I know I've been itching to give camping a try, but I'm so nervous if we'll actually like it! Not really sure "roughing it" is really for me, and there seems to be quite a long list of things to buy for your first camping trip, especially if you want to go more for "glamping" which I think I do LOL!
Keep reading for our "Check List for First Time Family Camping" and be sure to comment if you're an experienced camper with any tips! Lucky for us, online shopping is easier than ever - you can find most of these quickly on Amazon!
- Tent: Switch Back Travel has a great post going over tent features and their top picks in several categories - one key recommendation is to get a tent larger than the number in your party (ex. A family of 5 like us should probably get a tent for 8 people). The "instant" tent that sets up in one minute (poles are already in it) really speaks to me, I'm leaning toward this Core 9 Person Instant Cabin Tent which is an "Amazon Pick" with over 3,000 ratings and 4.5 stars!
- Waterproof Pad for Under Tent: how about this REDCAMP Waterproof Camping Tarp, #1 best seller on Amazon, for just $26 (though we'd need 2 if getting a super big tent)!
- Sleeping pads or air mattresses: comfort is king, especially for you glampers! This POWERLIX sleeping pad is Amazon's #1 best seller, packs to the size of a water bottle and is just 1.3 pounds! At $39 a piece, it adds up quickly though, I'm thinking just for my husband and myself.
- Sleeping bags: this is a tough one since they're temperature rated, you have to know what is the coldest you might be out camping in... you can get single sleeping bag, or a double if you wanna get cozy with your partner! This Tuphen sleeping bag is an Amazon Choice, rated down to 40*F, has a 2-way zipper, packs super small, and comes in 5 great colors.
- Pillows: Honestly, I may just bring my regular memory foam pillow... but this Wise Owl inflatable pillow is a top seller on Amazon.
- Heating mechanism (grill & charcoal, stove & propane gas)
- Cookware: this 17 piece set by Gold Armour is Amazon's top pick under $30.
- Recipes and food for easy campfire or barbecue cooking - I don't know how these Mountain HouseAdventure Meals taste but they look fun (and easy)!
- Drinks and snacks / food that don't require cooking, just don't forget necessary bottle or can openers
- Plates, bowls, cups, cutlery, napkins: call me old fashioned but it's probably easiest to go with disposable items, of course better for the environment if you bring reusable stuff made of stainless steel or another eco-friendly material)
- Cleaning supplies, collapsible sink, and means of food storage & garbage disposal (like this pop up garbage can) to avoid attracting avoid bears and animals.
- Lighting (flashlights, head lamps, or torches for inside the tent, getting to the bathroom, etc): check out this best selling 2-pack of LED lanterns or this 2-pack of headlamps.
- Portable chairs and table: this portable chair by Coleman and this folding aluminum table are Amazon best seller
- First Aid Kit: like this299 piece emergency kit
- Bug spray / repellent, sun block, and bare minimum toiletries
Obviously sky's the limit with camping activities - anything meant to do outdoors, especially with no gear or small portable travel-sized options work great! But you can think out of the box too. Look at some of these fun ideas!
Once you have all the gear, you're ready to go!! Obviously we haven't been camping yet but I've heard families RAVING about KOA campgrounds & Campsites. With pools, bounce pads, and tons of kid-friendly amenities, they make a really fun camping experience for families! Bring your tent or RV or book one of their cabins.
Not ready to load up on all the camping gear? Give glamping a go at a campsite already set up with the necessities! You can find great unique options here such as tents, teepees, tiny houses, RVs, barns, and more:
- Petite Retreats, Glamping Hub, and Airbnb have great lists of unique stays including tiny homes, yurts, cottages, glamping tents, and more.
- Harvest Hosts - if you have an RV, these 2k+ wineries, breweries, farms etc will let you camp for free!
- Many campgrounds have a few cabins - we actually spent a weekend in a KOA Cabin, read more about that here!