The Exceptionally Ordinary Life

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Best Camping Hacks for Families

The whole point of going on vacation is to relax and enjoy your time, right? This is true for any kind of vacation, be that a cruise, a trip to Disneyland, and even camping.

It could be a tad difficult to relax when you go camping though. Truth is, camping can be even more tiresome than everyday life. Even more so if you spend half the time preparing meals at the campsite. Or even worse, you spend more time worrying about how much stuff you need to pack, than you spend on your trip.

Over the years, we have found small ways to make our camping trips much more enjoyable. These are little things that make a big difference. Our camping stress levels are almost non existent, after over 10 years of camping trips.

Best Camping Hacks for Families

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Bring one cup and one plate per person

I know that it is much easier to just get all disposable stuff. I get it. Nobody wants to make clean up any harder than it absolutely has to be. But I look at it this way: if all 5 of us uses 1 disposable plate per meal, 3 times a day, that’s 15 plates per day. Assuming our camping trip is 3 days long, that means at least 45 plates.  That’s a lot of plates.

If you add cups, forks and knives to that mix, you have a crap ton of stuff taking up precious space in your car trunk. Instead, bring one of each per person. There are super cute sets that are made of durable plastic and are easy to clean.

Toilet paper

No matter if you usually camp at a campsite with a restroom, you should never assume that they’ll have toilet paper. Or that the facilities will be in working order. Instead, make sure you bring a roll of toilet paper inside an empty plastic coffee container with lid. Not only will the paper stay dry, but it will also be safe to set down on the floor if need be.

Pancake mix

Even though our kids are not fans of eating big breakfast most of the time, you can always count on them waking up starving while we camp. I don’t know if it’s the fresh air or what, but they are ready to eat us out of tent and sleeping bags at the crack of dawn.

One way we have found to feed them enough to last for a few hours is making breakfast as complete as possible. But we don’t want to be mixing up stuff on site, so we pre-make the pancake mix at home, and pour it in an empty ketchup bottle. This is also convenient when making the pancakes, since it’s pretty easy to pour the mix into the pan.

Scrambled eggs

I am a big fan of reusing our resources. Since ketchup is basically its own food group in our home, we often have an empty bottle or two to reuse.

Just like with pancake mix, scrambling eggs beforehand is a time saver. Plus, since the eggs have been cracked and scrambled, there is no danger of them getting hustled during the trip or set up. I call that a win win.

Sandwich spread

This in particular is basically a must-have in any Puerto Rican party or beach or camping trip. This easy-to-make sandwich spread will not meet any high cuisine standards but it’s super yummy and easy to make. Plus, since it’s ready-made, sandwich prep time is a breeze. (Bonus points if you reuse an empty mayo jar)

Pre-seasoned meat

I’m sure you can spot a pattern here. Yes, I like to have as much of the food prepped before we leave the house. If you think about it, it makes sense. By pre-seasoning your meat at home, you can then leave the spice containers behind. Plus, when it’s dinnertime, all you need to do is take the meat out of your cooler and toss it on the grill or over the fire.

Pill organizer filled with spices

If you absolutely must season your food at your campsite, then the best way to carry a variety of spices is in a pill organizer. The spices will stay fresh and in their own spots, while you will save valuable space, since you won’t need to bring a gazillion spice bottles with you.

Just remember to label everything. You can either use your trusty old label maker, or simply write the name of the spice on a self adhesive label with a fine tip sharpie.

Pre-cooked dinner for 1st night

We usually have all the intentions of leaving home early for our campsite. However, Not-gonna-happen is the land where all good intentions go to die.

That being the case, I can guarantee you that our first night of every camping trip we are sort of exhausted, and don’t want to cook. That’s why we have taken to cooking a big pot of chili or even spaghetti sauce (check out my husband’s recipe here) the night before. We then bring the pot just like it is, and when we get to the site, all we have to do is set it over the fire to warm it up for a bit.

Waterproof playing cards

There are certain times in the day that can be considered down time, especially at night, after all the playing around, swimming, or hiking is done for the day. And it is with these times in mind that I strongly recommend you always bring a few decks of cards.

One of the best things to play as a family, is cards. My family prefers UNO, but we also love to play with regular playing cards. The thing is that, unless you camp in an RV, your time spent at a campsite will be a bit rough. And if that’s the case, then your decks of cards must be waterproof. Trust me. Those cards can withstand a ton of torture.

Bring all inflatables airless

Nothing, I repeat, nothing, takes up more room in your car trunk than all the inflatables. From beach balls to floating donuts, and even inflatable boats, you should always bring them airless. I know it could be a bit of a pain to get them filled up though, so I recommend you get an air compressor like this one. It works amazing, and it can even be used as a source of power, and to jump start your car, if the need arises.

Cold food in air tight containers or zipper bags

If there is one thing that annoys me about living off an ice cooler is everything getting wet. It not only changes the texture of the food, but can also cause it to go bad quickly.

I strongly suggest you pack it all in small zipper bags, or airtight containers. Pack it all separately. Your butter, cheese slices, lunch meat, and more will be in much better shape if you do.

Pre-cut fruit

We love having fresh fruit when we go camping. Fresh fruit makes for an excellent snack between meals, which balances out all the junk food you’ll probably eat 😉

There’s one thing I don’t like about eating fresh fruit while camping though: cutting it. Again, unless you camp in an RV, your clean prep areas will be sort of limited. So why not cut it all up and make a nice fruit salad at home? Just make sure you pack it in a good quality airtight container to keep it fresh.

Best Camping Hacks for Families

I would agree that camping (especially tent camping) is not for everyone. Camping means letting go of all our creature’s comforts for a few days, and that’s hard.

However, I can’t think of a better way to have fun, enjoy nature, and connect with our family. Of course, if we spend all our time “away” working, then is not as fun. By using some or all of these best camping hacks, you can truly relax, instead of just taking your busy every day life with you.

I hope you have enjoyed this list of the best camping hacks for families, and that you have found them helpful. Did I miss something? What camping hacks you have? Please, share with us in the comments section below. Inquiring minds want to know!

Best Camping Hacks for Families

Best camping hacks for families

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