In these days of low-budget vacations and staycations, pitching a tent and roasting marshmallows over a real campfire can be a great way for families to experience a little time away from home.
Rest assured that first-time camping doesn't have to cost a lot. Justin Vandenberg, of Coghlan's camping supply, recommends not looking for the pricey equipment when you're first starting out.
An inexpensive tent with a rain fly is better than a three-room tent-mansion. Point your kids in the direction of the bargain sleeping bags rated for the temperature you anticipate sleeping in, rather than the expensive below-zero-rated mummy bags.
The most important, and likely least expensive, item parents should bring on a camping trip? A whistle in case anyone is lost or in trouble. The toughest part of the trip will be teaching kids it's for emergencies only.
To get started camping with your family, read the "First-Time Camping Guide" prepared by Coghlan's. The new guide includes everything from a list of what to consider before buying equipment to staying sane in a tent with young kids.
"This is for someone who has never done any type of camping or been outdoors," says Justin Vandenberg of Coghlan's. "It gives you a lighthearted, easy-to-read format of what you really need to have the first time."
Order the guide for $3.48 at coghlans.com.
Liz DeCarlo is the senior editor at Chicago Parent.
See more of Liz's stories here.