Camping is one of those things that often looks better on paper than in real life. And the challenges only increase when you throw in kids.Yet a little forward thinking and a little help from our friend the internet can make your next camping trip a breeze.

1. Mesh laundry bags hanging from the tree are a great way to dry your dishes.

Just toss the wet dishes inside, tie it closed, and hang to up to dry.

2. Solar stake lights are a simple way to light up the perimeter of your tent, or shine a path to the bathroom.

You can get them for a couple bucks each at many dollar stores.

3. How many times have you or the kids tripped over tent ropes?

And who was the genius who thought of threading them through pool noodles to make them more visible?

4. Camping takes on a whole new level of unpleasantness when the only roll of toilet paper gets wet or dirty.

Protect this valuable asset in an old CD container with a hole in the top to dispense the paper.
Twitter | @vango

5. Line the tent floor with interlocking foam squares for a more comfortable night’s sleep.

This simple kids’ room accessory can add luxury and color to your home away from home.

6. One of the things you should know about the great outdoors: there’s wind there.

So you’ll need a cake cover to stop the paper plates flying away all the time.

7. You’ll also need some large clothes pegs and weights to keep the tablecloth on the actual table.

Wrap a small stack of coins with pretty string to create simple hanging weights.

8. You can use a shower cap to keep the flies and bugs off the food.

Because bugs in food is another delightful part of camping. Just be sure to use a brand new cap.

9. Instead of taking a carton of eggs you know are just going to smash…

Smash them before you leave home. Measure out individual egg quantities and mark them on the side of a bottle.

10. You can skip some other steps, too. You want to spend your camping trip with the kids, not tied to the camp cooker.

So before you leave, pre-prepare meals in individual bags, like these omelettes. And each can be customized for flavor preferences.
Beyer Beware

11. What you don’t want to take camping with you is overly large stuff, like big blocks of soap.

Cut off small individual chunks instead with a knife or a cheese slicer.

12. Instead of packing the whole tube of toothpaste…

Squeeze out small blobs onto baking paper and sprinkle them with baking soda. Leave for 2-3 days and then place in a small bag.

13. Don’t pack the spice rack or salt and pepper shakers.

Save space by pouring small quantities into empty Tic Tac boxes. You can pack a bunch of these in the same space one of your big shakers would take up.

14. Sometimes in the wild it’s hard to keep matches dry, so use some toothpaste.

Dip the end in toothpaste to protect them from water. When ready to light, wipe the paste off and go!
YouTube | 5-Minute Crafts

15. You can also dip cotton wool in petroleum jelly for instant fire starters.

Store these highly flammable morsels in plastic Ziploc bags, and remember to keep them well away from the clutches of kids.
Digital Trends

16. Cooking can be a real challenge when camping, especially after realizing you’ve left the can opener at home.

But if you’ve got a rock, you can rub the can against it to break the top off.

17. S’mores as an occasional treat for the kids are fine and all, but every night is a bit much.

Inject a hit of healthiness by these making strawberry s’mores instead.

18. Candlelight is all very atmospheric — that is, until you have to keep relighting the candles.

If you have kids, you’re bound to have a packet of relighting birthday candles somewhere. Bring them along!
Twitter | @vango

19. If hiking gives you blisters on the ankles, you need to know this trick.

Rub petroleum jelly on the ankles before you take off for your walk to help prevent blisters before they happen.

20. Now that you’ve seen this, aren’t you just itching to make an acorn whistle?

Besides being fun, this trick is also really useful if you get lost on a hike and need to call for help.
Twitter | @vango

21. Hang a flashlight in an empty jug for cheap and easy camp lighting.

A lot of camp grounds don’t allow open fires anymore, so these are a great alternative for lighting.
Instructables | Ludvicka

22. Make individual coffee servings with coffee filters and dental floss.

Just drop the bag into a mug of hot water and let it steep until the coffee is the strength you’d like.

23. Make a homemade mosquito repellent that also smells great.

A mix of vegetable glycerine, witch hazel, and essential oils sprayed around the perimeter will help keep the bugs from coming close.

24. Bring some canned crescent dough for a fun alternative to s’mores.

Just wrap the dough around a cleaned branch and stick a piece of chocolate in the center so it can get all melty.
Instructables | buckminsterfullerene

25. Repurpose an old laundry detergent jug with a spout to create a hand-washing station.

Just be sure to thoroughly clean out any leftover detergent before filling it with clean water.

26. Easily light your campfire with stray laundry lint.

Stuff used toilet paper rolls with fluff from your lint trap. Just touch with a lighter and toss into the pit to start a fire.

27. Another way to start a fire easily is by packing charcoal in an empty egg carton.

Just light the cardboard, place in the pit, and the charcoal will feed the fire. Foam cartons won’t burn, so make sure you use cardboard.

28. Have emergency duct tape without carrying a bulky roll.

Wrap a few layers of tape around your water bottle so you have some handy for campground repairs whenever you need.

29. Make a homemade calamine lotion for any problem itches.

Be it bug bites, poison ivy or oak, or just a sunburn, you can always count on calamine to soothe it.

30. Make a compact first aid kit with an old pill bottle.

A full kit is always important by the tent, but keep a mini supply handy for hikes by using an empty pill container.
These will help you find the real joy of camping, and what makes the little challenges all worthwhile: getting out into nature and exploring new sights and experiences with kids. Happy camping!(C)