For this one night excursion with our kids we have tried our very best to limit the amount of stuff we are bringing. I have especially focused on clothing, toys, and food.
My goals were:
1) To not bring extra clothes- to bring just what we needed, pajamas for each child, sweats and a sweatshirt, and shorts and tee-shirts. Doing this is keeping the packing light, however we will see if we run into issues.
2) To only bring books, stickers, and coloring books. I hoping these items will keep the kids entertained both in the van and at the campsite in between hikes and outdoors fun.
3) To not eat out on our trip. One of the great things about camping as a family is that is can be a really inexpensive way to have a fun family trip. However, when you start stopping at places for a quick bite, feeding a family of 5 can quickly become very expensive.
Below is a small taste of what we are bringing with us.
The food in the picture does not include dinner for Wednesday night (Tortilla Soup which I made today, and will be warmed over the camp stove), or the fixings for sandwiches, or string cheese. These items are all together in on one shelf in the refrigerator.
This may seem like a lot of food for 5 people (especially when one is a baby who won't be eating any of this) but the best thing to do with kids on a trip is make sure their blood sugar level never gets to low.
And now, here comes 2 of MANY important tips you will read about on this blog.
Tip #1: The day before you are leaving, it would be most beneficial to plan on eating leftovers for dinner that night. This helps keep you focused on packing and prepping food for camping, and not scrambling in the kitchen preparing and cleaning up a meal. I did not do this today and I am greatly regretting it. Don't have leftovers (that was our problem) it is best to do the quickest thing you have- such as sandwiches or macaroni and cheese, or even offering cold cereal for dinner. Just remind your kids that yummy camping food (SMORES) are coming their way.
Tip #2: Keep something quick and easy (and yummy) ready for dinner when you return home from your camping adventure. Most likely you won't be eating dinner at your campsite, and you will be tired from returning from your adventure. This may make it very tempting to want to grab a bite on the road or bring take out home with you. STOP! These little costs add up and make your inexpensive vacation: expensive. Instead, plan ahead. Keep a frozen pizza on hand. You can throw that in the oven while you work on unloading the camping gear. This is another thing I haven't done for this trip- and I wish I had. So, in order to avoid eating out on our way home, we will be eating a bigger lunch (mac and cheese with green beans and fruit) at our campsite before we load up, and then on the road we will eat lighter sandwiches. Most likely when we return I will pop a bag of popcorn and slice up some apples, that way everyone has some finger food while we get unpacked and ready for bed.
Getting ready for camping with kids can seem like the most exhausting part, often leaving you discouraged and tired before you even leave. Try and remember every thing doesn't need to be perfect (although the benefits of coming home to a clean kitchen are amazing) and that you can stop at a grocery store if you forget something vital.
Stay focused on the fun that's coming your way- and get some sleep!