Vegan Camping with a Toddler and Neurotic Dog

Vegan Camping with a Toddler and Neurotic Dog // Be Sol-Ful

Beverly Beach {Oregon Coast}

***If you have zero interest in reading about our actual adventure and only care to see what we packed (along with tips), please scroll to the end.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015:

Most parents would opt for backyard camping or close enough to home for their first outing with a three-year old (and a neurotic rescue dog), but not us. Nope. Instead we chose to drive 3.5 hours to the Oregon Coast. Both Josh and I grew up camping with our families and I can’t thank them enough for exposing us at an early age because I truly believe that’s where our love for the outdoors began. So, we had a lot of faith that Willow would enjoy it just as much as us. We also started a little family tradition the year Willow was born…after Labor Day, we spend a couple of days at Beverly Beach. This time, we decided to camp and I have to say, it was the best idea ever.

Preparing and leaving for our trip had a few hiccups. First, Willow had a ROUGH week leading up to Tuesday. A handful of sleep deprived nights, lots of meltdowns, tears from all, patience being tested and pretty much sheer exhaustion. Which is why I failed to make the meals I had hoped to for the trip. So, instead of homemade chili, I bought a refrigerated container, instead of homemade soup, I picked up a carton of low-sodium organic tomato soup (could be worse) and I forgot to pack the chickpea flour to make chickpea “eggs” for breakfast. Oh, well. Life happens, we still ate some pretty fantastic food (which I’ll share below) and everyone was content…almost.

The second hiccup was that Josh had hoped to get out of work at noon the day we were leaving. Instead, he got out a few hours later and we didn’t hit the road until just after 3:30pm – which would have been fine if we didn’t have a good drive ahead of us. Speaking of the drive…I got carsick. Didn’t actually vomit, but got pretty close to it. I forgot about the LONG stretch of winding roads…lots of sharp curves. We pulled over a couple of times, I even drove part of the way hoping that would relieve the nausea.

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Ok, so the final hiccup of that day…when we finally arrived and picked out our site, it was dark! It took me about a half hour to finally get a text delivered to my parents to let them know we arrived safely and then I turned my phone off (no cell service meant we were completely unplugged)! We hadn’t eaten dinner yet and obviously still needed to set up the tent. I think it’s safe to say that we were all a bit hangry and tired, BUT we managed and went to bed happy. Well, almost. The unhappy being in our group was Abbey, our neurotic rescue dog. She completely freaked out when we zipped the tent up for the night. I had her bed set up next to my sleeping bag and she could not get comfortable. She was shaking so bad that I could literally hear her teeth chattering. She was pacing and obviously scared. So, I sat up with her until she calmed down and eventually she found comfort on top of my legs, on my sleeping bag. If it meant she would sleep, I was 100% ok with that! Willow on the other hand, was so tired that first night that she fell asleep almost instantly, without me reading a single page.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015:

I woke up first, to the sound of all the birds and then again to Willow asking to cuddle in my sleeping bag…a typical morning routine at our house (but minus the sleeping bag).

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Nothing better than waking up to this kid every morning!

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As you can see, I didn’t have much room to stretch my legs!

There is something about sleeping surrounded by trees, outside in fresh, clean air that brings about a sense of peace and rejuvenation. We took our time getting out from under the blankets since it was cozy and the air was cool. But we were super excited to start the day! No real agenda, just to walk to the beach and relax. I managed to make granola the night before we left, so our first morning we enjoyed The Vegan 8’s Double Chocolate Molasses Granola with some Kite Hill Vanilla Yogurt. Josh used our percolator for the first time ever and made a semi decent cup of coffee, but we didn’t bring enough ground coffee to make more the next morning.

Vegan Camping with a Toddler and Neurotic Dog // Be Sol-Ful

The Vegan 8’s Double Chocolate Molasses Granola and Kite Hill Vanilla Yogurt.

