Top Tips for Camping with Babies and Toddlers

We have been avid campers our whole lives and together we have spent many a night around the camp fire with a cold beverage talking about how we couldn’t let children change our passion for the outdoors or hinder our ability to adventure. Then we had Phoebe… and we truly realised why a lot of parents fret about taking their precious little bundles out of the safety of home!

We had so many questions! How far should we travel, what should we take, how do we get Phoebe to sleep when its light until 10pm, and what if it rains?! Well, this blog is for those of you that have these very questions…!

How far should you travel?

On Vancouver Island everything, on a North American scale, is close – for you Brits, yes it may be more than an hour down the road but there is so much beautiful scenery to keep you entertained that you won’t get chance to ask “Are we there yet?!” In our experience, Phoebe is pretty happy doing anything up to 4 – 5 hours of travel (with a couple of stops for feeds and diaper changes). It’s great travelling together as one of us can be the in-house entertainer and, as she gets older, the snack provider whilst the other one drives and navigates. We have pushed the boundaries with longer journeys and have found that the key to success is not to be in a hurry and not to commit to anyone what time you will arrive.

What should you take?

The answer ISN’T everything… its NEARLY everything! We started with a packing list, and we were geeky enough to save it on the laptop so that we can now just hit print for every trip!

So, what to take, here are our top five:

  1. Travel Cot: Making a safe and comfortable place to sleep is priority number one. We tried to keep everything the same as home, from the cot sheet to the (battery operated!) noise machine – which has been great at blocking out the background noise of dinner and campfire chatter. When renting a vehicle from FarOut you can opt to add a travel cot to your rental and there is plenty of space in the tent annexe to place it so that your little one will be right there with you.
  2. High Chair: A great safe space for your little one. We have used a table-mounted high chair and a free-standing high chair whilst camping. The table-mounted chair has been fantastic as it folds down to nothing and can be attached to any picnic bench you find along the way. The free-standing high chair is more bulky but was a lifesaver on a recent trip to whistler where it rained for three days straight and their wasn’t a picnic bench in sight!
  3. Stroller: Yes, getting it to fit is always a pain BUT if you plan to visit any small towns or head out to lunch then it is worth its weight in gold as it is the perfect place for a long lunch-time nap, whilst you put your feet up and sip on a cold one!
  4. Baby Carrier: This is your freedom! Hikes become possible and the baby carrier is just the best snuggle spot after a feed!
  5. Groundsheet and play mat: Many places have pea-sized gravel as their base for campsites, great for drainage, terrible for crawling babies and toddlers who have learnt a pincer grip! Keeping your child on the groundsheet will be a challenge but at least you can create a space where they can have some floor time! Just don’t expect anything you take to come back clean…

How to cope with the light nights…

This one is easy, our rooftop tent and the accompanying annexe is a thick dark green material, it is effectively one large blackout curtain – so if you are taking our vehicle out you can make it dark any time of the day! We even managed a lie-in one morning! All of the fresh air and new experiences definitely help too!

What if it rains?

We recently had two solid days of rain in Whistler and we found that the combination of having the Gazebo (optional add-on), the awning over the camping kitchen and the annexe worked a treat. We changed our plans according to the weather and found some great little coffee hangouts for Phoebe’s day-time naps. They key to making sure our trip was enjoyable was having a VERY flexible plan and lots of warm and dry clothes as the dampness definitely left a chill.

Our top tips…

  1. Location, Location, Location: We love wilderness camping – but for our first few camping excursions we chose campsites that had a couple of amenities, just to make life easier for ourselves.
  2. Book! We love spontaneity but there is far too much to be thinking about, so book your campsites ahead of time so at least there is one less thing to worry about.
  3. Don’t be afraid to change the plan: If Phoebe has taught us anything, then its that Plan A is more of a dream-state with Plan D or E being more the reality! If its not working, then change it!

So, what are you waiting for? There are eight weeks left of summer and your next adventure awaits!