How to Take a 6 Day Camping Road Trip with Kids and Not Lose your Mind (And Have Tons of Fun Too)

201603170001{All photos in this post by Tina Carter}

You can read about what we did and where we did it in this post on our recent 6 day camping trip, but with this post I’d like to give some tips for HOW we did it. I am still amazed that we were able to be out for 6 days, cover about 1700 miles and still like each other at the end of the trip! 🙂

 How to Plan the Trip

Tina and I started planning our trip by opening Google Maps. We knew we could be gone for only 6 days because we couldn’t miss our homeschool class on Thursdays as Tina and I are both teachers there. The fact that it was February meant we needed to head South so we would not freeze to death. We figured our kids could tolerate at most 6 hours in the car at a time. Somehow through our searching we found out that manatees winter inland in Central Florida and that seemed about the right difference and hello, manatees! From there we looked again at the map and just looked for big splotches of green that indicate National Parks, State parks, other places of interest for us.

Choosing Your Travel Partner

It’s an understatement to say that travel with kids can be stressful. When you add another family into the mix, with their different temperaments, ages of children, parenting style, tolerances for mess and craziness, sleep schedules, food issues, etc., any little things can be amplified into something that drives you crazy.  I am happy to say I did not have that problem as we’ve camped with Tina and Ayla before and because Tina and I are pretty similar in our approaches to parenting. Greta, Alice, and Ayla are already best buds and get along as well as any kids can get along. 201603160014201603160005

(A good travel partner won’t mind when you have to spend 20 minutes trying to get a splinter out of your terrified daughter’s foot.)

Food

My biggest recommendation for food is to keep it simple and plan ahead. I also handled all the food for both families- it was just way easier for us that way. Because we were setting up and taking down camp most nights (we did stay two nights at Crooked River State Park) I wanted the food to be easy and something I could cook on my camping stove. I have one like this (affiliate link). I love cooking on a fire, but I did not want to make hungry kids wait for the fire to get going and food to cook in case we arrived late or wanted to stay longer hiking or exploring. We had a hot breakfast each morning- usually scrambled eggs (you can scramble them at home and then pour into a plastic bottle and mark each serving with a marker and simply pour what you need each day), bacon and pumpkin bread or instant oatmeal. For lunch I made peanut butter sandwiches or turkey wraps- something we could take on a hike or at a rest area. For dinner we had things like sausages and boxed mac and cheese, quesadillas and boxed veggie soup, and my (sorry to brag) really yummy beef chili that I made ahead of time and froze flat in a freezer bag. You need to consider how many things you’ll need to keep cold. We only had to add more ice once on the trip. Snacks were things like bags of chips and popcorn, apple sauce pouches, granola bars, and lots of fresh fruit and vegetables.

The Car Ride/Down Time at the Camp Site

Keeping it real at the campsite 😉201603160010We were lucky to be able to borrow the Sprinter van Tina’s husband uses for their restaurant (Red River Rockhouse- check it out if you are in Kentucky!) so we had lots of room and did not have to worry about packing light.

We tried our best to limit car rides to 6 hours and our longest drives were at the start and end of the trip. We had audiobooks for the ride for us all to listen to together and each kid had their own cheap little MP3 player loaded with audiobooks and music. We also printed out coloring sheets and activity pages for the animals, plants, and insects of the areas we were visiting. Not to mention we stocked up on new books at each park we visited (I consider it a charitable donation and so I tend to go crazy!) On longer trips we also made use of tablets for movies or games.

201603160013201603160025Here they are playing Obstacles. We also brought along these Tell Me A Story cards, Spot It, and Uno. {affiliate links}

201603160029These cake tempera pans are great for bringing camping as they are able to take a beating and they are low mess.

Smores and Fire

End each night with s’mores and a campfire. I mean, that’s just common sense 🙂

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