What to pack when you are road tripping and camping with kids, that old pickle eh?
Every time I load everyone in the car and head off I spend the first ten minutes freaking out about what I didn’t pack!
This list might help you avoid that 🙂
Lots of them. I’ve heard this said so many times but really, it’s so true.
I don’t know how I lived for 35 years without them.
Use for sticky hands, tricky toilet situations, cleaning surfaces, cleaning feet… The list goes on.
Medicine box –
That’s what I call my box of just in case stuff like Panadol, Nurofen, Stingoes, tweezers, splinter remover, thermometer and lately a liquid antihistamine.
I’m not big on going nuts with medicine at the drop of a hat, but Ivy had a weird reaction to something (not sure what is was) on one of our trips and I had a pretty panicked drive at night to get antihistamines into her.
The pharmacist said, quite wisely, that they are always a good thing to carry.
There is nothing quite as crappy as being in the middle of nowhere with a sick kid with nothing on hand.
I also keep betadine cream, bandaids, toenail clippers and scissors in there. If you use homeopathics at home chuck some of those in too.
Plastic bags –
Heaps of plastic shopping bags, you’ll use them for rubbish, wet nappies, wet pants etc.
Wet swimmers if you stop for a swim. You seriously can’t have enough.
I even have one of those material bag holders you see at markets hanging in the van and keep it full at all times.
Both of ours are toilet trained and we don’t use a potty at home but I still take one on the road (the kids are 2 and 3), as there is always that one time where there is no toilet around and someone needs one.
The potty always gets put to use, every trip.
Also, if they are still new to the whole toilet training thing and are due a sleep, sit them on a nappy.
I didn’t put a nappy on them after the whole toilet training thing had commenced but I’d often line the car seat with one in the early days.
That way if there is an accident it’s just wet clothes, not a stinky car seat.
If you are heading to a caravan or holiday park don’t forget wheels of some kind.
I made the mistake of forgetting last time and the torture that was watching 300 kids ride by our campsite every day while my kids sat and watched was immense.
Haha, for all parties involved!
Container/lunch box –
One for each kid.
I put a container on each of the kids laps and drip feed snacks in as we go.
Sticker books –
These are great entertainment and it takes them ages.
You need something you are happy for them to stick the stickers on.
Ivy usually decorates her plastic doll and Max a book, but even a plain piece of cardboard each will do the job.
I’m also totally cool with them decorating themselves; whatever floats their boat at this point.
As long it’s not the windows. Don’t go there, nightmare.
Get the decent ones from the newsagent that have 1500 plus stickers, I reckon I’ve gotten a year out of the ones we have at the moment and they are still going.
Sticker books are on my list of ten ways to entertain your kids on a road trip.
Audio books –
Great for keeping them entertained and also good for lulling them into the desired long road trip “stupor” that usually precedes sleep.
Check out a list of my favourite audiobooks for kids for some ideas or kids audiobooks & songs about caring for the environment.
The latter are the ones I pull out when I decide I want to spend a bit of time turning the kids into decent humans down the track!
Glow sticks and/or a headlamp –
Aside from the glow sticks just being fun and buying you some time without getting harassed, you can tie them to the kids so you don’t lose them at night.
Glow sticks are on my list of road trip & camping toys that don’t take up too much space.
Same goes with the headlamp, you can’t lose them while also helping make sure they don’t lose themselves.
Toilet paper –
When you do manage to get the kids to a loo and there’s no paper, well, that sucks so bad.
The snack box –
It lives in the front and is full of snacks for the road.
Fruit, popcorn, boxes of sultanas, nuts, rice crackers etc.
Lots of little weird cardboard like snacks from the health food section of the supermarket.
Probably nutrient neutral, but also not catastrophically hard to clean when smooshed into a car seat over a few hours.
Zip lock sandwich bags –
Endless possibilities here but mainly just great for when you have something a little noxious that needs a home until you get to the next bin 🙂
Water bottles –
One per kid.
That way there is no arguing over it and also it gives you a bit of an idea of how much water they are getting into them.
I don’t have to think about that at home but sometimes on the road they don’t drink enough.
That coupled with a whole lot of dry road trip food and holding on longer than they usually might is a UTI waiting to happen.
I fold a pillow in half and wedge it between the car seats to make a bookshelf that they can reach easily.
Then I put a selection of books on it and they can pick and choose as we drive.
I am always pleasantly surprised at how long they are happy to sit and read for.
Foot washing bucket –
I just recently clued onto this and it’s brilliant!
I grabbed a little rectangular collapsable bucket from BCF and fill it up with water and sit it on a towel at the door to the van or the tent.
The kids know that they have to rinse their feet before they get in.
There’s a whole lot less sand in the bed these days.
Cos kids will eat just about ANYTHING if they got to wrap it in foil and cook it on the fire themselves (by cook I mean chuck it in the fire and then harass you every five minutes to check if its ready.)
Space saving toys –
I’ve been working on the perfect amount and type of toys to take away with us where the kids are occupied but the car isn’t full to the roof.
Check out road trip & camping toys that don’t take up too much space to see my current faves.
Insect repellant –
I take a couple of different versions.
Usually a natural one to use until I admit it’s not working very well which is when I pull out the heavy duty back up.
I also take a parakito band for each kid which, although not 100% does work in conjunction with a few other measures and it’s natural.
Wet weather/mud shoes –
Even when it’s not raining I find that my two will be out running around in the dew first thing in the morning. Or any puddles within a 5km radius.
Take a spare pair of shoes that you don’t mind getting trashed a bit.
I take gumboots or thongs in summer and a pair of water proof snow boots for winter.
Take a tube of sunscreen and then take another one for when you lose the first one.
In fact, it’s potentially a good idea to take a third for when you lose the second! Happens to me all the bloody time.
Dry Bags –
I get these from BCF for about six bucks each and they are awesome! They are waterproof bags.
Use them to store dirty clothes (it keeps the wet or stinky stuff away from al your other gear), cart swimming gear and to transport wet clothes from the washing machine to the line at van parks.
They are drawstring and pack down really small and I usually have at least four in the van all the time.
Microfibre Towels –
These are a lifesaver, partly for the space saving benefit but also because they dry so fast.
I don’t know about you but with the kids constantly in and out of the water and then showering at night I seem to have this constant stream of damp towels that never dry and this solved that problem!
Check out gear that makes camping with kids easier for a list of my fave bits and pieces that make life a little easier out there in adventure land with kids…
If you need some ideas on what to feed the wee humans once you arrive then check out quick & easy camping meals for kids.
What are your essentials when heading off with the kids? Let me know in the comments below.
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