We travelled a lot with our son and camped a lot. Initially, we made many mistakes, he once touched the top of a Coleman lantern and burnt himself. I packed it away and went and bought a battery lantern. I bought a tent without checking the specs from a well-known chain, it was so small we had to crawl into it and had a few uncomfortable nights in the Richtersveld. I learnt a lot over the years and eventually got it right. It became a fun experience for the family. Some other failures included forgetting sunblock. Not packing enough clothing, especially warm stuff. And things to occupy young minds.
Eventually, we remembered all the little things such as books, toys and even a favourite stuffed animal which doubled as a pillow to sleep in the car. Then never forget a small blanket and wet wipes. Or even a favourite cup or juice bottle-all important stuff.
But a few items stand out that made every trip special.
My son loved his “bug lamp” which would allow him to track scorpions, he used this extensively in the Richtersveld and Witsand. It kept him involved with nature and developed a love for the little creatures.
Then I always took a hammock for him, mine had adjustable straps and proper carabiners which made it easier to use, great for reading a book and the afternoon nap. In its stuff sack, it took up very little space.
Then there is the torch, every kid needs a torch, even if you have to take them to the ablution at night they still use their torch. My son loved his mini Maglite because he could screw the head off and stand it upright to function as a candle at dinner.
Books are important, my son had one particular book that went on every trip and as he got older we also took a very comprehensive wildlife guide for him.
He also became environmentally responsible with the “leave no trace principle.
Then we get to a headlamp, kids love to play after dark around the campsite and a decent headlamp gives them the “hands-free” opportunity. His Petzl lamp had various modes which included a strobe function but was also bright enough for bedtime reading and the strap allowed it to worn or hung in the tent. He also used this for bathtime breaks. And it’s kid-friendly and easy to operate. With its tilt function, it works even if put on upside down
Then never forget toys and a few games, they can entertain the little ones and even the adults, I still have my son’s favourites which gave him immense pleasure and kept him occupied for hours.
Then for our pleasure if we wanted to have a beverage after he was safely settled we had a pair of mugs with lids, they were insulated and kept beverages hot or cold.
The lids eliminated the entry of insects which spoils a drink.
The inevitable that one should never forget as it can spoil and the trip is the swarm of mosquitoes or a tick bite. I always tossed in a bottle of Citronella oil to which I added some Eucalyptus oil. It seemed to do the trick as none of us experienced any problems. On top of that never forget the hats and sunscreen.No sense in getting burnt. The guilt is real if the little ones suffer.
Lastly, explore podcasts and other audible options to keep the little ones entertained. We used to rent “books” on CDs, most new vehicles do not have CD players any more. A good book provides hours of entertainment.