10 Tips for Teenage Camping That Every Parent Should Know
Posted: July 05, 2023
Categories: Travel & Lifestyle
Lippert Scouts Emily and Kyle Boreing, also known as Another Amazing Adventure, have learned a lot about camping with teens throughout their part-time travels around the U.S. with their three sons. In this post, the couple details their top 10 tips for teenage camping that every parent should be aware of.
10 Tips for Teenage Camping That Every Parent Should Know
By Kyle & Emily Boreing of Another Amazing Adventure
When you see families like ours who do extensive RV travel, you often see it through the lens of social media — carefully edited YouTube videos, Instagram reels and specific photos that get the point across of how much we enjoy this lifestyle.
Allow us to give you a little peek behind the curtain, so to speak. Each family has its own set of struggles, and no two families face exactly the same situation.
Case in point: our family of five includes three teenage boys. Sure, one of them is still “only” 12, but when they are easily the same size, smell and attitude as the others, we pretty much have three teenage boys traveling with us. And let me tell you, what you may see from us online is only a small portion of what we actually experience!
Teen years, in general, are often rough patches by default. Our fun little boys are becoming young men and trying to find their own identity. This is hard with just one. Multiply that by three, often in confined quarters, and it can make life quite interesting!
That doesn’t mean it’s all doom and gloom. In fact, we wouldn’t have it any other way. Our sons get to experience things we never got to at their age, and by traveling, they will be exposed to all kinds of opportunities and great times that they may not otherwise receive by simply living in a stationary home and attending the same school for 12 years.
Still, it is a bit of a balancing act. For every “This is so cool!”, there is usually a “Can’t I just stay here?” For every “Let’s go do something!”, we will often get a “Leave me alone!” We’ve learned that you really just have to roll with the punches. It will never be 100% perfect, but then again, what ever is?
That also doesn’t mean we haven’t picked up a few tricks along the way to make this lifestyle a little easier, not just for the boys but for Mom and Dad as well! Here are a few pieces of advice we would give for anyone who is thinking about (or may already be) traveling with teenagers, especially of the male variety.
1. Bring A Tent
When our boys were younger, we started out tent camping, usually pitching two to three tents on a camping site. As our travel rigs grew, the tent stayed with us, allowing our older son not just some room but also some privacy. Even now, although we have enough room in our Wolf Pup to accommodate everybody, our older son still prefers to set up a tent next to us with an air mattress. He only comes inside if the temperature gets too extreme or if rainy days become an issue.
It may not seem like much, but when there is one less person to work around, especially in a smaller rig, it can make a world of difference. It also allows them a bit of freedom, which, for a teenager, goes a long way!
2. Invest in Headphones
Screen time is a hot topic today, especially among teens. We are no different. Having our kids constantly focused on an electronic device (or worse, complaining when that device’s battery is dead) can be a bit of a downer when you are trying to have family experiences during a camping adventure.
That being said, when it comes to travel days and sitting in a vehicle for a few hours, being able to keep yourself occupied is essential. Since all three of our kids have iPhones, we invested in AirPods for everyone, and let me tell you, it has made a HUGE difference in the amount of peace while going down the road! Each person can watch or listen to what they want without infringing on what someone else is doing. And since they’re in the car, they can each plug in their phones, so they don’t kill their batteries while watching.
(Mom and dad can also turn up their music on the radio without hearing complaints about how old the music is…)
3. Plan Individual Trips
In the fall of 2022, we made plans to attend the Lippert Getaway in Georgia. Since two of our kids were already active in other events that same week, we decided to make it an individual camping trip for our one son, who happened to turn 13 that very week. He got several days of undivided attention from mom and dad.
As much as our sons get lumped together as “the boys,” they are still very much individuals with very distinct personalities. Allowing us, as parents, to experience those personalities and spend some true quality time with each one without interruption is vital to building them up as young adults so that they grow to accept themselves for who they are as individuals, not as part of a group.
It’s also cheaper…which brings us to our next teenage camping tip!
4. FOOD! FOOD! FOOD!
A teenager’s stomach is a bottomless pit. Even if their tastes and preferences are limited, they can still put away an insane amount of food with every meal and snack.
When we began preparing our rig for traveling, one of the first things we did was hit the grocery store and stock up on non-perishable food items — canned pasta and soup, cereal packs, Slim Jims, Pringles, etc. — just to try to stay ahead of their appetites. This is on top of the regular meals that we cook, which we usually pick up fresh just before leaving.
And yes, we do make fast food stops, especially on travel days, but once we are set up and camping, it’s usually easier (and less expensive) to have some easy-to-make options on hand. Even if you’re boondocking, so long as you have a campfire and a cast-iron pot or pan, you can still make SpaghettiOs with little trouble!
