21 Camping Hacks to Make the Most of Your Family Time!

Jun 23, 2021 | Family Time, Travel

Camping trips can be a blast, but maaaan can they be stressful. Whether you're camping in a tent, camper, or your very own backyard, these genius camping hacks will eliminate the stress, giving you more time to do what matters… Make memories!

Family sitting around table at campsite by Fun Cheap or Free.

Family camping trips are a great way to “get away” without breaking the bank or blowing the vacation budget, but they can be a lot of work—especially when you have kids in tow! Whether it's safety, convenience, or entertainment, we've got helpful camping tips for them all. Try out a few of these fun and simple camping hacks and you'll never look at camping the same way again.

*Note: When you click the links in this post, we may receive a commission at no extra cost to you.

There's nothing worse than getting to your campsite and realizing you're unprepared, right? Especially for those mamas who are not… well, outdoorsy! (Hand raising slowly…) You too? Don't worry, we've got you covered. These camping hacks will make even the most reluctant mama happily reach for that tent and sleeping bag every summer!

Now, let's get to the camping tips and get you ready for the campfire tunes!

Camping Hacks with Kids

Extra tent with smiling kids from Fun Cheap or Free.

Check out these camping hacks with kids and spend less time stressing and more time roasting marshmallows and singing campfire songs under the stars!

  • Glow Sticks – Give each kid a glow stick necklace and bracelet when the sun goes down and you'll always know where they are. The kids will have so much fun with them, they won't even realize it's for their safety. Mom win!
  • Sound Machine – There are so many unfamiliar sounds at a campsite that it can be hard for little minds to rest! Turn on a sound machine to drown out the noises and help them (and you!) get a good night's sleep.
  • Bring a Toddler Potty – Middle-of-the-night bathroom emergencies can be a problem, especially with little kids and their unpredictable bladders! Instead of venturing out into the dark woods or trekking to the campsite bathrooms, take along a toddler potty to use instead. Trust us, you WILL thank us later!
  • Baby Wipes Galore – We cannot overstate the importance of bringing baby wipes to the campsite. Let's face it… kids have a knack for getting dirty anyway. But when you combine that with a dirty campsite, let's just say you'll be glad you had them. 😉
  • Extra Tent for Toys – Pack a cheap tent just for toys and activities for the kids. This will help reduce clutter in the sleeping area and give them a safe space to retreat to when they want to play. Bonus: the kids won't have to clean up their toys every night before bed!
  • Doormat Outside the Tent – Dirt inside the tent or camper is inevitable, especially with kids. To help prevent this, put a cheap doormat or rug outside the entrance of the tent for little feet to stomp on before they come in.
  • Pack ‘N Play or Play Yard – If you're camping with a baby or toddler, this camping hack is for you! Set up a Pack ‘N Play or play yard so you have a safe place to put your baby down while camping.

These clever hacks will make camping with kids a breeze!

Dollar Store Camping Hacks to Keep the Kids Entertained

Father and son water gun fighting on camping trip from Fun Cheap or Free.

The dollar store is the BEST place to stock up on camping activities to keep the kids entertained. Big or small, kids of all ages will have a blast with these fun camping hacks!

  • Bubbles – Bubbles are SO cheap and provide hours of entertainment for kids of all ages. Grab some small packs at the dollar store or make your own! Fill an old laundry detergent dispenser with your homemade bubble solution to create a fun filling station.
  • Water GunsWhile this one is guaranteed to provide tons of fun, you will get a little wet… so use this camping hack at your own discretion. 😉
  • Bug Catcher and Magnifying Glass – Encourage your little campers to explore nature with a bug-catching kit!
  • Balls – Dollar stores typically carry balls of all sizes and types for super cheap. Grab a variety and see what games your kids can invent with them!
  • Binoculars – Did someone say birdwatching? Binoculars are another great way to encourage learning and exploration on your camping trip.
  • First-Aid SuppliesBumps and bruises are common on a camping trip. Make your kids feel more at ease with some fun and colorful bandaids for those scratches! Also, toss a kid-sized ouch pack into the cooler juuust in case.
  • Coloring Books and Card Games – Make sure you have a plan for rainy days, too! Stock up on coloring books, crayons, card games, and whatever else you can find at your dollar store. Store them in a small clear plastic tote to keep them organized and easy to find.
  • Glowing Toys and Silly String – Along with their glowing necklaces and bracelets, you can often find even more fun glowing items at the dollar store. Glowing ring toss and glow in the dark silly string are always big hits. You can even put glow sticks into bottles of water and set them up like bowling pins!

These dollar store camping hacks will have you bonding and making life-long family memories in no time. Find even more fun summer activities you can bring to the campsite here!

More Clever Camping Tips

Family and friends gathered around picnic table at campsite from Fun Cheap or Free.

One of the best and worst things about camping is not having all the conveniences of every day life. On one hand, it can help us appreciate each other and what we have, but it can also make things plain hard. Use these clever camping hacks to make life at the campsite a little easier!

  • Pool Noodles to Cover Guy Lines – You know those pesky little strings running from the top of your tent to the ground? The ones you and the kids trip over every. single. time. you camp? Ya… those little devils. Well, trip no more! Cover those bad boys with a pool noodle from the dollar store and never clothesline yourself again! Ouch.
  • Dispensing Water Jug – Pack a few dispensing water jugs to set on a table for things like brushing teeth and washing hands. It's basically like a makeshift sink! If your campsite doesn't allow greywater dumping, put a cheap plastic tote under the nozzle to catch the water.
  • Freeze Jugs of Water – Instead of filling the cooler with ice that eventually melts into a watery mess, freeze jugs or bottles of drinking water and fill the cooler with those instead. When the ice in the jugs melt, you end up with chilled drinking water! Just remember to only fill the jugs 2/3 of the way to leave space for the water to expand.
  • Pack a Handheld Dust Pan and Broom Even with a mat outside the camper or tent, some dirt or crumbs will end up on the floor.
  • DIY Fire Starter – Did you know greasy chips like Doritos make a great fire starter? Use them as kindling and watch the magic happen! You can also make a fire starter by stuffing dryer lint into a toilet paper roll.
  • Milk Jug Lanterns – Save your empty milk jugs and use them to create beautiful lanterns to light up a dark campsite. Simply fill the empty jug with water and toss in a glow stick or two! Set them around the campsite for ambiance and safety.

Family camping trips are where memories are made! Make the memories great with these cheap and easy camping hacks for the whole family. Don't forget to check out our post on make-ahead camping meals to make your camping trip even easier and stress-free.

What are your favorite camping hacks? Share them with us in the comments below!

Image with text that reads "camping hacks" from Fun Cheap or Free

Want more ideas for family fun? Check out these posts!

Now, grab that DIY fire starter and get that bonfire going… those yummy s'mores aren't going to make themselves!


  1. mrsJ

    We spent an extra $15 at a KOA campground store because we didn’t bring along:
    matches, a tablecloth, and those metal things with a handle that you use to roast marshmallows! Bring them.

    My sister recommended that I take along a cutting board and some squash from my garden. I did. That saved me money! I am vegan and it is so hard to find vegan selections of food. Being able to stop and cut up some of my own squash was great!

    We always bring our own cooler of food including water bottles, apples, baby carrots, raisins, chips, bread, pb, jelly, and honey.. Be prepared! Take food along!

    • Fun Cheap or Free

      Great tips!

  2. Jerry Pilcher

    Gratitude for the incredible tips. simply easily overlooked details like this can have a ton of effect on a more joyful and safe family setting up camp outings.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *