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Family Camping Checklist

Tent or RV?
Tent or RV? Both have their pluses and minuses.
Tent or RV? Both have their pluses and minuses.

If you're not into roughing it, it's all right to admit your limitations. Purists may beg to differ, but setting up camp in a luxury-laden RV still offers access to pastoral views and outdoorsy activities. It also offers a homelike level of comfort at mealtimes and bedtimes, thanks to an oven, refrigerator, mattress, shower and indoor toilet (this is especially handy if your child is potty-training). Families with toddlers may also find that locking the RV doors at night reduces fears that a child may wander away in the dark, as opposed to an easy-escape tent.

However, families with older children may relish the solitude and challenge of tent camping. Getting away from the bustle of an RV campground has its benefits: Less traffic and noise, more privacy and quiet. Often, you can find a "back country" site within a short hike of a main campground, but you'll need to carry your own gear. Plan on packing:

  • A family-sized tent with extra tent pegs
  • Sleeping bags
  • Lantern and flashlights (pack one for each child, with extra batteries)
  • Folding chairs and table
  • First aid kit
  • Cooking supplies, including camping stove, food, snacks and bottled water

Just be sure to pitch your tent on a flat area, but never in a valley (not even one that's bone dry) because this location puts you at risk if flash flooding occurs. Depending on the locale, you may also want to take:

  • A fishing pole
  • Fishing bait or lures
  • Hip-waders and lifejackets