Kids camping outdoors

Camping with Kids: Not As Daunting As It Sounds

boy in deep sea green waterproof rain pants, out camping, in front of his tent

If you’re reading this, chances are that you’re wanting to try out camping with your kids. Maybe for the first time, maybe for the first time in a while or maybe for the first time with your minis. Good news! We’re here to help. Read on, McDuff!

In my experience, there are two main types of camping families:  The Go-With-The-Flow families and the Planner Families. 

If you’re a Go-With-The-Flow-er, you probably don’t need to read much further than this, you’re pretty confident that camping with kids is for you, and you’re ready. That’s great! We’ll see you out there :D

But for those families who, like mine, are Planners – we need a little confidence boost before heading off. My boost comes in the form of a nice, checked-off list. And because I love camping with my family, I’d like to help more families get out there. So, here’s my list of Essentials for Camping with Kids.

Camping gear essentials


Whether you like glamping, camping or off-gridding – you’re going to need some shelter. There are plenty of shelter options to choose from; tents, caravans, campers, gazebo hubs, swags and rooftop tents are all great options! Consider things like your budget and towing capacity to see what suits your family best. Visit an Anaconda, or a Camping and Outdoor Expo. They usually have a fair range of shelters already set up in store, so you can see your options in action.

Whichever you choose, we highly recommend a trial run. In the backyard, or around the corner at a nearby holiday park. Arrive early (nothing is worse than a late set up with tired/hungry/cranky kids, believe us!) and give yourselves time and grace to make mistakes. Let the littles pitch in and help – it’s the best way to keep them occupied and within your sight. Toddlers and kids love to help unroll tents, yank out sleeping bags, help pump up beds, hammer in pegs, etc. It may take longer, but camping is all about quality family time.

Allow yourselves to laugh at mistakes and keep it relaxed and fun. When you’re confident that you know the in’s and out’s of setting up your shelter, you’ll find the thought of heading further afield for adventure much less daunting. 


If you’re heading out in summer, you don’t need to think too much about this one. A cheapie air mattress, a more expensive self-inflating mattress or a stretcher bed are all good options depending on your needs, add a sleeping bag or doona, and you're good to go!

Lots of campers co-sleep with kids to avoid packing extra bedding, take up less space in the tent and to keep the littles warmer at night.  If you’re not a co-sleeper, though, and have littler ones, have a look at kids inflatable mattresses. They’ve got raised sides to help prevent wild sleepers from rolling off the edge. Port-a-cots work great, too, as do side sleeper bassinets. 

Camping in cooler weather is basically the same gear – just adding insulation. My top camping hack to keep everyone warm through the night is layers. On you, the kids and the beds. Put a blanket down under the beds, put a blanket on top of the beds, then put more blankets/sleeping bags on top of you. Woollen/sherpa/thermal layers make the best insulation. You’d be amazed at the difference the extra two layers around the mattresses can make. 

Water and Food

One acronym: K.I.S.S (keep it simple, stupid)! 

Seriously, don’t overthink it. Unless you're off to the far back of beyond for weeks at a time, civilisation usually isn't far.  You can grab fresh fruit/veg/meat/bread etc when you need it.

Think simple, kid friendly, easy to prepare or prepare ahead meals: pasta, sausages, nachos, cereal, wraps and potatoes. There are a thousand different ways people like to cook, so we won’t bore you by elaborating on exactly how you should be cooking while camping. It’s honestly a bit of a trial-and-error thing, anyway. You just figure out what works for you, by doing it. Kinda like parenting.

One hack we will pass along, though – if you’re headed to a spot with a town big enough for a grocery store nearby, place a click and collect order for a time after you’re aiming to arrive and only pack what you need to eat/drink for those first few hours. Then grab your food (and fresh ice if you need it) at your leisure. Less squashed bananas, melted ice or warm milk and extra packing space = win. 


This is weather and location dependent, obviously. If you’re not camping in peak summer, and if your kids are anything like ours, you’re going to need at least three outfits per day. More, if it’s raining or cold. Check the weather ahead of time, and pack according to what your kids’ use at home for that weather. Layers are key. Add in jumpers, trackies, hats, sunnies and possibly a jacket for the evenings if its cooler. And a few pairs of pjs, too, because that early morning dew/mud combo is a killer. 

Here is where we come in, though. Add a puddle suit or a pair of Grubberalls to your list and subtract those extra pjs, trackies, shirts and even a couple of the layers! Waterproof play gear is so darn handy when camping with kids. Pop it on them first thing in the morning and let them roam free. Our gear is so comfortable, kids don’t care if they wear it all day. And once they realise there are no more worried shouts from parents of “don’t go in there/do that! You’ll get wet/cold/filthy/itchy!” when they’ve got it on? Suddenly, they want to wear their Grubbybub gear in the bath.

Oh, and you can leave them in it for meal times and wipe them clean along with the picnic table *wink wink, nudge nudge*


Now this is an easy one! Kids find so much to entertain themselves with outside: (Dad joke alert…) their imaginations just run wild… in the wild! So, leave the fancy, complicated toys at home, pack some very simple play aids and you’re done.

We’ve found digging tools, buckets, spare rope, a ball, bubbles and chalk to be very effective, packing-friendly, open ended play aids. Matchbox cars, too, can be a good one to add a little role play to outdoor play. These kinds of ‘toys’ are also very shareable, which is perfect for those extra friends kids instantly make when camping. 

The only issue we’ve found with this kind of outdoor, create-your-own-fun style of play is the after play laundry. So, throw on their Grubbybub play gear and set them free. 


A decent first aid kit is always a necessity when camping. You can buy a basic version from Woolies and add to it, or you can purchase a specialist, survival style kit – and everything in-between.  Assess how far you will be from help and modify from there.
Good additions to the first aid kit are sunscreen, aloe vera or similar, insect repellent, kids and adult fever/pain relievers, a back-up torch, extra bandaids + antiseptic cream such as Bentadine, antihistamines/insect bite relief cream and tweezers, in addition to any regular medications you and your family would normally use at home.

Now that you know the basics, you can feel much more confident the next time you set out to plan a camping trip – and we will see you out there!

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