Backcountry camping with kids, car camping in a tent with kids, front country camping in a camper van with kids, and living the van life as a family… we have done it all!
Your Guide to Camping with Kids
Van life with kids
When I was pregnant with our second daughter, I became obsessed with needing a VW Eurovan. I hunted everyday to find one that would meet our budget, and also not look like it would break down.
I found Dusty, a 1993 Eurovan. He has taking us on countless camping adventures.
A few years ago, we lived the van life with Dusty for three months as a family!
The memories we made as a family were truly unforgettable. Sure, there were the hard moments like when our van broke down or when we were unable to find a place to camp and it was pitch black outside.
But, after we couldn’t find a place to camp new Zion National Park meant that we actually found a beautiful free camping spot where we spent the week
Why a van and not an RV or camper?
I wanted to be able to connect as a family and I also wanted to be forced to spend most of our time outdoors.
A camper van can also drive into different areas where a larger camper or RV can have difficulty accessing. We love the flexibility and the adventure that a van brings for our family.
Owning a VW Eurovan also brings with it a whole new community of enthusiasts that love the old camper vans. We met friends at Joshua Tree because we had the same van. That led to them letting us stay the weekend at their place (hot tub included) in San Diego while they camped over the weekend.
How did we sleep a family of four in a van? Our family has been through all types of configurations because we started camping with them when we had a newborn and a two year old! Now our girls are five and seven.
Family Van Life Budget
If you choose to live the van life as a family for an extended period, I highly recommend keeping track of your spending. We used Trail Wallet App to track our expenses.
Family Van Life Budget : I put together a three month family van life budget! You can see where we spent out money, where we splurged, and where we saved our money.
Finding the Money for a Family Van Life Trip: Find out how we afforded to take time off work and live in our van for three months. It did not involve having a large savings account or selling our house! In fact, my husband was just finishing school and we had student loan debt.
We have camped with kids through all ages and even with a newborn as young as three weeks old! We have tips for baby sleep, toddler sleep, best baby camping beds
- Family Van Life Budget: The cost of living 3 months on the road!
- Ditch the Ipad and try these Road Trip Activities for Kids
- Van Life Family: Lost in the Dark
- Broken Down: Is Van Life really for us?
- Leaving on an Adventure: Van Life with Kids
- Something else has broken – Adventures in our VW Van
- We Have Water! Filling up a VW Van water tank (Video)
- Finding the Money for a Family Van life Trip
- Van Life Families: Finding your village
- Camping in a VW Van : How to sleep a family of 4
Camping with Kids
Tips for Camping with Kids and Babies
I remember the very first camping trip we took with a baby. Our oldest daughter was only six weeks old.
We were so nervous and I work up a million times to check up on her.
Then, after we had our second daughter, we went camping when she was only three weeks old.
We all slept amazing. I slept like a rock and our new baby slept six hours straight.
I am telling you this because adventuring kids does get easier and putting in the effort is 100% worth it.
As a family, we have slept in a tent together when were babies and almost every year since. In the summer of 2020, we spent six weeks camping in a tent!
Best 4 Man Tent for Families: I share our car camping and backcountry tents that we love! In the post I also include budget friendly options and a tent that has black out material.
Best Camping Beds for Babies: Camping beds for babies to help everyone have a better nights sleep.
10 Tips for Camping with a Newborn: These tips will help you feel more confident camping with a baby.
Camping while pregnant: I went on a canoe backpacking trip when I was 34 weeks pregnant and then car camping when I was 35 weeks pregnant. One week later I had my first daughter at 36 weeks pregnant. This post highlights the “joys” of camping while pregnant and, if you are close to popping, you may relate to the challenges I faced.
Baby Sleep While Camping: Baby sleep is often what parents worry about the most. Some nights, just like at home, may not be that great. Here are some tips to help you out.
Toddler Sleep While Camping: Tackle toddler sleep while camping with these tips!
More on baby sleep.
Sleep while camping improves after the first night or two so don’t give up! Sometimes one camping trip can be more challenging for sleep then another one only a month later.
My one and half year old has woken up in the middle of the night to scream for an hour. I know friends that have had to take their baby for a walk in the middle of the night in a carrier to help them sleep. Those nights while camping are rough but those sleepless nights also happen at home.
