Free Printable ★ What to Pack when Camping with a Toddler (UPDATED)

July 10, 2013 by flyingdrunkenmonkey

What to pack when camping with a toddler - free printable - The Flying Drunken Monkey

This post has been sitting in my draft folder since we first got back from our camping trip in February. Five months late isn’t too bad!

This year was our second year going camping with Lily. Last year we went to a caravan park with powered sites which was good for us as it was our first time camping as a family. This year we decided to be a bit more daring and went to Green Patch in Booderee National Park on the South Coast. We had an unpowered site, across from an amenities block and only a short walk to the beach.

There were a few things that we forgot to pack last year that came in handy this year:

Gas BBQ – we bought a gas BBQ last year as we had forgotten to take the one we were borrowing from my parents. As we didn’t have a powered site this time this came in extra handy. We could’ve done all of the cooking in a fire (in the designated places away from our site) but it was so much easier to be able cook next to the tent.

Tarp – we bought an extra large tarp and borrowed some tent poles from Mr Monkey’s parents and erected a separate shelter next to the tent. This was great to sit under, to cook under and came in extra handy when it rained. It was nice to not be confined to the tent. We also bought another tarp to go under the tent which protected the tent from rocks on the ground. We didn’t have a tarp on the ground underneath the shelter – we just used a picnic rug if Lily wanted to sit on the ground. Another tarp may have been good for this.

Bucket – such a simple thing but we forget it last time and bought one. Mr Monkey used it when he went fishing (he caught one fish) and it came in handy for trips to the beach.

Hard Egg Holder - we bought one of these from a local camping store and it was great. No more soggy egg cartons!

Saucepan Lids – another simple thing that we forgot last time. It made it much easier to boil water and cook in general.

Full Cutlery and Plate and Bowl Sets – last time we took disposable plates and bowls and plastic Ikea knives, forks and spoons. However, for some reason I only packed enough cutlery for one meal each and really should have packed enough for at least two meals each. Right after that trip I was in Kmart and they had sets of plastic plates and bowls which worked out at about $3 per 6 plates or something like that. I bought 6 large plates, 6 small plates and 6 bowls. This worked out perfectly for us – we only had to wash everything once a day after dinner.

Better Blow Up Mattress – this wasn’t on our list from last year but after I fell pregnant we decided we definitely needed a better camping mattress. We took two single self-inflating mattresses last time that unfortunately… didn’t really inflate. I knew that being 7 months pregnant and having already had bad pelvis and back pain I wouldn’t be able to cope with basically sleeping on the ground. Mr Monkey bought a double inflatable mattress and one of my requirements was that it had to be quite high. It was still a little hard to get in and out of, especially as the ground was sloped slightly, but it was much more comfortable.

There were a few more things that we could’ve packed this year to make things easier:

Broom – I think I meant to put this on the list after last year but forgot. We did take a small brush and shovel but it would’ve been much easier to keep the sand controlled in the tent by using a proper broom. It would’ve also made cleaning the tent before packing it away easier.

Extra towels – We took one bath towel and one beach towel each. These were left hanging out one night and we were surprised by rain overnight. I think Lily might have also dropped her beach towel at one stage and it got a bit dirty. As we didn’t really have any way to do any washing we just had to make do. Having an extra towel each would’ve helped.

A trailer – we have a SUV and even with half of the back seat down we had to play a very hard game of Tetris to fit everything in. It made packing up extra stressful, especially as it started to rain and then our car wouldn’t start. From now on we’ll have Chloe with us as well so won’t be able to put the back seat down. So we’ll have more stuff and less space. We’ll be looking at borrowing or hiring a trailer for our next trip, to at least put the bigger things like the tents and eskies in.

More activities for Lily – last year, at just under 2 years old, Lily was fairly happy with just a ball, a bucket and spade and a few books. There was also a big playground in the caravan park. This year she was a lot harder to amuse. We went to the beach every day and while she was a little scared at first, by the end of the week she loved it. She rode on her Dad’s bodyboard and we bought her her own smaller one towards the end of the week at a nearby town. She had her bucket and spade to build sandcastles and she loved finding shells and throwing them in the water. However, I didn’t feel like going in the water (plus no swimsuits fit me!) and so there was only so much time Mr Monkey was willing to spend at the beach with her by himself. I sat on the beach and read books but I was also worried about Lily getting sunburnt. Coming back to the tent she would get bored easily and was constantly wanting our attention, making it hard for us to relax and enjoy our holiday. I took a few of her toys and books for her but they would only keep her attention for a very short time. We also took her scooter but she still wasn’t very confident on it and only rode it around the park once. I think next time I need to create a few activities for her to do. Being older she can probably do things like treasure hunts (finding different animals or trees etc) and craft using leaves etc. I will have to put more thought in to this before we go to make it easier and more relaxing when we are on holidays.

There was a few things that we found almost irreplaceable on this trip:

Gas BBQ – I know I mentioned this above but it really was one of the best things we packed. It stayed set up the entire time and just made cooking so much simpler.

