How To Plan Your First Tent Camping Trip?
Updated: May 24
You've decided that you want to take your family on its first tent camping trip. This trip can be the beginning of a fantastic way to spend your family time. Whether your camping for a weekend or an entire week, there is a list of items to consider to make this trip a success. No matter where you will be camping, in a National or State Park, at the beach, at an RV or Tenting Park on a Lake, these locations all require planning for the best possible outcome.
What tips should I consider when planning my family's first tent camping trip? Many items come into play when planning your first camping trip with the family. The following items should be considered to help you have a fantastic time away with the family.
What size tent do I need?
Do a dry run of your camping trip in your backyard.
Camp close to home.
Plan Your Location Carefully.
What amenities does your location offer?
Plan your Clothing based on the weather and the location and season when you will be camping.
Consider and Monitor the Weather.
Plan Your Meals and Consider How you will be cooking.
Keep the whole family in mind, so everyone enjoys the experience.
Plan for bad weather.
These tips will help you plan and organize your family's first camping outing. No matter where you go or when you go, you need to do this fundamental step to have a fantastic adventure. These tips are the starting point. From here, you will develop a system that you will use every time you head out on your tent camping experience.
Once this system is in place, you will be able to bug out at a moment's notice. Being able to head out with little formal planning makes for spontaneous weekends and time with the family. This time is the best time and can never be replaced.
Now let's take a closer look at the top items for you to consider.
What Size Tent Will I Need For My Family?
This question is one of the most essential items to consider. Your tent will be supplying you and your family shelter during your stay. It would help if you were sure that you have ample space to enjoy your time during the trip.
The first question to answer is if all of your family will be sleeping in the same tent. If you have older children, they might not enjoy sleeping with Mom and Dad. In this instance, you can have them sleep in their own tent and enjoy a more personal relationship with nature.
If your children are younger or want the entire family together for some one-on-one bonding, then maybe an extended tome tent or multi-room tent might fit the ticket. Just remember, these tents are more significant and more challenging to set up, especially if this is your first time.
Dome Tents and Instant Cabin Tents are the easiest to setup. So now you need to pick the size. The best rule of thumb is that if the tent is rated for six persons, it will offer great comfort to four families. Whatever the tent occupant rating, you need to subtract two persons to allow the best comfort level.
Should I do a camping dry-run in my back yard?
Yes, Yes, Yes. I can't stress this fact enough. You now have that new tent still in the box. It would help if you practiced setting it up in daylight in a familiar and safe environment. This step will help you become acquainted with your new tent and make sure that all of the components are available.
It would help if you practiced pitching your tent and packing up your tent. Also, it is a great time to check the operation of your lanterns and radio. Check all batteries, and be sure you have tools such as a hammer or hatchet so that you can split wood and pound into your tent stakes.
Finally, take a couple of nights to sleep either on the ground in your backyard or the floor inside your house. Now you can determine how you will sleep and if you will need a sleeping mat or air mattress to get a great night's rest on your family tenting adventure.
From experience, I can tell you that I have pitched a tent in the dark and the rain and even in the night during the rain. This setup can be very stressful if you have no idea how to pitch the tent. Unfortunately, things happen, and you could get stuck in traffic and arrive after dark, or a spot storm that came out of nowhere. These items do happen and usually more often when you haven't planned for them.
Knowing your tent's setup might be the saving grace that starts your trip on the correct foot.
Should my first camping trip be close to home?
By all means, YES. Choose a location no more than a couple of hours from home. If something goes wrong, you won't be spending the day trying to get to the site or get back home.
Personally, I would try to keep this to one hour, but depending on where you live, you may need to travel out a little farther to find an interesting place to set your tent for the weekend.
This location close to your home will ensure that you get to your campsite early enough in the day so that you aren't setting up your tent in the dark of night. This practice will reduce the amount of stress when it comes to setting up your site.
Choose your location carefully.
You may have many tent camping options near you. Look to RV Campgrounds, The Beach, The Lake, or how about an amusement park. These locations will all offer your family many entertaining items to pass the time and create memories with the family.
You can also camp in a State or Federal Park. I might consider this farther down the list once you have a little experience under your belt. These locations may offer fewer amenities to make you feel comfortable, especially on the first trip.
