Ten Tips for Staying in a Cabin with Kids

Ten Tips for Staying in a cabin with kids

If you and your family love the great outdoors you may have thought of camping as a fun family vacation- but what if the idea of sleeping in a tent doesn’t really sounds all that wonderful? A good compromise would be to stay in a cabin! All over the country there are cabin rental companies that have cabins to fit any size family. Staying in a cabin allows a family to be immersed in nature and unplug some, but with some of the comforts of home (think: hot showers and a toilet!). This “happy medium” of sorts can be just what you need for the perfect family vacation- if you do a little preparation first.

Staying in a cabin, away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, can be a great way for a family to unplug and reconnect. Most of our lives are spent rushing from one place to another, much of that time with our faces in a screen and we can often forget how fun it is to just be together. Booking some quality time in a beautiful cabin in the mountains or by a lake, can show your kids how much fun can be had when we turn the TV and tablets off and just let nature entertain us! Staying in a cabin is different than staying in a hotel, though. There are some special circumstances to consider when booking a stay with your kids in order for you to have the best experience as possible. We have come up with ten tips for your family to make your future cabin stay one of your families most loved vacations ever!

Pick a Kid-Friendly Cabin

This goes without saying, but once you have chosen your destination and are browsing cabins, pay careful attention to the amount of bathrooms and bedrooms for your family. Will the kids share a room? Will they all need their own? Are their places to play outside? Perhaps a playground near by? Are their hiking trails or fishing? Think of what your family would be interested in doing and find the cabin that meets those needs.

Bring everything you need- and more!

A major way cabins are different than hotels is the fact that many of them are kind of BYOS (bring your own stuff). Do some research before you go and see what types of things you may need to bring. Do you need to bring your own sheets or towels? What kind of things are in the kitchen? Chances are, you’ll have some basic cooking supplies but here are some other items you may want to consider bringing along:

  • trash bags
  • containers for storing food
  • baggies
  • chip bag clips
  • bug spray
  • dish and hand soaps
  • night lights

Plan your days out, but not too much

Some people like to wing their vacations and live day to day and other people like to plan every moment out. Depending on what kind of planner you are, if you have kids you know that you have to have a plan, at least to a point. Most kids claim they are “bored” after ten minutes, so in order to help prevent that, plan some activities to do with them. Activities like hiking, fishing, animal or bird watching, and nature hikes are all fun things that will get your family outside loving the wilderness and fresh air.

Special Tip: Hiking is a given when you are staying in the wilderness, and many kids like the “idea” of hiking but don’t really have the patience for it. If your kids are like this, like most kids are, try bringing some scavenger hunts to work on while you hike! There are tons online or you can create your own. Try some basic ones for little kids like “find a green leaf”, “find a circle rock” or “find a skinny branch”, or if you have older kids, try printing out some of the local animal footprints and search for those. You can do a collecting scavenger hunt or a checklist kind- or both! The kids will love the interactiveness of the hike and you will love how they are working together and not looking at a screen.

While planning some activities is essential, you want to leave some time to just free explore or for any activities your kids come up with while you are at the cabin. Try asking them: what would you guys like to do next?

Bring easy to cook foods

Most cabins come equipped with a kitchen, which is a plus for most families since you can save money on eating out. Ask ahead what the kitchen comes with and plan your meals accordingly. Family favorites such as homemade hamburgers and grilled hot dogs are an easy choice, and don’t forget plenty of fresh fruits and veggies to snack on. The key is to keep it simple. You don’t want to spend hours cooking when you could be enjoying the time with your family and remember to just bring what you need, so you don’t have to travel with too much stuff back in the car.

Bring outdoor activities

When packing, think of some outdoor things that your kids enjoy and bring them with you. If you are driving, you could bring bikes and scooters (if you had a bike rack) but even just a blow up beach ball, frisbee or some jump ropes can bring some additional fun to you trip. Don’t forget to bring extra bags for your kids to collect some special treasures they find in nature– chances are you will come home with LOTS of those types of goodies!

