There’s nothing quite like sleeping under the stars, sitting around a campfire and spending quality time with the family. Camping is a great budget-friendly family vacation option that gives you and your kids the chance to disconnect from the daily routine and reconnect with each other.

While many popular parks around Canada fill up early in the season, there are still a number of options available for planning a last-minute family camping trip. With the right resources, grab-and-go gear and a clear idea of the type of camping trip you’d like to take, a last minute family camping trip can be a fun and enjoyable experience for all.

Here are a few helpful tips for planning a last-minute camping adventure:

Finding a location

There are many options for finding a camping spot, even in mid-July! Here are some resources and ideas for choosing the right location:

Provincial Parks

  • The Parks Canada website is a great place to start. Check the availability of camping spots in provincial parks, get information on fees and see what is recommended for the type of camping experience you’re looking for – from bird watching destinations, RV camp sites or family camping sites.

Private Parks

  • There are a number of sites available for family camping on private parks and campgrounds. If your desired Provincial Park is filled up, try checking out a nearby private camp site as a last-minute alternative destination.

Bark Yard Camping

  • Back Yard camping is perfect for young families trying out camping for the first time or as a practice run for your equipment. It’s a great way to experience the outdoors with a few additional comforts of home.

Choosing the right campsite is a combination of deciding on the experience your family is looking for and researching the amenities each site includes. Most online sites list amenities such as ice machines, showers, or even small cafes. Determine what your family is looking for and discover the option that works best for you.

Grab-and-Go Camping

In the event that a last minute camp site becomes available, it’s best to have a couple items on hand to make packing easy. Below are a couple items for a successful grab-and-go camping trip: 

  • MSR Flex 4 System CooksetThis handy gadget has all the tools you need to cook for a family of four. From pots to plates and mugs – this grab-and-go item has it all!
  • BioLite BaseCamp Grill – Toss this in the car and get camping! This grill runs on the power of sticks, branches and leaves that you can find around the campsite, so no need to worry about chopping firewood. It also stores energy from the fire so you can charge your cameras and devices.
  • Campout! The Ultimate Kids' Guide - This kids’ guide to the outdoors is packed with neat outdoor facts, activities, experiments, and games. Whether you’re planning an overnight in the backyard or a weekend camping in the wilderness, bring this book to get kids interested in the trees, animals, insects, and night sky around them.

Here’s a list of essential camping equipment you’ll want to have for your family camping trip. If you think a last-minute camping trip might be in your summer plans, gather these items in large plastic tubs so that your gear is ready when you are:

Shelter & Sleeping

  • Pillows
  • Sleeping bags
  • Sleeping pads
  • Tarp
  • Tent


Cookware & Kitchen

  • Camp stove/fuel
  • Coffee maker/kettle
  • Cooking utensils
  • Cooler
  • Cutlery
  • Knives/cutting board
  • Leftover containers
  • Plates/cups/bowls

Campsite Cleaning

  • Bio-degradable dish detergent
  • Broom/dustpan
  • Dish pan
  • Dish rags
  • Pot scrubber


Bath & Hygiene

  • Bio-degradable shampoo/soap
  • Footwear for showers
  • Towels





  • Axe/hatchet
  • Blu-tooth speaker
  • Bug spray
  • Bungi cords
  • Camp chairs
  • Candles
  • First-aid kit
  • Flashlights
  • Lanterns
  • Lighter/matches
  • Multi-tool
  • Rope
  • Travel games/cards