Think the wilds of Alaska are calling your name? Although you might be ready to head full-force into the wilderness, it's probably best to start off closer to home. Families with small kids in particular should take a couple of nearby test trips first to gauge the whole group's interest in this popular American pastime.
Lots of areas have local campsites for novice campers, complete with grills, areas for contained fires and even the occasional bathroom. That way, if your kid flips out about sleeping on the ground or using the bathroom in the woods, you can easily head for home. Bruce and Crystal Freemon of Nashville, Tenn., recently tested this theory and played it safe for their first family campout with two young daughters. "We just went to our local state park so we could bail and come home if we needed to," explains Crystal. "And we only planned one night for our first go. We actually had a really good time!"
What if one kid is having a great time while the other is itching for the comforts of the TV room? We don't exactly advocate bribery, but gooey hot s'mores can sway a little one's opinion about the great outdoors very easily!