An extra storage tub with lid – As we only washed the dishes once a day we put all of the dirty dishes in a tub with a lid. This kept it all contained and away from the animals. It also made it easier to carry it all down to the sinks and back.

Eskies and storage – we took two eskies (coolers) this year – one for food and one for drinks. This meant we weren’t constantly opening the food esky to get drinks. We also took a few soft sided boxes and a crate to store the dry goods in. The extra good thing about the eskies was that they were able to be closed at night and left outside, without us worrying about the animals getting in to them. The soft sided boxes had to be put in the car or tent each night, along with the rubbish. We may have to look into better storage boxes with lids for next year.

Torches and lamp – there is of course no lighting in the park (except in the amenities block) so unless you are the type of person to go to bed and get up with the sun, a lamp is a must have. We actually didn’t spend much time sitting outside after dark this time (the chairs were too uncomfortable for me to sit in for too long) but it came in handy for inside the tent. The torches were also good for going to the toilet during the night. I also had a book light which, for me, was a must have.

Being close to the amenities block – This was obviously not something we took and actually not even something we planned, but being in the first site closest to the amenities block was one of the best things we did. Lily was toilet training while we were away and besides only one accident in the entire week she did excellently. Having the toilets so close by made this so much easier. I would’ve hated to have to walk a distance with a toilet-training toddler!

Next year we are hoping to go back to Green Patch, this time with Mr Monkey’s family. We’ll have Chloe this time, who should be about 9 months old and Lily will be 4. I’ll probably come back with another list of things to remember!

What to pack when camping with a toddler - free printable - The Flying Drunken Monkey

Last year I put together a spreadsheet of everything we needed to pack and I updated it again this year before we left. It made packing so much easier as I just ticked everything off as it was packed and I kept the list on me as we were packing the car to ensure it all went in.

I updated the list again when we got home so it’s ready for next time and I’ve moved the columns around a little to make it a bit more cohesive and easier to see where everything is.

The spreadsheet is available to download for free below (you’ll need Microsoft Excel) and I’d love to hear what you think of it if you download it. It’s a very general list and might not be entirely suitable for your needs but there is room to add things and you are also able to delete things. Let me know if there is anything important missing!

Click HERE to download my updated Camping Packing List Printable

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Related posts:

{Free Printable} - What to take camping with a toddler - Part 2
Free Printable ★ Weekly Meal Planning Template (Updated)
Free Printable ★ What to Pack when Camping with Children (UPDATED)


  1. How handy – however, we’re not brave enough to attempt camping with 3 under 5 yet – call me lazy but I think it would be a nightmare unless we had like 10 days away and the hubby doesn’t get time off until Xmas – great list for me to keep for down the track :) Emily
    Emily @ Have a laugh on me recently posted…A guest post from a travelling teddy – be warned – he’s got attitude!My Profile

  2. Danya Banya says:

    I used to go to Greenpatch all the time as a kid. We’re not keen to go just yet, but maybe when the baby is a toddler we’ll give it a go. Thanks for the great tips – I’ll refer back when the time comes! xx Danya
    Danya Banya recently posted…Wow – one year old already!My Profile

  3. I love Green Patch. It is such a gorgeous spot. It’s funny because I always forget a bucket too. I think I should just carry one in the car permanently. Thanks for the reminder x

  4. Lollerskater says:

    You mentioned lots of sand in the tent, so I thought I’d make a suggestion – keep a tub of water and a towel next to the door, or near the entrance of your tarp shelter. Whenever you come back ‘home’, everyone has to step in the water to rinse their feet, then onto the towel to dry off. I went camping with a friend from school and her family many years ago now, they went to the same spot every year for 2 weeks, and this was a (very strictly enforced!) trick that my friend’s Mum had to keep excess sand getting tracked into their shelters and tents. xx

    PS – I’m so proud of you for taking a toddler camping! Mr Coaster and I are hoping to get away for a camping trip this summer with DJ, who will be 2.5 by then :)

  5. Katyberry says:

    This is a fantastic resource. We have laminated a similar list at our house. Our main problem is that we don’t have a huge car, and so it is REALLY hard to fit everything in. We also have a MEGA tent that takes up the roof rack.
    We are going to try going a different way, this Spring. With 2 small and light hiking tents, we are going to do minimalist camping – just chuck a few things in the car and go! We are intending only for overnight trips, in places where their are shops and facilities. For our bigger trips, we almost need a day off beforehand to get ready and it gets VERY stressful.
    Love your blog
    Katyberry recently posted…What the heck is this Crossfit thingy, anyway?My Profile

    • Cassie says:

      The car situation definitely makes it hard. We actually haven’t made use of the roof racks yet but may next year.
      Oh minimalist camping sounds like fun! I’d love to hear how you go with that. :)

  6. Sam says:

    Love reading other people’s travelling tips! My hubby doesn’t ‘do’ sand… or tents! Our most recent camping trip was just me and my daughter in a tent in a friend’s backyard. Still lots of fun :) (linking from Maxabella’s Weekend Rewind)

  7. Maxabella says:

    Such a cute blog you’ve got here!! I loved this post although I confess it’s because we’ve been planning out first family camping trip for about five years now… gulp! x

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