some of the slack and help their owners have a more relaxing day out. The packs come in a selection of sizes, from dainty Chihuahua varieties to heavy-duty Saint Bernard ones, and remembering to pack one of these on your next getaway will be a weight off your shoulders—literally.

4. First aid kit

With seemingly endless mountains, rivers, and lakes on the agenda for most camping trips, there's the outside chance of your pup getting himself in a sticky situation. Make sure you're ready for any potential hiccups by preparing some essential medical supplies, including bandages for any scrapes, hydrogen peroxide (in case anything toxic is ingested), antibiotic ointment, and tick medication.

5. Portable dog bowl

Photo courtesy of Ruffwear.

One of the most basic items for our pets is their bowl, and on a camping trip, less is more in terms of space. These useful bowls are collapsible, sealable, and small—making them a vital piece of equipment to take on those long treks. Be sure to pack some of your pup's favorite treats to reward them for their hard work on that adrenaline-pumping hike in the peaks.

6. Dog sleeping bag

If your pup's used to some of the finer things in life, you may want to pack one of these water-resistant sleeping bags to keep little Baxter happy and warm after a day out exploring. The handy bedding comes in a range of sizes to suit any dog and affords some of those creature comforts of home, even while on a wild adventure in the mountains.

7. Collar light

Photo courtesy of K9 of Mine.

Exploring new terrain and discovering natural wonders is top of the list a lot of camping trips and after sundown, keeping an eye on what the pooch is up to can be difficult, especially if your pet has a dark coat. These cheap and simple LED collars are the perfect solution to avoid any unnecessary night-time panic.

8. Dog coat

Whether your pet's fur is shaggy and long or short and straight, as dusk approaches and temperatures drop off, Fido may be feeling a tad on the chilly side. These trendy, weatherproof, and waterproof coats offer a simple way for pets to stay toasty warm even on cold winter nights, as well as temporarily turning your pooch into an enviable fashionista!


For more tips on traveling with your dog, keep on reading, with a guest post by Jessica Brody of Our Best Friends.

Glamping uncovered: A history

By Jackie Dreyer

We know we've given some brief insight into the what glamping is before, but it's time to dig deep. We're also guessing that by now you all probably know that you can opt for a tree house or a luxury tent instead of a night on the ground in a sleeping bag—so it's time to go back to the source, as far back in time as we can, to when people were glamping before they even had a word for it.

Prehistory

The first piece of evidence that points to human activity in the America are stone tools from 11,500 RCBP, which pertain to the Clovis culture of the Paleo-Indians. Later, around roughly 10,000 BCE, the first evidence of tipi dwellings, alternatively spelled as teepee, were discovered.

"Archaeologists have found indications that dwellings made from a series of wooden poles existed that long ago by carbon dating soil samples taken from what appears to be the remains of ancient campsites or villages," according to Teepee Joy. There is additional archaeological evidence from 7,500 BCE in the form of stone rings, as stones were used to hold down the exterior of the tipi.

While often attributed to all Native Americans in the U.S., tipis are, in fact, unique specifically to the indigenous people of the Great Plains and Canadian Prairies in North America, as stated in the National Museum of the American Indian's book, "Do All Indians Live in Tipis?". The structure of a tipi was convenient for ease of disassembly, particularly when tracking game and highly compatible with a nomadic lifestyle.

Photo courtesy of Encyclopedia of the Great Plains.

6th century

The yurt—which nowadays is a popular and well-known type of glamping—was also favored by nomadic cultures, because yurts are notoriously easy to take apart in one place and put back together in another, as well as they can easily withstand inclement weather.

It is said that the first yurts were created by the Buryat Mongolian community of Siberia, dating back to roughly 600 BCE—thanks to the discovery of a bronze bowl from the period that was discovered in Iran. There are two main types of yurts—the ger and the bentwood—the former of which was the style developed and used by Mongolian tribes.

Photo courtesy of Mine Mongolia Blog.

13th century

Genghis Khan, the founder of the Mongol Empire, ruled from a sizable ger, but since the empire was so geographically extensive, it's said that his ger was never fully broken down, but instead simply put on a wheeled cart and towed by oxen from one location to the next.

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

The spread of the Mongol Empire lead the popularity of the yurt to spread with it, and thus, people in Eastern Europe, in countries like Turkey, Hungary, and Romania, started to use yurts, too. According to National Geographic, "Yurts remained very common in Turkey until the 1960s and 1970s, and they are still found in rural areas of Hungary."

16th and 17th century

Scotland

In Scotland, John Stewart, 3rd Earl of Atholl, put together what could be called the first luxury camping site in the U.K. for King James V and his mother in the Scottish Highlands—filling the tents' interiors with luxurious furnishings and adornments from his own palace.

