We took a trip on our first camping trip. Though can you call it camping if there’s no tent involved and A/C? Maybe we should call it glamping. But either way, we are counting it. I was a little nervous going in, not knowing what to expect and how we would manage our three kids on our first ever camping experience but we came out having made beautiful memories and we can’t wait to go again.
We’re in the middle of a pandemic. So we’ve been home the past several months. No summer trip to the family reunion. No cheerleading finals at Disney World. But camping is one of those things we hoped we could safely go and do as a family, even during a pandemic.
In the past, way way before we had kids, my husband and I went camping with Snoop. Back then popping up a tent for the three of us wasn’t a big deal. This time around I wanted something to ease into with the kids so a cabin with beds was very appealing to me.
Kampgrounds of America (did you know what’s what KOA stood for?!) is the world’s largest system of public campgrounds with more than 500 locations across the U.S. and Canada. Their campgrounds also have different amenities like playgrounds, pools, and Deluxe Cabins.
We went to the Bastrop/ SE Austin/ Colorado River KOA, which is a campground with plenty of parking for RVs, but there are several cabins available for rent. Which is what we opted for. Weeks leading up to our trip the kids kept saying how excited they were to “go to Bunk’d” which I guess is some show they like to watch where the kids are camping in cabins.
When we rolled up it was just a matter of getting our key and getting settled. We’d reserved our pool times ahead of time (which was another thing our kids were looking forward to since our community pool isn’t open this year). Our kids were excited to sit on the porch swing for a half a second before pouring into our cabin and taking the tour.
We stayed in a Deluxe Cabin that included a full bath and shower, along with A/C, a little kitchen, bunk beds, TVs, even wifi…
Lessons I learned after our first camping trip on how to make the most of your family glamping trip! Here’s a sort of family camping checklist of sorts.
Location Location Location
Pick a site as close or as far as you want from home. One reason we picked the site we did was because it was far enough away that we could experience new parks and things, but close enough that it wasn’t a day-long drive. If anything happened to Snoop and we needed to get home fast, it wasn’t hard to do. We had my sister stay with him during our trip, next time we may bring him along and stay in a dog-friendly cabin.
We loved that the campsite had amenities like a pool and a playground (though the playground wasn’t open because of COVID), and little private campfire spots and grills.
Take advantage of nearby entertainment
Something I really enjoyed was being in an entirely new place where we can try things that might not normally seem worth the drive from home, but over a weekend stay are totally worth it.
Do a search and see what parks and activities are nearby that you can do safely. We were close to a couple of family friendly parks, a drive through animal safari, and a lake.
I didn’t realize that our mini kitchen included a microwave, sink, fridge and dishes. Had we known that before we probably woulda brought a bit more snacks. We weren’t far from a grocery store or takeout, but I think next time we’ll use the grill or fire pit for a more true camping experience. (Real talk we were a little worried about the dry weather + Lee Lee this time for a fire on our site). I think s’mores are a camping rite of passage, as are hotdogs over a fire, amiright?
Even though we had wifi and even TV with a few channels at our disposal, my favorite part of our little getaway was the chance to disconnect and feel disconnected from the world. I brought a book that I started reading in January and set aside, and finally picked it back up over the weekend. I nearly finished it on the trip. Partially reading on the porch swing, and in my cozy cabin bed.
It’s funny how I was surrounded by the exact same four people I’ve been at home with for the last five months, and we were sharing a space much smaller than our house, but being away at a different location gave us just the right dose of change and adventure that we needed.
We didn’t need to hop on a plane and travel across the world, a change of scenery a short drive away was all we needed for a fun escape.
I definitely recommend checking if Kampgrounds of America are in your area if you’re looking for a little escape. I was impressed with their COVID procedures. Each cabin has a 72 hour window after guests leave before new ones arrive. We had the pool to ourselves each day for our own block of time, and we had plenty of space for fun within our own little bubble. And if you’ve never been camping before, you can tell from our experience that it doesn’t matter. Look for the Deluxe Cabins and you’ll be SET!
We can’t wait to return for another escape soon. Now I’m feeling like a pro and I’m already looking at other Kamgrounds of America locations nearby. And this time we will definitely bring the s’mores!