After breakfast, we got dressed, packed a bag with towels, snacks, water and the camera, then walked to the beach! It was incredibly foggy when we first arrived, but so beautiful. Willow was in heaven with sand between her toes, water to splash in, room to run and rocks to throw.

Vegan Camping with a Toddler and Neurotic Dog // Be Sol-Ful

Vegan Camping with a Toddler and Neurotic Dog // Be Sol-Ful

Vegan Camping with a Toddler and Neurotic Dog // Be Sol-Ful

All the moisture/humidity in the air made Willow’s hair a lot curlier and a good few inches shorter!

Vegan Camping with a Toddler and Neurotic Dog // Be Sol-Ful

Vegan Camping with a Toddler and Neurotic Dog // Be Sol-Ful

Willow was soaked and since it was on the chilly side, we wanted to get her into some dry clothes and also grab lunch so, we walked back to our campsite. Josh cooked up some super simple quesadillas using mini organic corn tortillas and vegan cheese. We also had some crackers and hummus before packing up to head back to the beach. This time we remembered to grab Willow’s buckets and shovel. The fog had burned off for the most part, but the winds picked up so, we cut our visit short after Willow got sand in her eyes.

Vegan Camping with a Toddler and Neurotic Dog // Be Sol-Ful

Vegan Camping with a Toddler and Neurotic Dog // Be Sol-Ful

Vegan Camping with a Toddler and Neurotic Dog // Be Sol-Ful

Vegan Camping with a Toddler and Neurotic Dog // Be Sol-Ful

Vegan Camping with a Toddler and Neurotic Dog // Be Sol-Ful

Willow made me bring this hat and I’m SO glad she did because it was super windy…and not showering for a couple days covered up my messy hair.

Me: “Willow! Can you please take a picture of mama and dada?”

Willow: “Sure, sure!”

Vegan Camping with a Toddler and Neurotic Dog // Be Sol-Ful

I think she got distracted by the ocean! Haha!!

When we got back to the campsite, we just bummed around – Willow did some digging in the dirt and running around while Abbey continued her neurotic ways and didn’t eat for 24 hours. This dog just doesn’t know the meaning of relax! Lots of pacing and any movement on our part made her sit up. Not to mention all the birds and squirrels drove her nuts!

Vegan Camping with a Toddler and Neurotic Dog // Be Sol-Ful

Vegan Camping with a Toddler and Neurotic Dog // Be Sol-Ful

Vegan Camping with a Toddler and Neurotic Dog // Be Sol-Ful

Vegan Camping with a Toddler and Neurotic Dog // Be Sol-Ful

Vegan Camping with a Toddler and Neurotic Dog // Be Sol-Ful

Sipping on some Humm kombucha!

Dinner that evening was:

While I got dinner started, Josh worked on getting the campfire going. FYI, Willow is NOT a fan of fire. Not one bit. We were able to distract her enough during dinner, but as soon as dinner was done, she wanted to hang out in the tent.

Vegan Camping with a Toddler and Neurotic Dog // Be Sol-Ful

Vegan Camping with a Toddler and Neurotic Dog // Be Sol-Ful

This happens every time I ask her to smile for me…cracks me up!

Vegan Camping with a Toddler and Neurotic Dog // Be Sol-Ful

Do you see that Abbey actually has her eyes closed?!?! A rare moment captured on film.

I very rarely drink, but Josh found these pretty fantastic kombucha beers by Unity Vibration. Made with organic ingredients, raw, gluten-free AND vegan. You know my love for kombucha – one sip and I was sold. It’s pretty much kombucha with a bite. We’ve tried the Triple Goddess Raspberry and Triple Goddess Ginger…I’d have to say I prefer the ginger one, but the raspberry was delicious, too! Not gonna lie, they’re expensive, but this was a special occasion. We found them at Whole Foods in the beer department.

Vegan Camping with a Toddler and Neurotic Dog // Be Sol-Ful

Vegan Camping with a Toddler and Neurotic Dog // Be Sol-Ful

Vegan Camping with a Toddler and Neurotic Dog // Be Sol-Ful

Klean Kanteen filled with water (and a Herbivore Clothing sticker); In the bowl – rice, chili, cheeze sauce, guacamole.

