Camping: how long is too long?

We are heading out on our first camping trip as a family of four in just one month.  We’ve booked a cabin halfway to our destination to break up the drive, and we’ve booked our reservations in Yellowstone National Park (camping for four nights).  That’s it.  We have no other reservations anywhere.  Why not (I know, we seem like planners?)Little Dudes Camping with Helmet

Well, here’s the scoop:  we don’t know what camping with two kids is going to be like.  We know how Panda does, because he loves it.  Koala though, we’re not sure.  He’s a light sleeper and has to wear a helmet 23 hours per day.  Those two things put together are making us think hard about this.  Why?  Here are the four things we must consider.

Sleeping – like most kids, ours are complete terrors if they don’t have enough sleep.  With a light sleeper like the Koala, he may not actually get all that he needs where we’re in an open-air campground.  Also, when camping and touring, it’s rare that there is a really stellar nap-ortunity.  Yes, he can sleep in the stroller if we’re doing a long walk, but a hike?  Will he get good sleep in a pack?  I just don’t know.  How many days in a row of wailing and grumpiness are acceptable to deal with?

The HelmeTinyMan in Helmet at Old Man Beacht – Koala must wear a foam helmet 23 hrs per day.  The human body releases a lot of heat through the head.  If we get to Wyoming and Montana and it’s crazy, bonkers hot, it’s not going to be good for him to be roasty-toasty for two weeks straight.  Sure, we’ll do everything to keep him chill and out of the sun, but can we plan that he’ll be…cool with it?

Availability – like I said, we haven’t made reservations for the second part of our camping/road trip because we’re unsure of how it’s all going to play out.  Is it worth it to book all of our stays and activities in advance and then lose our deposits or should we just play it by ear.  Example:  we want to do a paleontologist expedition to a dig site because Panda is really into dinosaurs, but that will require paying in full for three people in advance.  What if we can’t sustain up to our dig-date?

The Schedule – some families function best on a schedule and some just go with the chaos.  We’ve got the kids on a schLittleMan in Camping Canopyedule and it really, truly does allow them to be the awesome little people that they are.  They have set nap and bed times and when followed, they’ve got great attitudes and are ready to conquer the world.  When not on schedule, well, nobody is happy.  Personally, I’m struggling as I think about us straying from the schedule too greatly.  We do it on travel days, but that’s just because you can’t take a 2-3 hour nap in an airport.  I think that I may just have to bite the bullet and see how napping happens.  Who knows, maybe it’ll lead to early early early early bedtimes…

All in all, I’m looking for some feedback on this.  I’ve gotten the talk both ways of “Go with what you know will work” and “kids are resilient, go have fun for as long as you can be gone.”  Thoughts?

Please leave comments below about your experience or what you’d do.

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