If you’ve been pondering a family camping trip but haven’t yet pitched the tent, here are 10 tried-and-true tips that will make your inaugural camping experience a little easier when you have little ones in tow.
Book ahead and consider weekdays
Texas State Parks are open, but many are operating on reduced capacity and limited camping reservations. Fortunately, you can make overnight camping reservations at most parks five months in advance at texasstateparks.reserveamerica.com/. Weekends are often booked up, but don’t rule out less-crowded midweek trips.
Check COVID-19 protocols
Check each park’s policies and guidelines designed to keep the parks open and keep everyone safe at tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/park-information/keeping-you-healthy.
When in doubt, pack it
Camping with kids is the one trip I can’t “pack light” for, from little extras like shovels and buckets to provide endless hours of digging entertainment for kids or an air mattress to help Mom get some sleep at night.
Inaugural trip in a tent? Set your sights on a state park that’s close to home so if you need to pack up camp, it’s no big deal to head home early to rest your head in your own bed.
Check the weather
When it comes to camping, Mother Nature is boss so keep a close eye on the weather and don’t be afraid to abandon camp when it’s no longer safe or comfortable to sleep outside.
Plan the menu
Make a list of all the meals, snacks and drinks your crew will need for the duration of the trip, hit the grocery store in advance and pack everything on plenty of ice — or dry ice if you need items to stay colder longer. Don’t forget fixings for s’mores and hot cocoa.
Some campsites do not have running water or electricity. Look up site features beforehand — you might need to rely on battery-operated items and tote along water and soap from home for washing hands and dishes.
Cast a line
Enjoy fishing at more than 70 state parks across the state — a fishing license isn’t required within Texas State Parks.
Buy a Texas State Parks Pass
It costs $70 and includes unlimited free entry to 89 state parks for you and your guests for one year.
Must-haves include: tent, sleeping bags, pillows, hiking and waterproof shoes, several pairs of socks, clothing layers, wipes, ear plugs, hat, sunscreen, insect repellant, swim suit, rain jacket, toothbrush, towel, first aid kit, folding chairs, flashlights/headlamps/lanterns, coffee press, binoculars, books, card games, camera, trash bags, plates and cutlery, cups, skewers, knives, paper towels, charcoal, firewood, kindling, starter fluid, waterproof matches, cooler and ice, biodegradable soap, can opener, foil, cooking pan/utensils, stove/fuel, and batteries.