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The husband and I are rather spontaneous people. Just a week before our big camping trip we decided to go. We have only camped one other time by ourselves without my family and it is a lot more work than I realized. Being responsible to remember to pack everything and to cook the meals over a campfire that sometimes doesn’t burn and never burns at an even temperature. To decide where and what we are doing every day and all those other small details that don’t occur to you until you are the adult.

After discussing at length where we would stay, the husband sweetly agreed on Duluth. We haven’t been there since our anniversary last year and it is my favorite place to camp. I envisioned staying at Jay Cooke State Park where my family always camps, hiking the trails at Gooseberry and Tettegouche State Parks. Nice weather, picnics and fun! Friday night there were extreme thunder storm and flash flood warnings in the area we were staying and it poured! Jay Cooke was booked so we couldn’t stay there and the campground we found was sketchy. Note to self: Plan ahead! We still had a wonderful time, we never went hungry… for too long, and we created many good memories together. But when we go camping again in two weeks, I will be more prepared!

Plan for the weather

Is it going to be cold? Will it be raining? Will it be hot? Are you going to be camping where there is a beach? Pack accordingly. I figured since it is July that Duluth would be warm and sunny. It ended up being cold and rainy the first night and sunny the following days but still chilly in the mornings.

Bring snacks!

Meal time while on vacation can be — well — unpredictable! And hungry campers are not happy campers! Avoid this problem by packing snacks! I packed peanut butter and saltine crackers. I might have gone through around 9 oz of peanut butter with a little help from the boys while on our trip. But what can I say, between breastfeeding, hiking and being in the outdoors I was starving most of the time! When I was growing up, my mom would always make sure we had a snack box packed full and easily accessible. Crackers and cookies, trail mix and granola bars, buckets of homemade buttery popcorn.  Our favorites were Tropical Trail Mix and sliced cheese on Toll House Butter Crackers. Oh yeah, don’t forget the water! I love my stainless steel water bottle, it keeps your water cold and it is super durable for the outdoors, this one comes in lots of fun colors and sizes for everyone in the family, or this one has a lid with a handle.

Pack Enough Clothes

I thought we were staying for 2 nights when I packed. We ended up staying an extra night. I packed only one sweater each and those got wet the first night when we tried to set up in the rain. I always over pack and the one time I chose to pack light, I didn’t pack enough! Always pack an extra outfit, you never know when you might need it. I’d recommend packing 2 outfits for each day for the children. Fleece footed pajamas are great for cool nights, Carters brand is my favorite!

Bring Proper Camping Equipment

We did not have room to bring our pack ‘n’ play but I wish we had. Baby spent his time in his car seat, in a boppy pillow on a camp chair and on a pillow on the driver’s seat of the car. None of these were ideal, but they work for a little baby if you don’t have the space. If your baby is getting around, rolls over, etc, you probably need another option, unless you don’t mind them being in the dirt. Bring along a pack ‘n’ play, a portable swing or some sort of seat like this one for your baby to sit in when you are busy preparing food or doing other camp activities. If you’re planning to hike or walk, pack a stroller or baby carrier. And don’t forget to pack something for baby to sleep in! Unless of course, they’re sleeping with you. If you travel or camp a lot, it might be worth getting something like this 3-in-1 travel bassinet.

Camping Safety and Prevention

Two things I did not pack and wish I had are bug spray and a mosquito net for Baby. I did Google natural bug spray and found that coconut oil can be used. Whatever you use, I strongly suggest you find some without DEET, especially for your children. Things I did pack were large bandaids and my mom’s salve. Thankfully we didn’t have any serious injuries, but Coby did knock a burn he had against the car while getting in and gouged some of the skin off. I was very glad that I had the salve and bandages for him. Bringing a basic First Aid Kit, bug spray, and sunscreen would be a great idea! It wouldn’t hurt to bring along Aloe Vera Gel for sun burn and something to treat bug bites, poison ivy, etc, like this on the go stick.

Bring Activities for the Kids

I packed Coby’s favorite books, his kinetic sand, a puzzle and crayons. I’m so glad I did this, Coby played with his kinetic sand and his books many times while I was cooking, cleaning and packing up camp.

Know the Place You are Camping at

As I mentioned before, the only available campground Friday night was more of an RV park/resort right on the river. There were four tent campsites with no privacy, staked out with orange cones between a line of trees and a huge hotel. The whole place was a bit run down and sketchy so we didn’t stay. I wished I had read the reviews more extensively. This is what I get for attempting to be adventurous! Make sure that the place you are camping is somewhere you are going to enjoy staying! Check the reviews on Google or ask someone you know for a recommendation before trying out a new place!

Have a backup Plan

Our backup plan was a night in the car. Not a very comfortable backup plan, even though we survived. Make sure you have a plan just in case your original plan falls through, unless you enjoy that sort of adventure. 🙂 It really wasn’t that bad!


What are things that you always do or pack in preparation for camping?