Backcountry Camping with a Baby and Kids
Cam and I took our first daughter on a backcountry camping trip when she was just under one year old. Both of our girls have now been on multiple backcountry trips including hiking the West Coast Trail one of Canada’s most challenging thru hikes.
Backcountry camping with a baby does take a little bit more safety knowledge than front-country camping with a baby.
You really want to be prepared in case of a worst case scenario.
Obviously you cannot predict the events that may go wrong but try to answer these questions before going.
How will you contact help if something happens? Are you fairly mentally strong and able to hike out in extreme circumstances? Is the trip within your physical capabilities even if you are up all night breastfeeding and do not get any sleep?
Guide to Hiking the West Coast Trail: Complete guide to Hiking the West Coast Trail.
Gear Packing List: FREE DOWNLOAD of our backcountry gear. Includes what went into each of our backpacks (including our 6 and 8 year old) over a 10 day backcountry trip.
Food List: FREE DOWNLOAD of our food for a 10 day backcountry trip! Includes a breakdown of food each day and the calories to make sure we had enough energy! Could easily be used for shorter backcountries.
Complete Backpacking Hiking Packing List for Families: I wrote a complete hiking packing list for families heading into the backcountry to help make sure you a are prepared for all scenarios but still pack light.
Best Hiking Backpacks for Kids: Includes backpacks for toddlers to big kids. There are even options for backcountry hiking backpacks.
Tips for Backpacking with a Baby: These 11 tips will help you prepare for a backcountry camping trip with a baby. I also share our first backcountry trip and the events that made it turn for the worst.
Tips for Backpacking with Toddlers (or in our case, backpacking with two toddlers): Check out our experience backpacking with two toddlers. Learn the tips that helped it be a really positive experience for the whole family! Also, learn how we packed all the food and gear while still having one toddler that occasionally needed to be in a carrier.
Type 2 Fun: I had a lot of fun sharing our experience getting to backcountry site a few years back. It really shows how backpacking with kids is Type 2 fun.
I’ll leave you with an old video just to show you the memories that you can create when you enjoy these types of experiences with your kids.
Road Trips with Kids
I heard someone once say “My kids are now 10 years old. I think we are now able to go on a road trip with them”.
We started road tripping with our kids when they were babies! As they have grown, we continue to drive up to 10 hours. We do these long drives without the use of any videos or Ipads.
Why do we avoid screens while driving?
On our van trip, I was worried the kids (age three and five) would spend too much time wanting to watch shows. I had heard of other friends complaining to watch a show when they were bored during long drives.
The kids soon became used to long drives. We have found various ways to entertain them on the road.
Driving now with a five year old and seven year old is significantly easier. The only challenge I face now is that my back hurts from those longer drives.
Try these road trip activities for kids: Road trip activities and ideas to help you entertain the kids on the long drives.
As a family, we have explored many beautiful places in Canada and the USA.
Road Trips around USA and Canada
10 Epic Family Adventures across the USA: Bike a 15 mile trail that passes through train tunnels and is completely downhill, enjoy hot springs and mountain biking in Idaho, and explore unbelievable landscape that resembles a Mars landing.
Explore Central Idaho: A guide to exploring central Idaho with kids. Enjoy mountain biking, beautiful lakes, and hot springs!
Explore the beautiful coastline in Mendocino, California: On our van trip, we were hosted a few nights at Little River Inn which is located in Mendocino, California. Mendocino is worth visiting on any coastal road trip.
Check out these other beautiful places to road trip
- Cypress Hills Saskatchewan: Family Fun at Grotto Gardens Family Fun Farm
- Family Adventure Travel: The Ultimate Bike Road Trip across Idaho
- Soak Up the Ultimate Family Adventure at Grand Targhee
- Ditch the Ipad and try these Road Trip Activities for Kids
- Explore Northern Idaho : Bikes, Brews and Family Fun
- Roadtripping with 3 young children: 5 Family West Coast Destinations
- 5 Family Friendly Surf Destinations
- Chasing Waterfalls
- Surfing in Portugal with a Baby
As a family, we love exploring outdoor spaces near beautiful family friendly hikes!
Want to learn more about us? Learn about my family and I on our About Us Page!
The Born to be Adventurous platform has grown beyond my family. Learn more about the Born to be Adventurous platform.
I wrote a book!
Hikes for Families: A Guide to the Canadian Rockies was funded on Kickstarter in September 2019 and launched in June 2020! Check it out here.