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

France

From June 7 to 24, 1520, a diplomatic summit called the Field of the Cloth of Gold was held in Balinghem, France—a tournament to help forge a friendship between King Henry VIII of England and King Francis I of France after the Anglo-French treaty of 1514. Here, roughly 2,800 tents and marquees were set-up, surrounded by fountains from which red wine flowed.

Turkey

The Turkish Ottomans were also known for setting up lavish tents for a number of different types of events, including "military campaigns, ceremonies and celebrations, and country excursions by the sultans and their subjects," according to TurkishCulture.org.

When on campaign, the imperial tents for the sultan were particularly lavish and essentially mobile palaces. There were two of them so that while the sultan was in one, they could pitch the other in his next destination to have it ready for the sultan's arrival. French archaeologist, Antoine Galland, even wrote in the late 17th century that the sultan's tents were so large that they were carried on six hundred camels.

Photo courtesy of Pinterest.

Professor Nurhan Atasoy describes the Ottoman's tents in the following manner:

"The exquisite ornamentation both inside and out of the tents used by the Ottoman sultans made them imposing dwellings fit for a ruler. On ceremonial occasions, tents served to create a splendid theatrical setting, as we see vividly portrayed in miniature paintings depicting banquets, audiences, and celebrations, which took place in the imperial tent complex over the centuries. The imperial tents were richly decorated as if they were pavilions and often had designs resembling tiled panels, usually in floral patterns, either in appliés work, using cloth of different colours, or embroidered in various stitches using silk and metal thread."

20th century

Fast forward to the early 20th century to when going on an African safari became the popular adventure of choice for wealthy American and British travelers. Often, these trips were made for society's upper crust to try their hand at shooting game, largely the "Big 5," i.e., lions, leopards, rhinoceroses, elephants, and Cape buffaloes.

Despite their desire to get down and dirty and go hunting, these travelers were not willing to sacrifice the comforts of home for the thrill of the hunt—which meant the safari tents they stayed in were well-equipped with the luxuries they were accustomed to, including everything "from electric generators, to folding baths, and cases of champagne," according to "Safari: A Chronicle of Adventure" by Bartle Bull.

Photo of Americans Martin and Osa Johnson, courtesy of Safari Consultant.

21st century

The U.K. Glamping Association attributes the rise of glamping in the late 1990s all the way back to international financial crisis that hindered foreign travel and caused the staycation trend to start. Add to that when, in 1997, the right to tow a caravan was removed from the U.K. driving license, and people had to start looking for a new, yet affordable, type of way to go on holiday. With little camping experience and lots of hotel experience, people incidentally invented a new way of traveling—glamping.

Flash forward to 2007, when, according to Google Trends, people began searching for the word "glamping," with most of these searches coming from Ireland and the U.K. By 2010, glamping began to take off; by 2013, it had seen a major rise in popularity in the U.K.; by 2014, it started to make a name for itself in the U.S.; and by 2016, "glamping" was officially added to the dictionary.

Screenshot of rise in searches for the word "glamping" in the United States from 2004 to today, courtesy of Google Trends.

Today, glamping is more popular than ever and on a global scale. Glamping Hub alone has grown from having 5,000 accommodation on the website in 2016 to over 34,000 glampign rentals at present in 2019—ranging from tree houses, tipis, and yurts to domes, cabins, cottages, and more.

There are now major glamping markets across the world, including in the U.S. (with the largest in California, Texas, New York, Colorado, and Washington), Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, in addition to the aforementioned U.K. While there is still plenty of room to grow across the board, the presence of glamping sites is recognized, albeit not yet on the same level, in Europe, Asia, other parts of North America (Mexico), Central America, and South America.

A tree house in the Redwoods of Santa Cruz, California.

And who's typically going glamping? Ruben Martinez, Co-Founder of Glamping Hub, said, "Baby boomers and millennials are looking for a change in the way they typically travel, and glamping fits well for both—baby boomers, because they have a disposable income, are looking for comfort, and they've already done it all; millennials, because they're always looking for unique experiences." Martinez went on to tell Forbes:

"We find a good number of people who are going glamping live in cities. They're looking to disconnect from day-to-day life but don't necessarily want to travel across the country or go to Europe. They want to be able to take weekend trips within driving distance. They want to be outdoors, but they don't want to rough it. Many Americans are very comfortable with the idea of camping, and glamping offers you everything you love about camping without everything you hate about it."

Further reinforcing the spike in popularity in the U.S. specifically is the start of the American Glamping Association in April 2018 and the Global Glamping Summit event series, the second of which just happened in November 2018 in California.


Want to see what types of glamping are available for you to plan the trip of a lifetime to this year? Click here to explore your options!