How to Survive Camping with a Toddler

How to Survive Camping with a Toddler

I have ummed and ahhed about writing this post for so long. Mainly because I don’t really know anything about toddlers. After all, I have only dealt with one on a daily basis; and he just happens to be the easiest, most laid back kid ever.

So, while undoubtedly unqualified in the parenting stakes, I do know a bit about camping. After camping with a baby last summer,  I thought I should post a little update with how we’ve managed this year. This isn’t really a ‘how to’ guide. If you’re struggling with a non sleeping, tantrumming, fussy eater of a child, I’m thinking that you really don’t need me handing out unsolicited and unhelpful advice.

I’ll just tell you what works for us and how we go about things.


When it comes to food, we keep it simple and stick to favourites. Finn mainly eats pasta, avocado, banana and beans on toast when we camp.  He loves yoghurts and fruit so I take plenty for snacks, as well as a few biscuits to keep him happy on walks and car journeys. The main reason we go EHU these days is to keep Finn supplied with milk and yogurts!

Camping with Kids

Finn with his favourite snack

It may not be the perfect diet, but it keeps him happy and it’s only for a few days. I also let him eat outside on the floor so it doesn’t matter if he makes a mess. At our last campsite the chickens helpfully cleared up after mealtimes!


We are lucky in that Finn will sleep in the pushchair or car, so we generally try and go for either a drive or a walk to coincide with nap time.

As for sleeping at night, we’re even luckier in that our toddler is easy to settle and then usually sleeps right through at home. The first time we went away this year, we had no idea whether it would work when camping , or if we were in for a very long night!

The 2 bedroom compartments of an Outwell Montana 6AC tent

Our tent, showing our bedrooms

Fortunately, when camping it’s easy to tire Finn out with lots of walking, exploring the campsite and being out in the fresh air. At bedtime I put him in a travel sleeping bag, give him a bottle and push him around in the buggy until he falls asleep. We then leave him for a while and then transfer him into bed once he is in a deep sleep. This has worked so far, although I’m sure next year it will be different again.

And Finally…

I know it’s easier said than done, but just breathe and let it go. The tent will get messy, there will be mud, routines will not be adhered to and it will rain. Your child won’t suffer any long term harm if they live on sausages and beans for a few days. During our last trip, me and Luke didn’t sleep well and that, combined with running after a toddler, left us completely knackered. To be honest it wasn’t one of my favourite breaks, but I came home feeling so happy. Finn had had an absolutely brilliant time. Seeing him running confidently around the campsite was amazing-especially as he’d only been walking for a couple of months. It is also fantastic for him to have so much more freedom than usual. We have a small house and I always feel so guilty having to keep him contained, so to see him with lots of space to explore was awesome.

A toddler runs around a campsite

Exploring and rocking the camping look in his pjs and boots!

So we’ll be back next year for more fun under canvas, more outdoor adventures and more memory making.

Have you camped with young children? What are your top tips?


Monkey and Mouse






  • Melissa Smuzynski Melissa Smuzynski September 12, at 17:01

    This is a wonderful post! We have been nervous to camp with our toddler. (She’s not as laid back as Finn) ? But we have talked about giving it a try next year. We hike with her a lot and she loves the outdoors. Like you, I feel guilty when we are stuck in our small(ish) house all day.

    • TheHelpfulHiker TheHelpfulHiker September 12, at 22:01

      Give it a go! The first time don’t go too far from home and just try one night. I’m sure you’ll have great fun 🙂

  • Tryphena Bolton Tryphena Bolton September 12, at 18:11

    We are very lucky with our toddler too. Those of you who want to keep yoghurt a and milk cool but don’t want electric hook up could still go for a cool box. We invested in an igloo which is fab. Pack with ice and it keeps food chilled for 5 days!

    • TheHelpfulHiker TheHelpfulHiker September 12, at 22:01

      Yes, we used to have a cool box and they are fab, I’m just getting lazy in my old age!

  • bellamonte bellamonte September 12, at 23:17

    Great post, I love your tent! Your toddler even has his own bedroom! We’ve been camping with our girls at any age. But we always had a small van with an adjacent tent or here just the pop-up Eurovan and a tent for the stuff. I still remember our trip to the Normandy where our second daughter was only 2 months and our older one was 3 and a half years old. Fun times! My top tips now would be to give your kids their own responsibilities during the camping trip, like disposing the trash, set up the tent, do the dishes, but that doesn’t apply for toddlers 😉 When our kids were smaller we always had wooden puzzles to keep them busy, also during the drive, coloring supplies, stickers maybe, something to keep them busy when it rains or they are getting tired.

    • TheHelpfulHiker TheHelpfulHiker September 18, at 21:35

      I love your tips, will definitely be using some of those-especially giving Finn his own jobs! Camping is a great way to make family memories 🙂

  • Let kids be kids Let kids be kids September 21, at 14:33

    We camped with our three kids for the first time this year and loved it. I was worried about taking them until now (aged 6,6 and 8). Camping is such a great opportunity to spend quality time together. #Whatevertheweather

    • TheHelpfulHiker TheHelpfulHiker September 22, at 15:10

      Glad you had a great time! Camping is such a brilliant family holiday and a fab way to spend time together 🙂

  • My son is young when we started camping and letting him play in the mud is what its all about for us. This post made me remember those sweet moments we have accumulated with our trips =) #whatevertheweather

  • Jenny Eaves Jenny Eaves September 24, at 21:11

    I love your tent set up! It looks so tidy and well laid out inside! Ours is a lot messier and probably smaller, my ultimate aim is to have a tent with an extra ‘porchway’ so we can leave all the muddy things out there and not let the rain in the tent! I can easily get A to sleep as he still breastfeeds to sleep and I imagine next year will be much the same at 3 years old. His big brother is much more difficult and gets even more hyper when really exhausted, he can keep himself awake for a surprisingly long time!! We still have a great time despite tiredness though. Thanks for linking up to #Whatevertheweather 🙂 x

  • Zoe Zoe June 06, at 11:14

    Great tips! We’ve been camping with the kids when they were smaller (it makes me sad that they’re not toddlers anymore!) and I completely agree about being relaxed. We found, the longer we were camping, a natural routine fell into place anyway. We make sure we take little torches so the kids can use them if they feel a bit scared at night, and their favourite teddy also goes with them!

  • Fairplay to you for making this work. It must be an amazing experience for Finn, that alone must be worth it 🙂 #adventurecalling

  • Kate Kate June 11, at 12:36

    Great post. I love camping with my two but it is definitely hard work! #adventurecalling

  • Gareth Gareth June 12, at 10:44

    Super post! Family camping is always a challenge, but a great experience all the same. I hope you made many great memories. #adventurecalling

  • Lauren Lauren June 18, at 12:06

    I love the picture of Finn running round in his pjs and wellies. So cute.
    You’re so right. It doesn’t hurt to let routines slip. You’re making brilliant memories.


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