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7 Toys To Take On A Camping Trip That Make The Best Of Unplugged Play

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Looking for easy, no-fuss toys to take on a camping trip this summer? I can relate. My family loves to go car camping (that's driving to a campground, sleeping in a tent, with access to bathrooms). In fact, we planned just such a weekend away over this summer vacation: swimming in the lake, canoeing and hiking, eating hot dogs and s'mores... but at some point, the kids will need a distraction all their own. And that's where having a stash of easy-to-pack toys that don't rely on technology come in.

Plenty of parents know what I'm talking about. As the KOA's 2019 North American Camping Report found, there are an estimated 7 million new camping households since 2014. Interest in camping continues to grow each year, especially with millennials who want to get up close and personal with the great outdoors, according to Forbes. And why not? Families can benefit even more from taking camping trips together, as multiple studies have found: The more time you spend with your kids in nature, the better for everybody. New types of experiences like "glamping" and "van life" offer still more vacation alternatives, which are also more affordable compared to far-off getaways.

So it definitely shouldn't break the budget to throw a few more toys on your shopping list. And, speaking of value, just about any of the toys you buy to take on a camping trip can be used again.

1. Learning Resources Pretend & Play Camp Set

This realistic camp set, ideal for ages 3+, is just perfect for your mini camper. Now your little one can "cook" right along side you, as this set is perfect for role playing, sparking imagination and developing language and social skills. The set comes with 9 pieces that feature a realistic battery-powered pretend stove and lantern, canteen, pan, shovel, first-aid kit, pretend watch, and utensil set with compass.

2. Glow sticks

Okay, 100 pieces is a lot of glow sticks, but they can also be used in a variety of ways while you're camping. Glow sticks are fun to play games with, to decorate your arms and neck, and you can place them around your camp site to identify your place and help light up the night as a luminary (they'll stay bright for 8-10 hours). You can choose from an array of colors and color combinations or get the assorted pack. Lumisticks glowsticks are non-toxic, non-flammable, non-radioactive, and can be easily washed off the skin or clothes with ordinary soap if necessary.

3. Mason jar firefly catcher

This toy really takes me back to my childhood. There's just something quintessentially all-American about catching fireflies in the summertime. I love mason jars, so how clever is this firefly lid kit which turns an average mason jar into an awesome firefly catcher. I love that this classic camping activity comes with a net, too. Happy firefly catching, just don't forget to let them go!

4. Walkie Talkies

Walkie talkes are probably my children's favorite camping accessory. Perfect for sending with your child when they're off collecting sticks for a fire or playing "spies", these walkie talkies are portable, light weight and intended for kids aged 3 and up. As they are battery powered, you won't have to worry about the set staying charged.

5. Magna-Tiles

I love magnetic toys (Magna-tiles are our favorite) because the cleanup is just so easy. The perfect choice for a long car ride or a quiet afternoon in the tent during your camping trip. With limited space inside a tent, your child's toys should be simple to pack and clean up.

6. REI Waterproof journal

Alleviate the chance of a meltdown with this waterproof journal from REI. Kids can draw and journal to their heart's content and not have to worry about spills messing up their masterpieces. Bring on the rain! OK, not really.

7. Beamo Flying Disc

I grew up playing with Frisbees, but boy did they hurt if you got hit with that hard plastic disc. Luckily, we've come along way from those days. The Beamo Flying Disc is lightweight and easy to throw in the car when you're packing for your camping trip. Tossing the Beamo is a fun, safe activity for the kids while the adults try to remember how to put together a tent.