Family Camping Ultimate Guide

Family camping is such a great way to cultivate a love of the outdoors while also making lifelong memories with your family. From personal experience, I also know how overwhelming it can be if you’ve never really camped with your family before. Never fear, we have made this family camping ultimate guide to answer all the questions you have about camping with kids.

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Tent at sand dunes national park

Planning A Family Camping Trip

Planning a family camping trip can be a little overwhelming if you’ve never done it before. You have to consider many different factors to make the trip just right for your family.

Consider The Different Types of Camping

One of the first things you will want to consider when planning a family camping trip is what type of camping you would like to do. There are a variety of different types of camping, and each comes with its own unique characteristics. We will specifically be covering types of tent camping vs. RV or motorhome type camping as our experience has been with family tent camping.

  • Tent Camping-One of the most well-known types of camping is tent camping. With tent camping you will book a campsite either at a tent-only campground or RV/Tent campground. Campgrounds can range from $25 a night to upwards of $80. Of course, the tent campgrounds in the higher price range typically have better amenities than the lower-priced campsites. We will cover more about tent camping later in the article.
  • Glamping-Glamping has become a quite popular way to camp in recent years. With everything set up and ready to go for you, glamping can be a great way to camp for a family. I like to say glamping is fancy camping but a more proper definition would be that it is camping with some luxury and comforts of your own home 😉 Of course, with more being provided you are going to pay more for a glamping experience. Glamping can range from treehouse stays to staying in a cave. For more information on glamping experiences check out
  • Backpacking-If you are an adventurous family backpacking might be right up your alley. Backpacking is basically tent camping but you carry all of your possessions to your campsite all on your back. My family has not yet tried backpacking, but my husband did some backpacking when he hiked part of the Appalachian Trail. I think backpacking is an ambitious goal for a family, but it is definitely not where I would begin my family camping experience.
  • Car camping– This type of camping is exactly as it sounds-using your car to camp in. Of course, as a family, it is likely that you will be van camping rather than car camping. My good friends over at Wonders Within Reach have a great article on building your own camper van for less than $400.
  • Primitive camping-This is pretty much tent camping but a little more hardcore. Typically, primitive campsites are further out (you might have to hike to them) and have little to no amenities such as bathrooms, running water, or electricity. Our family actually did quite a bit of primitive camping and found it to be not as bad as we thought it would be. Of course, these sites are often much cheaper if not just free to camp at.

What Kind Of Gear Will We Need For Family Camping?

This was definitely one of my main thoughts when we decided to take a month-long family camping trip. How in the world would I think of all the things we would need? Thankfully I was able to create a pretty comprehensive list of the things we would need and then we went through and found out which things we already had and which things we still needed to purchase. I wrote an entire blog post entitled Top 30 Best Family Camping Gear where I go over all the things we think you will need to be prepared for a family camping adventure. I also put it in video form for those who enjoy that as well and it is below 🙂

What Is A Good Age To Take A Child Camping?

So if you asked this to a handful of people you would likely get a variety of answers. I think most people who camp frequently would tell you the sooner the better. I think many people believe the earlier you expose the child to camping the more you set them up to be camp-loving kids and adults.

With that being said I will throw in a little dose of reality 😉 The first time we took our kids camping our oldest was 4 and our youngest was 2 (the ages are a little fuzzy because I’ve tried to block out the whole experience in my mind-ha!) It was Father’s Day and my husband loves to camp so I had the grand idea for the family to go camping together. Long story short my 4-year-old woke up throwing up around 1 am. His throwing up woke the 2-year-old up and she started crying.

At this point, my husband is still sleeping (where is the eye roll emoji) and I am now trying to get both of the kiddos in the van to not wake up the whole campground. So we get in the van and after a couple of minutes, I realize that this isn’t going to work because well it’s Florida so it’s blazing hot even in the middle of the night. I try to get out of the van and wouldn’t you know we had been in there long enough for the alarm to reset. So we get out alarm blaring. At that point, my husband wakes up and we decide to call it night and drive 2 hours back home.

I share that story to say you might want to try a little backyard camping before you drive 2 hours or more from your house to stay in a tent around a lot of strangers. If the dry run at home goes well I say go for it. Honestly, tent camping is one of the best activities I can think of to do as a family. It just definitely takes a lot of patience when you’re doing it with toddlers and infants.

