Category Archives: RVing

Pop-Up Camping with 3 Kids: How We Make It Work

It’s been a few years since this post, and since then we’ve grown into avid pop-up campers. Our little 1996 Palomino served us well, but this year we were able to upgrade to a slightly-less-old  2002 Coleman Carmel. We weren’t looking to upgrade to another pop-up (we have our sights set on larger, loftier travel trailers) but an amazingly priced opportunity presented itself so we went for it. Since we were also able to unload our old trailer for a decent price, the whole process ended up costing very little.

Our good old 1996 Palomino

Our good old 1996 Palomino

Carmel

Our new-to-us 2002 Coleman Carmel

Most pop-up campers are designed to sleep up to 6 people, but that would be really crowded. Fortunately, we only have 5. We’ve managed to make camping work for us in our little pop-up while still affording ourselves the luxuries we like to include in our “glamping” experiences.

Sometimes it amazes me that we can all sleep on the same small place and not keep each other up all night. Maybe it’s the fresh air, but our kids usually sleep better when we’re camping than they do at home. Here’s how we do it:

The older two kids:

9yo and 4yo both sleep on the double-sized bed. I was worried they would pick at each other all night or wake each other in the early morning. To avoid conflict, we decided to have them sleep in sleeping bags on top of a comforter. This works well for two reasons: 1) they aren’t sharing bedding so there’s no fighting over blankets and 2) we can have them sleep facing opposite directions so it appears as though they each have their own end. This has worked really well and has elicited no complaints from either of them. We’ve found it’s best to put 4yo to bed first and have 9yo sneak into bed once he’s asleep.

BigBeds

The baby:

1yo is still sleeping in a crib at home, so we need to use the pack-n-play whenever we travel. The only place to put it is on the dinette bed. When 4yo was an infant, we tried putting it in the bunk end but it was far too hard to lift him in and out from that height.  1yo sleeps really well in the pack-n-play as long as we put her to bed before the other two. To keep cool breezes and light to a minimum, we attach blankets to the exposed sides. One day I may make cute curtains for the sides, but if I wait long enough she’ll be sleeping in a bed and I won’t need to.

BabyBed

If the morning is cold or rainy, it takes 30 seconds to lift the pack-n-play onto the older kids’ bed and assemble the dinette for breakfast, puzzles, or a competitive game of UNO.

Dinette

Us:

Our bed is easy. We topped it with a memory foam mattress pad because all camper mattresses were made by the Flinstones.  Then, I simply make the bed like I would anywhere else. We have no complaints.

GrownUpBed

There’s no more work getting our beds ready in the camper than there would be in a tent. Maybe even less, since we don’t have to blow them up first!

We’ve already camped twice this summer and we have another trip planned in a couple weeks. It’s become a wonderful way to make memories with our children.

DSC_0502

Camping for the Non-camper

My parents never took our family camping because my Mom considered camping to be the opposite of a vacation.  After all, you have to pack lots of the things you’d use at home (kitchen supplies, toiletries, linens, clothing, etc.), drive them to the campsite, unpack them, use them, pack them back up to leave, take them home, unpack them, wash them, and re-pack them again for their regular use.  Why go through all that when you can just stay home and not have to pack or unpack anything?  Not to mention, there’s the cooking while not in a kitchen and the sleeping while not in a bedroom.  Millions of people camp all over the country every year, but we were never among them.  As a result, I’ve tended to side with my mother when it comes to opinions on camping.

Jim, on the other hand, has always had romantic notions of camping.  His parents didn’t take him camping either, but he attended many years of church camp where he slept in lean-tos and cooked over an open fire.  He counts those experiences as some of his favorites.  So, it’s no surprise that he’s been eager to take our family camping. I finally agreed to give it a try last summer when we found out that some out-of-town relatives were planning to tent camp at a nearby campground for a few days.  I figured we could join them and try it out. If we didn’t like it we’d only be a few miles from home.

As it turns out, the week we selected was the hottest week of 2012 – 100 humid degrees each day.  We were tent camping and we didn’t even have a fan.  In addition, we were camping during the week, so Jim had to leave each morning to go to work, leaving me with a 5-year-old and a 7-month-old in the sweltering heat all day.  The first night, a thunderstorm so intense that it washed out some local roads rained down upon our little campsite.  Between the rain, the heat, and the loud neighbors I barely got any sleep.  It was not the charming camping experience I had been sold, and I made my own promise not to tent camp again.  A month later, when the opportunity arose, we purchased a cheap, used pop-up camper.Camping

This weekend, we camped again at the same campground and it was a completely different experience.  Despite the unseasonably cold temperatures (low 40s at night), we were cozy and snug in our quiet, heated camper.  All four of us slept soundly in our separate beds that were not on the ground.  We had a refrigerator to keep our food cold and a stove and griddle (for Jim) to cook on.  It was wonderful.

There’s a term for my kind of camping: “glamping” or glamorous camping.  We still get to enjoy all the fun of campfires, hiking, and fishing – not to mention the community aspect one finds at a campground – but we don’t have to sleep on the ground or watch our tent get blown over by the wind.  Besides, it’s not like we’re alone, you know.  Three quarters of the campers in our campground this weekend were in campers larger and cozier than ours.

So, now I’m definitely up for all the “glamping” Jim can throw at me.

(I’m also up for ignoring the mountains of campfire-smelling laundry in my basement).