This post is getting super long, so part 1 is an "why", and part 2 will have more of the "how"
My favorite parts of camping:
- being disconnected and truly off. I can't work or feel like I need to work, and the kids don't have their screens. That is PRICELESS.
- speaking of priceless---camping is extremely frugal for a get-away. You pay for the tent site, but its like $50 bucks on average, and then you bring all your own food, and most activities are free.
- ability to be more "free range" than we can be in the city. With older kids, there can be a LOT of freedom. They can just take off and ride their bikes around the loop or walk to the lake or playground or whatever is around. (we have had friends join us with toddlers and it is VERY DIFFERENT. I do not recommend! Wait until age 4 or even 5, I'd say---if you don't have to help them in the bathroom, even better!)
- being outside (duh). I like hiking, biking, swimming in a lake, seeing the stars etc... and you can spend the whole day doing it
- nothing to DO. Yes there are chores, but they are limited. This may be my favorite part, the not having a long list of errands and to-dos. Plenty of time to read, play games, chat, stare at the fire
My least favorite parts:
- bathrooms. Sharing public bathrooms, even when relatively clean, not my fave
- Sleeping. I'm totally comfortable sleeping on the ground, but when its super hot its hard to sleep. And when you are in a campground you will sometimes hear babies crying, or people up too late or too early (there are "quiet hours" but obviously not 100% enforced)
Part 2 will cover planning, gear, packing, and food.