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12 Stress-Free Tips for Camping With Kids

Summer is nearly here, so break out the tents, marshmallows and lanterns. It's time to take the kids camping, and we've got the scoop on how to make a weekend family camp-out easy and fun.

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Make a Reservation

You can pull up to many campgrounds and get a spot for your tent, but it’s risky, particularly during the busy summer season. Your best bet is to make a reservation ahead of time on a booking site like, which lets you book campsites in many national parks, forests and wilderness areas. For state and regional parks, as well as family campgrounds, bookmark With tired and hungry kids in the car, you don't want to be turned away at the gate.

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Plan Meals Ahead of Time

Take one less decision out of family camping by creating a meal plan ahead of time and bringing along everything you need for those meals to come to life at your campsite. Blogger Kimberly Tate of Stuffed Suitcase created a printable camping menu and shopping list to fill in for each day of camping. Be mindful of meal-related items too, like condiments, hand wipes, cooking supplies, trash bags and plastic cutlery.

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Start Close to Home

You may be eager to pitch a tent at the Grand Canyon, but for those first few camping trips with kids, stick close to home. Start with a local park with tent sites and fire rings or even set up in your own backyard. You don’t want to get hundreds of miles from home and realize you forgot the sleeping bags, the first aid kit and a supply of water. The first camping experiences should be low-stress and carefree for everyone to help ensure future camp-out fun.

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Bring Insect Repellant

Nothing can ruin a family camping trip just like that than a swarm of gnats or a handful of itchy mosquito bites. With that, one of the most important items you can bring on a camp-out is a can of bug spray to ward off those pesky insects. A spray bottle of homemade herbal bug repellant works just as well. Bring along citronella candles, too, for after dark. Calamine lotion will help with post-bite relief if one of the pests makes it through your repellant barriers.

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