Potty Training and Camping – 9 Tips for Success

We unexpectedly found ourselves potty training a two year old and camping all in the same weekend (you can read about that here). Really poor planning on our part, right? It turns out it was really, pretty easy and we feel it shouldn’t be a deterrent from getting outside with your kids.

Potty Training

Back when we potty trained with the girl, we took this stance:  we decided to wait. A Really. Long. Time.

We decided we would not potty train her until she was really, really ready. I mean asking to use the big potty. We were lucky to have the luxury of time. Our preschool didn’t require potty trained kiddos and The Missus is a part time stay at home mom so we didn’t have day care issues. It worked really well for The Girl and we did not feel like we had any major day time potty battles with this approach. She was ready to potty train one month before her third birthday and it took about a week of timed bathroom breaks (every 30 minutes), lots of undie changes, and some patience from The Missus. Nighttime potty training was a different story.  That didn’t really happen until she was almost four.

We decided to take the same approach with The Boy. And low and behold, about three weeks before his third birthday he decided he was ready. Of course this was right when The Missus went back to teaching after summer break, right when we were breaking in a new babysitter, and right before a camping trip. The Missus thought that she would hold off until we got back from camping. The Boy had other ideas. As soon as he saw his big boy underwear he was not having anything to do with a diaper. So camping and potty training was going to happen. Period.

Here is what we found to be most helpful for camping with a potty training two year old.

Nine Tips for Potty Training While Camping

1. Bring your own potty.  We found that clean up was easy. The Boy did not want to always use the big potty. When that was the case, we would sit him on his training potty. And yes – this sometimes happened in the middle of the campsite. When we was done, The Missus would dump the waste in a diaper and clean the potty with Clorox. It kept everything contained and cut down on the gross factor.

2. Bring a lot of spare clothes and undies. This includes socks and a few extra pairs of shoes.

3. Have baby wipe, hand sanitizer, and Clorox wipes on hand.
The Clorox wipes are to clean and sterilize the training potty.

4. Don’t try to nighttime potty train. Who wants to deal with wet sleeping bags?

5. Plan lots of potty breaks.  We would not leave camp until The Boy went potty. We tried to be patient and give him time to sit on his potty. Letting him go before we left helped cut down on accidents.  We asked him to go and encouraged him to try with lots of positive language.

8.  Offer incentives.  We don’t offer treats for going pee in the potty.  Just lots of praise.  We do like to give a treat for bigger business, because this often requires more patience by both the parent and child.  Plus, this skill is sometimes harder for kids to grasp.  When They Boy went poo in the potty we rewarded him (and The Girl because that’s how it goes around here) with a gummy worm.

7.  Diapers in the car.  For longer car rides we did opt for the diaper.  There is nothing worse than trying to clean a car seat when you are on the road.  We encouraged bathroom breaks and told The Boy it was just for the car ride.  As soon as we got to our destination, the big boy undies could go back on.

8.  Bring a few plastic bags.  Just in case there is an accident, you will want a way to store it without smelling up the car and camp.

9. Be patient. I know this can be difficult with schedules and agendas, but camping should be fun and it really is a way for us to slow life down a bit.  Take your time with your potty training child.  If you don’t get to everything you wanted to on this trip, don’t fret.  It is a perfect reason to start planning your return visit.


Westy in the Redwoods – Richardson’s Grove State Park

The Missus was back to work this week after an amazing summer off. She was cursing herself Friday night. Why, oh why did she plan a camping trip a week into the new school year? After an awesome weekend with the kids in the redwoods, she would totally do it again. Living the dream. Right?

Coastal Redwoods

We loved Richardson’s Grove State Park. It was super kid friendly. The Girl was a big fan if the flush toilets. It has been awhile since we didn’t camp with pit toilets. We hiked 1.6 miles with the kids Saturday morning. Awesome EdVentures hike. Fun little clues for the kids to follow. They had to answer a trivia question to earn a patch from the park ranger. So much fun.

EdVentures Quest

EdVentures Badge

We all napped in The Westy that afternoon. After a long week, it was needed. Great swimming hole on the Eel River. The Missus forgot swimsuits. That didn’t stop the kids from getting wet.


While the Missus cooked dinner, the kids made friends with a little boy camped next to us. Loved how well they played together. All of us loved that it kept the kids entertained. The Mister was not excited to hear we were having chili for dinner. Umm, can you say easy meal planning on a busy week. Turned out to be really good and The Mister said he would totally eat it again.

Cowboy Chili


We walked the interpretive trail with the kids on Sunday morning. Tossed a few rocks into the river and ate whatever food we had left for lunch. And yes – we enjoyed our camping Coke, too.

Interpretative Trail

Eel River

Rock Throw

We stopped and Confusion Hill on the way home. The kids had fun and The Boy dug the train ride.

Confusion Hill

Did we mention we decided to potty train him this week. On top of The Missus being back to work. On top of using a new babysitter. On top of going camping. Not our best in the way of planning. It went well though. Potty training and camping. Who knew?

Potty Training

Have you ever potty trained while camping?

A Rock and A Noodle

We had our annual camping trip to The Mountains with The Girl’s friends from play group. It’s our third year doing this. The kids have been friends since they were one. Now everyone has a sibling. It makes for a great weekend. Eight adults. Four two year olds. Four five year olds.  Lots of good times.

Friend Picture

The kids play hard.  We joke that toys really aren’t required.


Not when they have a rock and a pool noodle. Hours of entertainment.

Hours were spent acting like kangaroos.

Hours were spent acting like kangaroos.

The ladies enjoy catching up. Now that the kids are getting ready for school, it is hard to get together like we used to.  Sometimes our catching up leads to an early morning pick me up and some Tylenol.

Morning Pick Me Up

The guys do guy things. Drink beer. Grill meat. Stuff like that.


All in all, it makes for a pretty awesome weekend.


Do you have an annual camping get together with friends?