Surviving the family camping trip requires more than food, water, and shelter. In order to return from the wilderness with your sanity intact, not to mention keep whining to a minimum, you need to keep your little zombies comfortable. The best way to do this is to get organized, and getting organized starts with packing the car. Here are some hacks that will inspire you to get creative on your trip!

Camping Made Simple | 5 Hacks to Help You Get Started

Camping Made Simple | 5 Hacks to Help You Get Started | Camping Made Simple: Camping Hacks

Camping Hacks for Families Make Your Next Camping Trip a Breeze Photo by

1. Bring Only the Essentials

Ever hear the expression, “you can’t take it all with you”? This applies to family camping trips as well. Instinct may tell you to pack for any eventuality, but smart and savvy packing will make the trip run smoother in the end. Basic necessities like clothing and toiletries are fine because­ you’ll need those. But you should take a good hard look at each item you’re planning on bringing to the camping trip. Is it necessary, and how many functions can it perform? Find items that can do double duty to cut down on clutter. If it only has one purpose, it doesn’t make the cut!

2. Choose DIY Camping Equipment Over Store-bought ones

The first thing you’ll notice after checking out these hacks is you don’t need to purchase as many camping goods as you thought you did. Don’t lug around floating water beds and sleeping pads for the tent, instead use an inflatable air mattress for both. My personal favorite hack is using a hanging shoe organizer to store all non-perishable food and kitchen tools. You can roll it up to save space when you’re not using it, and easily keep track of all those small items. All of a sudden, bringing the salt and pepper shakers from home doesn’t seem unreasonable!

3. Pack Frozen Water Bottles in Your Cooler

Keeping the family hydrated is the most important aspect of a healthy camping trip. In order to save space, pack bottles of frozen water in your cooler. They’ll be used later as drinking water and it also takes care of keeping your first meal at the campsite fresh.

4. Make a Homemade Fire Starter

Make a Homemade Fire Starter | Camping Made Simple: Camping Hacks

Camping Hacks for Families Make Your Next Camping Trip a Breeze Photo by

For a fire starter, we advise you to use the homemade version crafted from dryer lint and wax and stored in an egg carton. Speaking of campfires, the best type of fires for cooking is the log-cabin style, because it can support cookware. To achieve this type of fire, stack kindling at right angles, overlaying each piece so that it balances on the ones below it. Use the largest pieces on the bottom and the smallest on top. When choosing your location to build the fire, keep in mind nearby objects, but also keep an eye out for low-hanging branches overhead. The Lifestrike fire starter is just a $0.01 and waterproof. Grab it here.

5. Identify Which “Luxury” Camping Gear in Worth Bringing

Once you’ve created some much-needed space by cutting down on needless stuff, you can work in some “luxury” camping goods that will add exponential value to your trip. Water shoes, insect repellant candles and clothing, and a durable hammock will all make your family much more comfortable on your trip.

A sun shelter is the most expensive item on this list, coming in at around $150. Sun shelters actually straddle the line between luxury and necessity, as they’re designed for comfort. But if you’re camping in an especially hot area, they can help your children stay cool during those peak sunny hours. A trek to the river or beach can end up being cut short because of the blazing sun.

If you’re unsure whether or not you’ll need this item, then refer back to our old double-duty idea. Bring a large golf umbrella, that way you’ll have protection from excessive sun or rain!

Check out 10 more camping tricks from Destination Tips in this video.

These tips serve as a good primer for your first family camping trip, but the best way to come up with new ones is to get out there yourself! Getting your children into the wilderness early on in their childhood is crucial if you want them to love camping because taking surly teenagers for the first time isn’t a walk in the park. For more tips, check out Amy Whitley’s guide to camping hacks for families!

What are your go-to hacks when camping? Share them with us in the comments section below.

Infographic | Camping Made Simple: Camping Hacks


Did you forget some camping gear? Check out the Survival Life Store for camping gear and survival tools!

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on December 10, 2014, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.