Our First Time Camping with Our Grandkids

A middle aged man sitting with his two grandkids on a couch.

When my husband and I began our search for the perfect travel trailer, we had some very specific things in mind—things that weren’t necessarily for our own benefit, but for the benefit of our three grandchildren. Size, storage and a bunk room suddenly became very important considerations. As we walked through the different units, opening drawers and checking out cabinets, we tried to envision our future travels with three little ones running around. Would they have enough space? Would they feel comfortable? Would they all fit? All of our questions were on their behalf.

 We did eventually find our dream trailer and I’ll never forget the first time we finally took our granddaughter Juliet camping. We purchased our Crossroads Sunset Trail Super Lite Travel Trailer one fall and Ohio’s camping season was still in full swing. As I began to plan the trip, I realized my biggest priority was the location—I wanted Juliet to experience my favorite camping destination, Hocking Hills State Park. The campground there has everything we could ever want for a family weekend—a great swimming pool, plenty of places to fish and stellar hiking trails.

Everything had to be just right. The zero gravity chairs were set-up to allow for optimal granddaughter cuddling. The fire pit was secured and the s’mores kit was organized. The trailer was cleaned (and then cleaned again) and stocked with kid-friendly snacks. Anticipation was coursing through me as we waited for Juliet to arrive. The minutes on my watch seemed to slow, as I repeatedly checked the time again and again.

Finally, I heard a soft little knock on the trailer door. Juliet tumbled inside and immediately ran to give her “Pepaw” (my husband) a big hug. She then proceeded to explore every inch of the trailer—and I mean every inch. We thought we had done a good job toddler-proofing but Juliet quickly proved us wrong. I still laugh thinking about my husband following Juliet around the RV, placing electrical tape over everything she could possibly touch. Needless to say, the electrical panel had tape all around the edges and a big X right through the middle.

Electrical tape aside, one of the highlights of the trip was taking Juliet on her first long hike. We bundled her up into her little teddy bear coat and carried her down to Cedar Falls. Every step we took was invigorating and filled me with so much gratitude. I felt thankful to be able to show Juliet so much nature at such a young age. Her little face lit up with delight as she saw the waterfall cascading down into the pool below. I, on the other hand, probably lost 10 pounds carrying her all the way back to the campsite, but it was worth it to see her so happy. (And I have since ordered a baby backpack for these types of hikes.)

Back at the campsite, we got the campfire going and readied ourselves for some s’mores. Everyone in the Gleason family roasts their marshmallows differently—some burn quick, others brown slowly—so we all took turns dipping them into the fire. When it was Juliet’s turn, she wasted no time getting her marshmallow into the flames (with her grandmother’s help, of course) and then loaded with chocolate. Then she proceeded to shove the entire thing into her mouth and readied herself to make another. I can’t say I blame her after a long day of hiking… 

As the evening began to fade, I watched as Juliet—now full of roasted marshmallows and warm chocolate—curled into her fleece blanket and snuggled against her Pepaw, her eyes slowly beginning to close. It was such an overwhelmingly beautiful scene, and I thought to myself: Moments like these, under the stars and among the crisp fall air, can only be made while camping.

Here are our top tips for RVing with kids and grandkids:

  1. Choose and research your destination. Make sure where you choose to go has things to do with the grandkids. Museums, hiking or other kid friendly attractions are a must. I like to go to the local visitor’s bureau website to do some pre-planning. These websites can help you find things to do and fun places to eat. Don’t go without a plan, otherwise you might end up in a fix.

  2. Pick the perfect campground. Take time to find a place that will meet all your grandkids expectations and keep them busy. Playgrounds, game rooms, pools and spacious campsites are important things to consider. Check in advance and confirm the campground is kid friendly. We once checked one out and found that it was 55 and older and did not welcome kids. Who knew?

  3. Plan kid friendly snacks and meals. Grandparents, don’t skimp here. Ask mom and dad what the favorites are and just stick with those food choices. We have a special place where we put the snacks and juice for the kiddos, and they know they can grab from there anytime. As for the meals, keep it simple and I realized quickly that finger foods and toddlers are a perfect match.  

  4. Take games and toys in case of bad weather. Plan ahead for a rainy day because being stuck in a camper with a cranky toddler is not something any of us would want. Play-doh was a real hit and kept her busy for a while. For older grandchildren, have some fun board games or be prepared to teach them one of your favorite card games from when you were a child.

  5. Think through sleeping arrangements and child proof the camper. Don’t make the same mistake we made. Get those outlet covers on in advance and plan how to keep the little fingers out of the electrical panel. One last tip: ALWAYS lock the door once you are inside. Little ones love to escape, and Grammy can only run so fast!  

    Port-a-cribs take up considerable space, so decide where you want to set something like that in advance. If the grandchild is older, you might need to buy a sleeping rail to keep them from rolling out of the bunk bed.

Brandy RVs with a 2019 Crossroads Sunset Trail Travel Trailer.