We took our first family camping trip over the weekend. I wanted to keep things as simple as possible, but still have everything we needed in order for Little Squeak to be comfortable and happy. She loves being outdoors, so we were very excited to give this a shot. I had a big how to post planned out in my head. I even started documenting the clothes we took with us, so I could show you all just how we did it.
Then we got there.
Then things fell apart. See, I usually just use my backpacking backpacks to pack for car camping. Usually it works. But I’m learning that being organized with a baby means being able to access what you need, when you need it without having to dig. Everything was organized when we left home, but as soon as I needed something from the bottom of my backpack, all of our stuff was spread out across the back of our car and it quickly became impossible to find anything. Combine this with the fact that our daughter loves being outside and, consequently, refused to sleep until well past her normal bed time, then add in the fact that it was super windy. Squeak managed to sleep, but the grown-ups probably got 5 hours of sleep combined. We packed up at 5:30 in the morning and blearily drove home. So I don’t have any secrets to share for an awesome camping trip with a baby. Would I do it again? Absolutely! We survived, and she got to experience being outside in a new way. She slept in a tent, she gazed at the campfire, she watched the sun slowly thin out the darkness in the early morning. I don’t regret it a single bit. I’m still very, very tired, but am so grateful that we are able to share something so simple that we love so much with our daughter.
I would encourage anyone who’s thinking about camping with a baby to take the plunge. Be prepared to lose some sleep, but do it anyway! Ask for tips, but make your own choices about what to bring based on how you think your baby will react. We brought a pack n play so that we would have a place to set her down, and it was worth every inch of space it took up. We bought a bigger tent and new sleeping pads, plus a little fleece suit for her at Goodwill. Other than that, we made do with what we had. My biggest tip, though, is to find a way to stay organized. Next time I’m going to pack in a regular suitcase or two. Or a reusable grocery bag. Or rubbermaid bins. I haven’t decided yet. Whatever we choose, it will be a system that provides easy access to whatever we might need at any given point without having to do much digging. It will be easy to load in the car. That’s my biggest takeaway from this first little trip. Maybe I’ll have more specific tips for you as we refine our system.