Post contains affiliate links. Camping with kids in the double digits (or even five or six kids) takes some planning and forethought. We have been camping with our large family since 2002. We have learned a few things over the years and I am here to share our best large family camping hacks with you.
Rent a Trailer
Don’t be afraid to think outside the box (or moving truck) when planning a large family camping trip. We drive a 15 passenger van which means there is virtually no storage space unless we removed the back seat. This year we were only taking nine kids camping, so we had the luxury of removing the seat, but it still wasn’t enough room. Chuck rented a small Uhaul trailer which we filled with camp gear and eleven bikes. It was small enough that it was easy to pull and large enough to haul our gear.
Organize and Label
This idea came from the friends we were camping next to at our annual church campout I was so excited about their organized set up that (much to my children’s chagrin) I went over and took photos of her system…then recreated it for our five-day camping trip to the Oregon Coast!
Chuck bought these bins with flip-top lids to store our kitchen supplies and a couple of these large Sterilite bins. I took a sharpie along and labeled the bins on our trip. This way I knew exactly what we needed (items we remembered and the ones we forgot). I wrote it all on the outside of the bins, so they are all ready for our next trip. I am hopeful that even the older kids will be able to help pack these with minimal help.
Be smart about how you pack your coolers.
Chuck had the brilliant idea to get a bar mat and cut it to fit in the bottom of our coolers. This way as the ice began to melt, we didn’t have food floating around in the water. This worked out so well. Once we were set up in our campsite, he opened the drain on the side, the water drained out as the ice melted and our food stayed cool and dry.
Shop on Location
Unless you are camping in the wilderness, you may be better off shopping at your destination than home. For the past two years, we have driven from northwest Washington (we are only 20 minutes from the Canadian border) all the way to the Oregon Coast. That is a long way to haul meat and loaves of bread. Our campground was only about 10 minutes from a Costco and Fred Meyer. Next year we’ll be buying our perishables in Oregon.
Plan Your Meals
Do I even need to say this? Of course, you need to plan your meals and plan well. This year we have a variety of options for breakfast every morning (granola, yogurt, instant oatmeal, muffins). I laid these out each morning and everyone chose what they wanted. Eggs in a bag have been a huge hit in the past.
Lunches consisted of sandwiches, chips, fruits, and veggies. Dinner is where I spent most of my time planning and prepping.
Campfire Cheesesteaks were a huge hit again. This has become a favorite camping tradition.
Other favorite camping meals include fajitas (have everything prepped ahead and just reheat), chili dogs, yogurt parfait, nachos (cooked over the fire in an aluminum pan), and meals wrapped in foil and cooked in the fire.
Think about your tents.
Tents the size of the Taj Mahal seem like a great idea…until you try to set them up and cram your entire family into it. We have found a little space can work wonders for family unity! Chuck, Apollo and I sleep in this Hooligan 4-man tent and we own several of these 3-man tents for the kids. They are inexpensive but do the job well. Also, the best thing we have ever done is to give our children with sensory needs a tent of their own. There is no one to fight with and they get their space at night.
Another important consideration is the climate where you live. We are in the Pacific Northwest and it can get chilly at night in the summer, particularly if we are in the woods or on a mountain. Bigger tents are much harder to keep warm. For camping in cooler areas, we have found a few small tents will keep us warmer at night than one big one. If you live in a hot climate, you might opt for bigger tents to keep you cool.
Check out my Large Family Camping Pinterest board there are some really amazing ideas on there.
Make a Check List
Are you a camper or a glamper? What are your favorite large family camping hacks?by