What Are Popular Camping Apps?

We are so fortunate to live in a time where we have camping apps right at our fingertips to help us find campsites. Here are a couple you might consider using in planning your next camping trip.

Roadtrippers Pro

I am putting this app first because this is my #1 go to app when planning not only camping trips but trips overall. Our last two month long trips we took I used Roadtrippers Pro. Of course I can’t cover all the perks of the membership but I would like to share why I love using it so much.

One of the first things I love is that I can plot out my trip and see interesting stops that I might want to include along the way. The app also allows you to rearrange your trip. When we went to Kentucky and I was trying to see whether to visit the Creation Museum or The Ark Encounter first it was helpful to switch the order around and see which combination would provide the best trip. You can turn a one-way trip into a round trip with just one click. Another of my favorite features is that it shows you how long each leg of your trip is.

In terms of camping, the app has a button specifically designated to search the area you are in for places to camp. Once you click on a specific place to camp there are sometimes details such as photos, reviews, and information on parking, restrooms, pets allowed, wifi, etc. I say sometimes because this information unfortunately is not provided for each entry.

If you are interested in trying Roadtrippers Pro we would love for you to click here to access our affiliate link. It will provide you with $5 off the pro membership. You can use the promo code: BTR5QTP


IOverlander was another app that we used quite frequently, specifically when we were looking for primative/free camping. Wikipedia defines overlanding as “Overlanding is self-reliant travel to remote destinations where the journey is the principal goal.” Ioverlander is a free website and app that will show you where you can find camping and also frequently gives details about the location. Occasionally they end up as dead ends but we were amazed by some of the quality camping locations we found while using this app.


Hipcamp is also a free app which will help you locate and book tent camping, RV parks, cabins, glamping, and more. This site is great for finding places outside your typical camping spots. While I didn’t come across any free sites when browsing the site, there were several options as low as $15 a night which is a great bargain!

What To Look For In A Kid-Friendly Campground

When you are in the planning stage you might want to think about what features you want your campground/campsite to have. When looking at campgrounds you might consider the following:

  • Do they have quiet hours?
  • Do they have a playground?
  • Do they have a swimming pool and/or body of water to swim in? (this may be a positive or negative depending on the age of your children. In Florida we always have to think about the fact that many bodies of water have alligators in them.)
  • Is the campground close to the attractions you will be visiting?
  • Are there bathrooms/showers?

Where To Go?

The options are endless when trying to decide where to go. I typically plan our trips around National Parks we want to visit. If you have a child in fourth grade, be sure to check out our article Every Kid Outdoors: Family Guide To The National Parks to find out how you can get your whole family into all National Parks for a year free!

Tripadvisor is definitely my go-to when visiting an area to decide what things we should consider doing.

Our family travel Youtube Channel has many good family friendly trip videos that might be helpful in your planning. We’d love for you to check it out and if it looks like something that would be helpful to you to please subscribe. Below is our video of Mammoth Cave National Park. We really enjoyed tent camping at Mammoth Cave.

How To Book A Campsite

The first step in booking a campsite is deciding where you want to go. Once you’ve decided your location you want to look into national parks, state parks, national forest and local campgrounds to see which has the best campsite to accommodate the budget and needs of your family. You’ll want to consider the proximity to the attractions you want to visit as well as the amenities offered at the campsite you are considering.

Remember if you are looking at a popular location as well as it being during a popular season, you will want to book your site ahead of time. National parks and forest open their booking window approximately 6 months before the desired date. You can book national parks and national forest through

Prior to booking be sure to check out all requirements that the campground may have. Some campgrounds have restrictions in regard to pets, age of children, and vehicle size. Unfortunately, if you neglect to look at these rules and you are not compliant you may not be able to stay even though you have already paid.

We hope this Family Camping Ultimate Guide will help you plan the perfect camping getaway for your family. Just remember that even if things don’t turn out exactly how you planned, that ultimately you are creating an opportunity for your family to connect and there is no better vacation than that!

Thank you for stopping by. We hope to see you over on YouTube or our other social media platforms. If you enjoyed this article, be sure to click the pin below to save to Pinterest. Stay Peachy!

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