Spring means spring break for thousands of families, so destinations fill up quickly––and prices rise accordingly. However, you have an affordable option: Take your family camping.
But what should you consider when planning a family camping trip? Carrie Simmons, creator and host of “Travel With Kids,” an award-winning family travel documentary series, shared some insights. (And if this is your first time taking kids camping, start with our guide to camping with children.)
Involve the kids
Soliciting their input gives them a role and can help ensure they’ll enjoy the trip even more. “I think it’s important to involve them from the very beginning,” Simmons said. “If there is somewhere specific you want to go, maybe present choices that would be acceptable to you. Once you have decided, involve the kids by reading books and watching movies about the destination.”
Find a good balance
Look for destinations that offer a mix of activities and attractions. “Striking a balance between what the parents want and what the kids want is key to a happy family vacation,” Simmons notes. We also have ideas for both day and nighttime activities to keep kids entertained.
Don’t fret over age
Don’t worry too much about ages when planning. “To me, it’s more about the experience of immersing in history, culture and nature and trying new things together as a family than whether the child will remember every detail of the trip,” Simmons noted.
You do need to determine whether your destination has age-restricted activities, but those questions can be answered by calling ahead. If you’re not sure what else to ask about, consult our guide to for first-time campers.
Make it educational
Camping is a great way to learn. “Immersing in nature and learning about wildlife conservation, or absorbing history on a walk through the area where the events took place elevates travel to an educational experience all ages can enjoy,” Simmons agreed.
In addition, camping has tangible health benefits. “Sometimes we have a theme night and cook a dish from the region and watch a movie together,” Simmons said. “This presents an opportunity to turn the travel into an educational experience.”
Cherish these times
Remember your ultimate goal is to spend time with your children. “Childhood moves really fast,” Simmons noted. “At some point in the very near future, your child won’t be in awe of that butterfly, or snuggle in a tent or be excited by s’mores. The great thing about travel is it gets you away from that day-to-day routine and allows you time to bond."
Finally: Take the trip!
The realities of raising a family may tempt you to delay vacations. “I can’t tell you how many times I have heard parents saying they want to wait until their kids are a certain age. But, guess what? When they reach that age they have work, school, activities, friends and many other things,” she observed. “So, no age is ever perfect, but it’s the right time no matter their age!”