I Want Your Best Road and Camping Trip Advice!

I’m planning on taking my kids on a road trip/camping trip later this summer.

I’m not calling it a vacation, because in my opinion it’s not a vacation if I’m going to be working as hard or even harder than I would be if we were just staying at home.

The trick is that I’m going to have to go it alone, as my husband won’t have any PTO available.  Yes, I know I’m insane. But as my husband said once as we were brainstorming for a family motto, “Sanity is overrated.”

However, this is the first summer of my adult life where I haven’t had to worry about having enough or accruing enough PTO for a trip, so I’ve decided that I need to take advantage of the situation while it lasts — even if that means taking the kids somewhere by myself. It’ll also be nice to get out of the southern Arizona heat for a while.

road trip and camping trip

I have locations in mind, but I’m going to be intentionally vague on that for a while. Maybe Utah, as pictured in the above image — I do think Zion National Park is one of the most beautiful places on Earth. Also, thanks to my now-former fourth-grader and the “Every Kid in a Park” program, we get into all national parks free of charge until September 1. But I haven’t made any decisions yet.

For now, I’m interested in the following:

What’s your best advice when taking kids (toddlers to teenagers) on a long road trip (other than, of course, “Don’t do it!”)?

What’s your best advice when taking kids (toddlers to teenagers) on a camping trip?

What has worked best to keep your kids entertained during long car trips?

What has worked best to keep your kids entertained on camping trips?

What did you regret doing on a long car trip with your kids?

What did you fail to bring that you wish you would have on a camping trip with your kids?

Do you have any favorite recipes for snacks in the car?

What are your favorite camping recipes? (I have a camp stove and a cast-iron dutch oven — I found the latter, brand-new, at Goodwill for forty dollars. It remains one of my finest thrift store scores ever.)

Any other general advice? Please share!

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  • ADG

    My wife and I had camped in Utah and Arizona years ago, before we had children. Zion was very nice, but be careful with the children if you go up any of the trails. Some drop offs can be very hazardous. I think our favorite place on the trip was the Grand Canyon, North Rim.
    Later on, camping with kids was fun, they loved to play outdoors, explore nature and do short level hikes. We decided not to do it much however when they were in diapers. Changing and cleaning in a typical campsite isn’t a lot of fun. Enjoy!

  • Daniel Patrick

    Zion is going to probably be pretty darn hot in the summer. I like Zion but it’s just too hot to camp there this time of the year. You may want to just go for the day and camp about 4K feet higher in Bryce. Bryce has much better climate for summer camping. Capitol Reef has a very nice campground full of trees. It’s a bit warm but the trees do make it more bearable. It may be too late to get reservations but the North Rim of the Grand Canyon is gorgeous in the summer. The campground has very large trees and the temps are nice.
    For entertainment–books, DVDs to play on a portable DVD player, music if your kids are old enough to enjoy it. The littler kids liked Sandra Boynton CDs. Actually, Blue Moo is one we all enjoyed.
    We camped with kids from under a year old to when they completely moved out in their 20s. My kids liked doing the Junior Ranger programs at all of the National Park sites we have visited.
    As for cleaning while camping, my wife liked the fact she only had to do dishes. Drip some food/drink on the ground and you can just kick dirt over it and all is well.
    Enjoy your trip with your children!