Camping in a Tent with Little Ones: 20+ Tips and Tricks

We love to camp but when we tell people we use a tent they are like “WHAT???? You’re crazy! You have 4 little kids!” 


We may be crazy, but it’s a blast! Here are a few of our tent tricks:

1.) Pack outfits. We bundle outfits together one set for each day, 2 swimsuits, 2 PJ sets, a jacket, and extra jeans. 

2.) All shoes go in one bag!

3.) Use a rug or junk towel to put outside the tent to clean feet.

4.) ONLY basic toiletries: toothbrush & paste, hairbrush, shampoo and conditioner, deodorant, hair tie, and body wash. Keep to the “you have to have them if you fall in the mud” strategy.

5.) Rope for a clothesline. Paracord is inexpensive, strong works great to hold swimsuits, life jackets, and towels.

6.) Invest in a giant tarp or canopy. Set this up in front of the tent door to keep rain and the sun out when the door is open. This also is great for extra living space. 


7.) Pack all of your food in the cooler or tote. This keeps critters out and makes it easy for clean up, organization, and easy stacking at camp.

8.) Freeze your meat. This cuts down on the amount of ice and ice packs, and you can fit more. Once you eat a meal or two, space will open to add ice. 

9.) Know your camping grill and cooking tools. Use them at home so you are familiar with the cook times and how they work. Hangry campers are no fun!

10.) Grab a washtub or giant bowl to use for washing hands, dishes, and clothes. This is good for a baby and toddler bath, too.

11.) SOAP! Pack travel or sample sizes of dish soap, hand soap, and laundry soap.

12.) Camp site activities. Use a container with a lid to hold crayons, paper, card games, etc., at the picnic table. Throw toys that can get wet/dirty in a beach bag {dinos, cars, toy soldiers, jacks, shovel, and pail}.

13.) Tote for cooking and camp supplies like pots, pans, cups, bowls, s’more sticks, cooking stove, paper products, paper towel, and mixing spoons. This is also idea for flashlights, lanterns, glow sticks, matches, table cloth and clips, bug spray, and sunscreen, duck tape, fire gloves, and a pocket knife.


14.) Pick a site near the Bathroom. THINK 3 am potty!

15.) Hang a light in the tent. Glow sticks work perfectly for a night light. You can also use them to mark tent stakes to avoid tripping. 

16.) Pack and Play or enclosed yard gate for bed and nap times, which also keeps your toddler out of the fire or road during the day.

17.) Power strip and extension cord. Chargers, plug based lights, and an air mattress pump. Most sites only give you 1-2 outlets.

18.) 5-gallon drink cooler. Fill it with water. This can be used for drinking, washing, and cooking. Also, it is easy enough for kids to help themselves. 

19.) Garbage Bags. Pack wet stuff to go home, dirty clothes, anything covered in dirt or sand, and trash of course. 

20.) Load in order. Pack everything in the order it will be needed when you arrive. Keep some toys easy to get to for kids to play while you set up. 

21.) Give the kids a Job. From collecting firewood, wiping the table, to hanging laundry.

tent camping

What are your tips for tent camping with kids? Do you have a favorite tent? What are your go-to camp activities? Happy Adventuring!

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Magann grew up in the Holly, Brandon, and Grand Blanc school areas. Magann was married to her husband Nathan in 2011 and has 3 energetic boys and 1 little girl. After graduating from Utah Valley University and having her oldest son, Magann decided to become a stay at home mom. They moved back to Michigan from Utah 6 years ago. Magann loves to be busy. She is active in her church and church youth program, a PTO board member, as well as, being involved in a couple of book clubs and kids playgroups. She enjoys making connections with others and enriching their lives. For fun, Magann loves to be outside with friends and family, photography, traveling, planning events, reading a good book or doing something crafty/DIY. Check out her work and projects on Instagram or her website.