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18 Things I'll Never Camp Without

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Ah, Camping
Bugs, dirt, no cell service... things I typically try to avoid as a rule in my life.

I know, I know. Camping is suppose to be wonderful! A way to experience nature first hand, a way to get down to the bare essentials!

I love Nature as much as the next guy. But, after reveling in Nature's wonders for a day, I want to come back to a spider free bed, hot water shower, and a bathroom with soap in it. Call me high maintenance  I'm content to leave the rest to Bear Grills from Man vs. Wild.

How I Got To Go Camping!
Last weekend we drove up to Sequoia National Park for a family camp out. I love my brothers-in-law and their families. And it was an awesome idea to have the whole family together for the weekend. They should also know that I love them more than I very much dislike camping, and that's sayin' a lot. :)

The sights were gorgeous, and the air was wonderful.

We went to see the General Sherman tree! Just the biggest living thing on earth.

And the campfire times were a lot of fun :)
This is Jason and his bros roasting a family recipe known as "Biscuits on a Stick". 

We had a good time and made some good memories! So I'm determined that this will not be a complaint fest! Instead I'll be keeping it positive, and offer some tips I gleaned on this experience to make camping, or any vacation for that matter, the best experience possible!

Ready, set? 

How to Survive Camping with a 9 Month Old
These are things I've bought with my own money, tried, and love, and would recommend to my own family and friends.

Get the Basics. There's plenty of online checklists for lists of basic camping gear. We used this list from to help us think of anything we might have otherwise forgotten! Like the kitchen sink.

1. Anti bacterial wipes  I used these for everything from "washing" my hands, to tissues, to cleaning my dishes, not to mention diaper changes and Andrew "baths"! I brought 3 packs, so we could have them in different spots around camp for easy access. 

2. Hand Sanitizer I also brought several of these so I could keep them in the car, tent, in a pocket. They're .99 a piece, so I thought, why not stock up? Good thing, cause the bathroom didn't have soap at all. Because of bears maybe?
3. The Shower Cap Trick This isn't my idea, but I'm passing it along cause it worked great! I put my dirty shoes in a plastic cap to keep them off my clothes while packing. genious.
4. Trash bags and Plastic Grocery Bags The large kitchen kind with drawstrings saved us from walking miles back and forth to the camp dumpster all day. And when we packed up to leave, we stuck our dirty tarps and blankets in bags to keep them off the car upholstery. I also brought a bunch of plastic grocery bags for bagging our dirty clothes as we went through them, to keep them separate from the clean ones! Curbly has a clever way to make a plastic bag dispenser here.
5. Sunscreen and Baby Sunscreen like Baby Blanket Faces Sunblock Lotion for BabiesI ended up sharing Andrew's baby sun screen since I forgot mine. It works on adults too! imagine. And no burns for Andrew, even though we were outside in full sun for most of the day.

To be sure Baby doesn't have a reaction, as babies can to new products, test it on a spot on their arm or leg a few days before a trip. Thankfully Andrew was just fine.

6. Off! Insect Repellent I used this religiously and didn't get one bite the whole trip. Bug spray be praised.

7. Burt's Bees Herbal Insect Repellent for Andrew. I'm pretty paranoid about using anything with chemicals on the Munchkin Pants. I love that this spray's "active" ingredients are Lemongrass, Citronella, and Rosemary oils. No bites on him either! Also a good idea to test on Baby a few days in advance to avoid a reaction.
I probably could have used this on me too, but I'm ok with dousing on heavy chemicals as long as they promise to keep bugs the HECK away from me :).

8. Make up removing facial wipes like Neutrogena Makeup Remover Towelettes These wipes made it easy to "wash" my face without a trek to the bathroom.

Is it coincidence that my top 8 have to do with keeping dirt and bugs off me? I don't think so.

9. Old Compact turned into Accessories Container I don't know about you, but I'm tired of losing my bobby pins and earrings on trips! Grr. I was looking around for something small and that would stay closed while traveling. I took an old make up compact, cleaned out the leftover powder, and repurposed it to be my jewelry container. It worked awesome! (awesomely?) And the mirror was so helpful trying to get ready in the tent.
10. Case of Water bottles For drinking of course, but also were life saver for a quick hand or foot wash, mixing baby formula, cooking, and brushing teeth. I planned on me and J using 6 bottles a piece per day, and we ended up having 1/4 of a case left for the ride home.
11. New Toys Thinking about a 7 hour drive both ways, I bought a few things from Target's Dollar Spot to keep Andrew busy. Something new, no matter how cheap or simple, can transform a long journey and make the hours pass quicker!
12. Baby Orajel Teething knows no boundaries, and I did not want to be "that mom" in camp stuck with a crying teether at 2am. And good thing to, because he cut another tooth while we were there!

13. Baby Tylenol Thank goodness Andrew didn't need any, but always good to be prepared just in case.

14. Boudreaux's Butt Paste I don't know what's in this stuff, but no rash stands a chance against it. We've used it on Andrew's patootie since he was born, and my sisters-in-law all swear by it (and they've got 7 kids between them). A diaper bag must at all times.

15. Dirty Diaper bags like the Munchkin Arm and Hammer Diaper Bag Dispenser. I got these for my baby shower and hadn't used them yet (oops).  I was pretty impressed. They are infused with baking soda to keep the stinky diapie smells down, and really helped between treks to the dumpster. The dispenser part was great when fumbling around in a dark tent!

16. Sleep Sack We've used this since Andrew could get himself out of his swaddle. It works so well, he can't kick it off, and it kept him warm all night.

17. Inflatable Kiddie Pool Play Pen I didn't bring one, but definitely wish I had! My sister-in-law told me about this. This is the closest pic I could find on the internet. 
You could put a blanket and toys in the bottom for Baby to play and not get hurt. Plus it's compact when deflated for easy packing. Since Andrew is 9 mo. and a crawler, this would have been a life saver for sure. 

Instead, we did this:

Pretty sure he ingested some gravel there. 

And last but not least-

18. Welcome Mat for the tent. Got to give the Hubby credit for this one. Not so much an attempt to bring a "homey" vibe to the campsite, but it really helped keep the dirt tracking to a minimum, and makes me a happy camper.
(I highlighted it cause it kind of blended in with the ground there)

That's my 18. Anything you would add to the list? Something you never leave home without? Don't be shy! Fire away in a comment, and let's keep the tips rolling. 

I'm glad to be home! Back to indoor plumbing and refrigerators. But I also am genuinely glad we went, and Andrew got his first taste of the great outdoors. May be a while before I get all Suzie Outdoorswoman again though.

 I'll leave you with this video. This is the first time Andrew realized he could play Peek-a-Boo himself! 

That's one wild bear I don't mind at all :)
<3 Alyssa

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