Willow and I relaxed in the tent while Josh sat by the fire and finished reading his book. Abbey couldn’t make up her mind what she wanted to do. Sometime after the sun set, Willow asked me to read her a book and passed out not long after. I’m beginning to think we should just live in a tent out in the woods! If you were to ask Willow, I’m sure she’d agree…or maybe she was a fan of the later bedtime.

Vegan Camping with a Toddler and Neurotic Dog // Be Sol-Ful

Thursday, September 10, 2015:

After a second smooth night, we had a quiet breakfast and took our time packing things up. Willow ate her favorite cereal – Love Grown Foods Chocolate Power O’s and also had some apple slices. Josh and I had some granola and a slice of Happy Campers Cravin’ Raisin Cinnamon Spice Bread (got it on sale at Natural Grocers) that we quickly “toasted” using our camping grill.

Vegan Camping with a Toddler and Neurotic Dog // Be Sol-Ful

We made some adjustments packing-wise for the way home because the way to the campsite was incredibly cramped and I didn’t secure the bungee cords very well…which meant things toppled over onto poor Abbey in the very back. So, we set up a cozy area for Abbey on the other side of Willow and loaded the back of the car and front seat with everything else. I can always be found riding next to Willow in the backseat – been doing that since she was born and it works for us…makes for super smooth car rides.

Vegan Camping with a Toddler and Neurotic Dog // Be Sol-Ful

It worked out much better for all of us when we moved Abbey to the backseat next to Willow.

On the way home we had to make a stop in Newport at the Gluten Free Place to pick up a couple of treats. The baker there makes everything soy-free and always has a few vegan options. We grabbed a couple of Almond Joy Scones and some amazing chocolate chip cookies. I failed to take a photo because the camera was packed away and my phone was dead. But trust me, it was delicious! The trip home went fast with one stop to use the bathroom. Back in Bend it was 90 degrees and when I turned my phone on I saw that I had over 200 unread emails….and was reminded of all the projects I had to work on. I quickly sent my parents a text and shut it off. I immediately wanted to go back on vacation where the only responsibility I had was being a mom! Coming back from a vacation, no matter how short, is always hard. But we’re getting back into the swing of things, tackling one load of laundry at a time and slowly chipping away at all the emails.

Tips and what we learned:

For those who haven’t been camping before, or haven’t tackled the adventure yet with a toddler, I thought I’d share our essentials and what helped us! Along with what we will pack for next time. This campsite was at a state park, which meant we had bathrooms with toilets that flushed and running water. So, your essentials list will vary depending on where you camp. Some sites might even have electricity…ours did not. Beverly Beach State Park was clean, decently quiet and was $21/night for tent camping.

What we packed for our Essentials: {For 2 nights}: Our families did a great job stocking us up with some awesome camping equipment for a wedding gift six years ago so, the only thing we had to run out and buy last minute was a lantern. I highly recommend grabbing a big Rubbermaid bin to store the “kitchen” things.

Vegan Camping with a Toddler and Neurotic Dog // Be Sol-Ful

Going clockwise: Large cooler; Coleman Camp Grill; Battery operated lantern, one of our large hydroflasks full of water, percolator; Large Rubbermaid bin with “kitchen” items, such as plates, bowls, cups, pots, pans, paper towels, etc.

Vegan Camping with a Toddler and Neurotic Dog // Be Sol-Ful

Our cooler was filled with apples, kombucha, granola, gluten-free bread, hummus, celery, chili, cheeze sauce, guacamole, unsweetened almond milk, yogurt, tortillas, cheeze and the photo on the right is peanut butter and maple syrup (rather than bringing along entire containers/jars, pack smaller portions with just what you need).

