Have fun camping with toddlers? Is it possible? If you’re looking to get away and have a relaxed, stress-free vacation, then you probably don’t want to take your toddlers with you. If, on the other hand, you want to get away and spend some quality time with your family, then these tips may help you keep your active toddlers safe and entertained.
You probably already know if your toddler is a good little traveller. We have twin 2-1/2-year-old boys. One likes to ride in the car and will nod off when he’s tired. The other one has disliked riding in the car since he was a baby.
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He will under no circumstances sleep in the car (maybe for five minutes by accident). When he decides he’s done riding in the car (every fifteen minutes or so) he cries and whines incessantly until daddy threatens to pull the car over.
If you have a toddler that doesn’t like to travel, don’t torture yourselves with a long car ride. It just isn’t worth it. Three hours is about our limit. If we stop when we’re about half way there and let the boys run around and play for a few minutes they do a lot better.
Make sure to bring plenty of snacks in the car. Daddy’s no-food-in-the-car rule was dismissed quickly when we started taking two toddlers on road trips. If you need a quick lunch Lunchables are great. One Lunchable is enough food for two hungry toddlers.
Something else you need to think about when you camp is where your toddlers are going to sleep. If they’re used to sleeping places other than their beds you’ll probably be fine. Our boys have always slept in their cribs and don’t know anything else. Our first camping trip was a disaster.
The boys were 18 months old and we tried to get them to lay down with us on an air mattress in a tent. It took hours to get them settled down at night with a lot of crying involved.
They didn’t nap at all for two days and then we endured six hours home in the car. I have heard others tell of similar experiences with this aged child. If you’re not sure how your child will do you might want to wait until he or she is a little older.
Our camping trips this year have gone much better. The boys are still sleeping in their cribs at home, but we recently bought an RV. My husband slept with one boy in one bed, and I slept with the other boy in a different bed.
They still went to bed much later than normal (after dark) and refused to take a nap, but there was no crying and they had a lot of fun. Two days is all they can handle with that little sleep, but they did great. We have gone on two two-day trips this summer and they slept very well (although I can’t say we did).
If you are tent camping, you might try a portable crib/play pen. I wish we had tried this last summer, I think it may have helped.
Once you get the sleeping thing down, there are some other things to consider when you take your toddler camping.
Make sure there aren’t too many hazards where you will be camping. You might not want to camp right next to a lake, river, etc., anywhere that would be too tempting for your toddler when you’re not looking.
When you are camping you can’t take your eyes off of them for even one second or something could happen to them. It happens that fast! On our first camping trip this year one of our boys tripped and bonked his head on the camper steps, and then the same day stepped off the edge of a swimming pool into the deep end! And I was standing right there both times.
On the other hand, you do want to go somewhere where there are fun things for your toddler to see and experience. Rivers and lakes are great places to visit with your toddler.
They love to throw rocks in the water! We drove up to a scenic mountain area where there was still snow and the boys had a great time throwing snowballs at us. There were also many waterfalls to look at.
The campground where we stayed had a lot of easy walking trails that were great for exploring with the boys. We wish we had brought a wagon with us. They would have loved being pulled around in it.
Another thing that we found a necessity when taking two toddlers camping was to bring other family members with us. The boys got to enjoy camping with two grandmas, two grandpas, and an aunt and uncle.
It is a great opportunity to spend time with your extended family, and they love spending time with their grandchildren, niece, nephew, etc. This is big help for mom and dad and takes some of the pressure off.
Hopefully I haven’t discouraged you from taking your toddler camping. We are glad we did this year. It was a great experience for our boys. You don’t need to bring a lot of toys with you, they will have fun exploring with you and experiencing new things. Have fun, they grow fast! Oh, and don’t forget your camera!
Written by Rachel Paxton