Bring “unplugged” activities

Escaping the hectic-ness of daily life also involves powering down some of our constant beeps, dings and reminders that we get on all of our screens. If you are planning on having some unplugged time during your cabin stay, be prepared with some other activities to keep everyone busy. Why not try and work on a huge puzzle together as a family? Or play some epic board game battles? Don’t forget to bring plenty of crayons, paper and coloring books as well as some other arts and craft activities. Use nature as well- maybe creating a pine cone family is the perfect way to spend an evening!

Need some new board games to add to your family stash? Check out our posts on Backyard Family Games, Educational Games by Scotchi and the best new Early Board Games to find the perfect new game for your cabin adventure!

Plan for night time

Staying in a new place can bring some uneasiness when it comes to bedtime. To ensure the easiest transition as possible, plan ahead. Does your child sleep with any white noise at bedtime? Bring some! Most cabins by design are much quieter than our own houses and neighborhoods- and this silence can equal awakeness when it comes to kids. Consider bringing a white noise machine, small fan or even just program up come songs on your computer for your kids to listen to so they can fall asleep with ease. Don’t forget a nightlight too, which will make the uneasiness of a big strange bed easier to fall asleep in. If you plan ahead and get the kids to sleep at a decent time, you may even end up with some mom and dad time too!

Debug before you settle in

Yes, bugs are a part of nature, so if you are not a fan, like many of us aren’t– then be sure to do a sweep of showers, tubs, sinks, toilets and corners before you unpack all of your bags. Also, let the waters run in the tubs and sinks for a few minutes, just to be sure there are no hidden critter surprises waiting for your little one before they wash their hands.

Plan for the weather

If you are staying in the woods or mountains, be prepared for temperature changes during your stay. Dress in layers and pack for at least one warmer outfit than you’d think (unless of course you are staying in the winter, because then you will need lots of warm clothes!). When you are out hiking, have at least one grown up bring a backpack with some extra clothes or light jackets for everyone just incase the wind shifts and it gets cooler than you think.

Be prepared for an emergency

Most people don’t think that they may not be able to use their cell phones when they are out but if you staying in an isolated area you may not have any reception- this is fine for staying unplugged, but you will want to know what to do if there is an emergency. Ask your cabin renter how to make a local call and what to do if there was a need for you to call 911. Chances are they will have that information available, but you will want to familiarize yourself with it, just in case.

Staying in a cabin may just be one of your families very favorite vacations! There’s not much better than unplugging and spending some quality time with your family in a beautiful location- and a cabin trip may be just the right amount of “roughing it” for your family.

Have you ever stayed in a cabin with your kids?
What other tips can you add to the list?

Ready to get going on your next cabin or camping adventure? If so, you may be interested in checking out How To Avoid Mosquito Bites Naturally.

Photo Credits: Our Three Peas

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Michelle; full time mama, part time blogger, wife extraordinaire. This busy mama to three “peas” is a lover of all things running, crafting and baking. A New England native and current desert dweller, she is the brains and wit behind the blog Our Three Peas, where she writes about the hilarious reality that is motherhood. She strives to live a green and natural life and swears that most motherhood-related dramas can be solved by having a nice glass of wine at the end of the evening.

Comments (3)

  • Avatar



    Hello Michelle,
    Nice to run across someone that loves “Cabin Time” as much as we do. Thanks for the great article and spreading awareness of the wonderful cabin rental industry. If you ever need some cabin & cottage inspiration, visit our rentwisconsincabins.com website. We have websites for 5 other states too.
    Joe Mogensen


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    Lisa Gortler


    I’ve always dreamed of renting a cabin and having a refreshing vacation in the mountains. Vacationing with kids, however, can be tricky. I loved your tip about unplugging and reconnecting. There’s no better place to connect and just be with your family than in a comfy cabin by a lake!


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    Cameron Bennett


    I like that you mention bringing some form of white noise when camping because cabins are usually quieter than homes and neighborhoods. I’m staying in a cabin with my family this summer and this is a great tip because we live in the city. I’m looking forward to it, and this post will help make it an even better experience for my kids.


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