  • A large cooler (we have an awesome 5-day one that kept everything super cold for the duration of our stay)
  • Ice/Ice packs. We froze some water in empty sparkling water bottles and they stayed frozen the entire time, which kept our cooler super cold.
  • Plenty of water (we filled all of our Hydroflasks, Klean Kanteens along with grabbing six large Trader Joe’s bottled waters).
  • A lantern
  • Flashlights/headlamps
  • Spare batteries (for the lantern and Willow’s light up octopus)
  • Pocket knife
  • Matches or a lighter
  • Tent and poles (I joke about this because one year my Dad forgot the tent poles while we were camping…we ended up sleeping in the truck).
  • Ground cover to place between the tent and ground to help with wetness/moisture
  • Sleeping bags
  • Pillows
  • Extra blankets
  • Towels (we packed beach towels, wash cloths and dish towels)
  • Toilet paper (you never know! thankfully they were really great about keeping the bathrooms stocked).
  • Camp stove/propane (you could easily cook directly over the campfire, but since we knew Willow wasn’t a fan of fire, we brought the stove).
  • pots/pans
  • cooking utensils
  • bowls, plates, cups, silverware
  • Small cutting board and knife
  • Paper towels
  • Garbage bags/recycling bags
  • Honest Company baby wipes (came in handy for quick wipe downs at the end of the day)
  • hand soap
  • dish soap (we ended up not using it. Instead we just rinsed, wiped and dried)
  • Plenty of extra clothes…especially for your child!

Food/snacks we brought:

  • Apples
  • Celery sticks
  • Peanut butter
  • maple syrup
  • Homemade granola
  • Unsweetened almond milk
  • Yogurt
  • Hummus
  • Tortillas
  • Chili
  • Tomato Soup
  • Leftover (cooked) rice
  • Veggie burgers
  • Follow your Heart Provolone Slices
  • Love Grown Chocolate Power O’s
  • Silver Hills Chia Bread and Happy Campers Cravin’ Raisin Cinnamon Spice Bread
  • GoMacro bars
  • Gopal’s Power Wraps (curry)
  • Sweet potato crackers
  • Organic raisins
  • Unsweetened banana chips
  • Numi tea bags

How to camp with a toddler:

Simple. Bring a little bit of home with you. For Willow that meant a few favorite bedtime books, blankets, lovies and her light up octopus. I brought some crayons and coloring books, but we didn’t need them at all. Since Willow is a huge fan of being outdoors and we spend a lot of time hiking and exploring, this wasn’t a huge adjustment. Let them have their own flashlight. Kids love feeling like they’re in charge of something. Also, get them their own sleeping bag! For Christmas, Josh’s sister got Willow this awesome sleeping bag with her name sewn on it…she thinks it’s the best thing ever and it made her feel independent, like a big girl. We packed the Ergo because that is Willow’s comfort. She likes to be close to me so, this came in handy walking to and from the beach. Lastly, let them be a kid and get dirty! This is where the plenty of  extra clothes comes into play.

Vegan Camping with a Toddler and Neurotic Dog // Be Sol-Ful

(Left): Willow’s headlamp, Ergo carrier and I reused an empty container of face wash and filled it with non-toxic/vegan hand soap. I actually always bring a travel size container of hand soap when we travel anywhere because I don’t trust soaps in hotels (etc.) especially because it’s usually anti-bacterial soap…not safe for you at all! (Right): A few Willow essentials – dinosaur book, blanket, light up octopus and her favorite lovie (Sandy the turtle).

Camping with a dog:

Every dog is different and from what I’ve learned, not every dog is a camping kinda dog! We brought an extra long leash to attach to the picnic table (or tree) to allow for more “freedom” to walk and roam while also being safe within our sight. You have to adhere to leash laws and in this case, I’m glad we had to have her on leash because I’m 100% positive Abbey would have chased after every single squirrel. Bring their food/water dishes and some treats; we also brought a towel for her in case she needed to be rinsed off. Kind of like camping with a kid, bring a little bit of home with them, too. In this case, we brought her bed…which she didn’t use as she preferred sleeping on me on my sleeping bag. Finally, poop bags and lots of patience!