5. Stay on Top of Hygiene
Let’s be blunt — teenagers stink! There’s just no way around that fact. As such, we have a fully stocked hygiene collection in our rig that includes soap, shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste and toothbrushes. We also keep body wipes on hand for boondocking situations.
Not only do we keep these items on hand, but we have them in multiple sets — one set for the RV and a second, more portable set that they can easily grab and take to the shower house. Even when we have full hookups, the boys often prefer to use the shower house, mainly because they aren’t limited by how long of a shower they can take. It also means less mess in the RV!
Some of you may be saying, “Well, yeah, we keep all of those items with us anyway!” True, but there’s another piece to this particular puzzle — making sure they USE IT!!! There’s nothing more alarming than being several days into a trip and seeing a stick of deodorant with the seal still intact.
6. Have an Emergency Plan (and Be Flexible!)
Things happen. Plans go awry. Being able to handle those unexpected situations is essential to traveling in general. It’s imperative when traveling with teenagers. Especially accident-prone teenagers who perform a lot of outdoor activities.
Our youngest was walking along a creek recently when he tripped and sliced a finger open. He ultimately needed not only stitches but surgery to correct a damaged tendon. Knowing where the nearest ER was located was an invaluable piece of knowledge, as was being able to adapt our plans accordingly.
We also have a well-stocked first aid kit for reasons like this. And it’s not always our kids, either — Kyle stabbed his hand by accident while cutting a zip tie at a campsite, and the nearest ER or Urgent Care was a good 30 minutes away. Since his wound wasn’t TOO terribly bad (his words), he was able to patch it up with bandages and ointment in our kit.
7. Keep Them Involved in Planning
One of Emily’s gifts is being able to plan out entire trips from door to door. She is truly amazing (and very detailed) in her itineraries, so we don’t miss out on something we really want to do. She is also very intentional about allowing each of our boys an opportunity to be included in the planning. Each person gets a say in where they want to visit and what they may want to do.
Sometimes, we as parents get so caught up in ensuring that our kids have the opportunity to see and do everything that we may not think about whether they even WANT to. I mean, let’s be honest — how many teenagers love everything that Mom and Dad do? Allowing them the freedom to choose what they want to do (or don’t want to do) can go a long way toward a happy trip.
And sometimes, they may just want to stay back.
8. Let Them Decide
Another struggle as parents is knowing when to let your children make their own decisions. We instinctively want to protect them, and we also don’t want them to miss out on anything. But part of growing up is learning what decisions to make, and the only way to accomplish that is to allow them to make those decisions themselves.
And there are times where one of our boys may say, “I really don’t feel like doing that today.” Does it disappoint us? Sometimes, especially if we did a lot of planning or planned specific activities for teenagers, but is it really going to be worth it to force them to do something they don’t want to do?
Now, granted, there are instances where an “executive decision” needs to be made, but for instances where they can legitimately have a choice, it’s usually best to let them decide and be at peace with their decision (you and them!). If they miss out on something, that’s the consequence of their decision, and it becomes a learning opportunity.
9. Listen to Them
It may not even be a decision so much as just lending an ear. Be willing to listen to your teens — not so you can lecture, but so you can understand them.
Teenagers are notorious for wanting to talk to anyone on the planet but mom and dad, so when your kids come to you, be thankful, be attentive, and most of all, be receptive. These are not your little kids who are telling you about a game they played at recess; these are young adults who are experiencing adult situations for the first time in their lives, and they will need guidance and support.
This will undoubtedly be awkward at times, but it will also go a LONG way toward building a lasting relationship with your child as they grow up.
10. Set Rules / Boundaries
While we want to allow our teens room to grow, we also understand the importance of healthy boundaries. Sure, we listen, we allow them to decide (to a degree), and we respect their opinions and views, but at the end of the day, they are still our responsibility, and there still needs to be structure in place.
As they grow older, these rules become more and more relaxed. We don’t demand that our soon-to-be driver stay where we can see him at all times, but we do have limits on how far he can go and when we expect him to return. This is not just for our own peace of mind but also for his safety, as we may often be in a new place with which he is unfamiliar, so being able to keep tabs on him is essential. Giving them each a smart watch with GPS is also not a bad idea, either!
Thanks for Reading!
These are just some of the things we have learned as we travel with three young men. There are plenty more that we have experienced, but this is a blog post, not a comprehensive book, so we’ll stop here for now. Hopefully, this will give you some helpful hints and tips as you travel with your family.
And if you see our boys on the road, be sure to say hello! Maybe you have some teenagers yourself who are looking for new friends...