I am not a camper. Let me say it again in case I wasn’t clear: I am not a camper. Give me a book and the beach over camping any day of the week. Unfortunately, this year I was outvoted on our vacation destination. This meant a week of bugs, heat, and no internet for yours truly. The uninterrupted time with family is priceless and frankly there was still coffee, so all-in-all it was a great trip. Still, there are a few things I wish we would have thought to bring or simply used constantly on our trip that I want to make a list for you. Here are the top 10 camping items from a non-camper who learned by doing (or not having).
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1. Ziploc Bags
Why did we not bring an entire box of these?! I packed exactly 2 extras which, unfortunately, were not enough. You definitely need these and here’s why:
- When you are out hiking, you need something to put sandwiches and snacks in unless you plan on carrying all of the ingredients with you during your hike.
- Place your phone and/or camera in one to help protect it while you’re out and about.
- Kids will want to collect weird, crazy stuff (“Look at this wet, moss-covered stone!”) that you definitely do not want bumping around your pack with your other gear and food.
- You want something to put leftover food in. Take it from me, waterlogged marshmallows are gross and cannot be roasted. So unless your family plans on eating an entire bag in one sitting, bring a re-sealable bag for them.
- Use them to put a few diaper wipes in instead of lugging around the entire container everywhere.
2. Diaper Wipes
Speaking of diaper wipes, even if you don’t have children you should have a pack of these with you. Camping is dirty, even the fun parts like s’mores, and these are a lifesaver.
A lot of people buy bottled water to take on their trip and that’s great. But you also want to have a regular water bottle that you can clip to your pack or belt loop with a carabiner clip. Some trails can get difficult and you definitely want both hands free.
4. Baby Carrier
If you are hiking with small children, this is another must have. While Moby Wraps are great (we love ours), not so much for hiking. Invest in (or borrow) a supportive and comfortable backpack carrier.
These make great, inexpensive “picnic blankets”. Be sure to get one that has the soft lining on one side and vinyl on the other. When you use it, put the vinyl side towards the ground and you instantly have a soft, dry place to sit and eat. These are also great for babies to play on without getting insect bites from sitting in the grass.
6. Card Games
If you do get stuck inside (whether you’re in a tent or a cabin) you’ll be so glad you brought these. Card games don’t take up much room and can be a great boredom buster if you have kids in tow. Here are some recommendations if you don’t know what to bring:
Chances are you have a first aid kit that has the normal components like bandages and aspirin, but you also want to add allergy medicine, cold/flu medicine, and cough drops. The day we arrived at our cabin, I was so sick that we ended up have to leave and drive 30 minutes away to get me some cough drops. Don’t let this happen to you, friends.
On that same note, have a box of tissues. We were lucky that we keep a box in our car otherwise we would have had to pick these up too. Did I mention how sick I was? Definitely, definitely have these.
A lot of people take pocket knives camping and while it beats a blank, a multitool isn’t much bigger and can prove very useful. Ours even has needle nose pliers which, believe it or not, were used on multiple occasions.
Not for if it rains, although that is clearly not a bad idea either, but umbrellas are great for making impromptu shade. Babies and toddlers are the kings and queens of removing hats (among other things) and an umbrella can be a great alternative while still being compact enough to carry with you.
Outside of our misfortunes, we did have a fantastic trip. I’m sure they will talk me into doing it again, sans being sick of course. Going on vacation with kids this summer? Give yourself peace of mind with these kids’ emergency lanyards.