What we would pack for next time:

You live and learn, right? Well, in this case, we camped and realized a short list of things we’d bring for our next trip. We will invest in some camping/sleeping pads to provide some extra cushion between the sleeping bag and ground – we have an air mattress, but it’s not big enough to hold all three of us comfortably. A hatchet to chop the fire wood (help create some kindling), ropes to secure our camping hammock, calming essential oils, Abbey’s Rescue Remedy (she clearly needed some help calming her anxiety), more ground coffee, we’ll pack our French press for a better cup of coffee (or learn how to properly use the percolator) and definitely invest in a rooftop car carrier to help provide more room inside the car.

If any of you camping pros can provide any other tips or tricks, please share in a comment below!

Thanks for stopping by!

11 thoughts on “Vegan Camping with a Toddler and Neurotic Dog

    • Awww, thank you so much! We really did have a great time and want to go back soon. Willow keeps asking, “Can we go back to the campsite tomorrow?” I think it’s safe to say she loves camping! ❤

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    • Haha!! Not many of my friends like camping – what about staying in a yurt?! We’re planning to do that next month. Thank you so much for reading and commenting – always so supportive! xo ❤

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  1. Was just checking my blogs feed and was so happy to see this pop up because I needed a good read with my cuppa coffee right now 🙂 And a good laugh too — I think I may have burst out laughing at Willow’s awesome photo of mom and dad 😀 Love it.

    We camp a lot as well. Well, actually, we moved into the forest over the last few years because we loved being away from the city so much. Can’t say I regret anything about it — love being out surrounded by nature 360 degrees. The only down side is that it’s not so easy to find awesome kombucha, chocolate, and other fun goodies, etc., unless we make a trip to a big town {which is when I stock up on chocolate, tahini, and anything else I feel like I’ve been missing out on 😉 — perhaps this may explain my chocolate drawer a little better — running out of chocolate would be completely unacceptable haha}, but then the trade off is to make more homemade things — which I don’t mind one bit 🙂

    Camping with a dog is not easy though. We have two rescues as well. One was past abused, is an obsessive hunter, and a major troublemaker and food thief {love her though — she’s just too clever for her own good!} so she requires a lot of management which doesn’t make for a very relaxing trip. They both LOVE being out here {thousands of woodland acres to roam around on, which makes for a lot of things to sniff out 😉 } and are super comfortable being in the wild, but when we take them with us on trips elsewhere they can get a little skiddish and unsettled. They’re getting more relaxed now that they’re in their threes and so hopefully as they mature they’ll ease up even more.

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    • Audrey!!!! A part of me has always wanted to get a little house secluded in the woods and after this getaway, I’d be all for it. I know it would be a big adjustment not having a Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s down the street, but like you said, stock up when you’re in town. Haha! I completely understand the chocolate drawer now…although, I’m starting one despite living super close to accessible chocolate 😉 Your home sounds wonderful!!! I’m a bit jealous.

      And how great that you have two rescue dogs! I wish they could talk sometimes and tell us about their lives before we found them. Goodness, skiddish describes Abbey (our 10yr old rescue dog) perfectly! Thank you SO much for reading this, friend! Hope you’re doing well! ❤

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  2. Aww, I loved reading about your trip! I know my little fur baby would HATE camping… he barely likes going outside to do his business! Haha. And the picture Willow took of you and Josh is just the most precious thing ever! 😉

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    • Thank you so much for taking the time to read this LONG post ❤ Haha! Yeah, I think our fur babies like the comfort of home and inside! Beth!! I had half of a bottle and handed it to Josh to finish…so strong! But SO good!!

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  3. Sounds like you guys had a great trip! I actually read this after I put all 3 kiddos to bed and finally got to my dinner. I am not a camper and neither is my hubby so I like hearing about it through friends that are! Glad you got some relaxation time away!

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  4. Pingback: Tent Camping With Toddlers - TakeMeCamping.org

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