Once you are familiar with the camping process, these nature locations can be absolutely breath-taking, offer you areas to become one with nature and do some relaxing hiking and fishing.
What Amenities should I look for on my first camping trip?
This list is really up to you. I would recommend a more simplistic first trip, staying at a campground such as a KOA or other reputable location.
Here you will not only find bathrooms but shower facilities. Besides, you will most likely find a pool, maybe a hot tub, perhaps canoeing, fishing, basketball, and many other activities to keep you and the family busy.
The list of amenities varies significantly by the campground, so be sure to do your background work. Don't just assume that they will have everything you want and need.
This one step will ensure that you have all of the family activity options you were hoping for on your trip.
Plan out your family's Clothing for the week.
Remember, you will be sleeping outside, so plan ahead. The nights might be chilly, even in summer. It would help if you were sure to have Clothing for cold weather as well as hot weather. If you are hiking, you will need Clothing suitable for tromping around the woods.
Sleeping and rain attire is also a great idea. It is very relaxing to hop in your PJ's and jump into the sleeping bag for the night.
Keep in mind the location where you will be sleeping. If you are in the mountains, it will be more relaxed. Refer to the weather reports and average temperatures for your given area so that you can plan to bring the correct warm Clothing.
Closely Monitor the Weather for your Trip.
This item goes hand in hand with planning out your Clothing. Together these two items will help to keep you warm, safe, and dry.
Also, monitoring the weather will keep you advised if there is any hazardous weather on the horizon. You don't want to try and weather a big, bad storm on your first family outing. It will not leave pleasant feelings among the family members.
Once you have some experience, then you can venture into unpleasant weather. Believe it or not, even bad weather can be fun. Sitting inside the family tent, playing games, and riding out the storm will help bond everyone. Just don't try this weather on your first trip out into the tent camping world.
Why Should I plan my meals on my first camping trip?
Planning your meals will allow the family to spend more time together, enjoying everyone's company. It will also keep you packing to a minimum.
Remember to bring utensils if you plan on cooking on the fire. This style of cooking can be delightful, but it is an art form. It would help if you had the proper means to cook the meal to get burnt to a crisp.
If you plan on grilling, you will need the proper grill and tools to do so. Forgetting or not planning for these tools will lower the level of the experience.
Finally, by planning out your meals for the week, you can operate on a budget. Additionally, this list will help you when it comes to packing your vehicle for the week or weekend. Do you need one cooler or two? Will you need to purchase fresh produce? What meats and proteins will you need for the week or weekend?
Answering all of these questions will help to elevate your family experience level.
Encourage every member of the family to participate in the planning of the trip.
If you encourage everyone to help with the planning, then everyone, even the children, will feel involved and have a better adventure.
You might ask your children to pick out games or food they would like to have on the tenting trip. Another thought would be to involve them in day-trip planning. They might want to have a pool day or a day going to the ocean. Other activities could also be considered, such as fishing, hiking, and other sporting items.
Another way to get everyone involved would be to pick out a snack that they would like to have on the trip. Some might want SMORE'S, while others might want fruit, other candies, or fan-favorite toasted marshmallows.
Plan on how to spend your time if bad weather hits.
Planning for bad weather on your tent camping trip is more than thinking and packing Clothing for all occasions. You need to come up with options to pass the time should you need to spend hours inside your family tent.
One thought to keep in the back of your mind is to include such games or activities that you and the family can play or perform inside your tent. You never know when bad weather is going to hit, so be prepared. These games will not only help bring your family together while interacting during these games.
Pictionary, Card Games, Board Games, and other team games will be the perfect way to pass the time.
This list of items is the most common questions and topics that come up during your first tent camping adventure. My family has been using these topics to increase the level of enjoyment on our camping trips for years.
Whether you are camping in a dome tent or cabin tent, these topics cover a wide range of items that every family member can take part in while planning your trip. To be honest, this same list will also work if you are camping in an Rv for the first time. The main difference is that the RV will offer your amenities, such as a toilet and shower.
Keep in mind that an RV shower and toilet are not like your bathroom at home. These items are smaller, and you will need to converse water as any waste will be stored in the tanks located with the RV's belly.
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