Camping is a great, budget-friendly family holiday option that has numerous benefits for both parents and children. As well as being a brilliant way to escape from reality, it allows kids to connect with nature whilst developing valuable life skills. And what’s more, it’s really good fun!
If you have never camped with young children before it can, quite understandably, feel like quite a daunting experience. We won’t lie — there’s a bit more to a camping holiday than simply packing a bag and heading for the hills, but with the right advice and equipment you can set yourself up for years of enjoyable family adventures.
As with all new experiences, knowing where to start is often the biggest hurdle. With this in mind, here are our top tips for a stress-free family camping trip:
Learn from other families experiences
Talk to friends with children who have camped before to get a realistic view of what to expect, where to go and what to buy. Don’t forget to bring some cute toys for kids, too.
Try before you buy
Try to borrow as much equipment as possible before investing in your own. Most experienced campers will have worked out the best gear to buy, which will help you avoid making unnecessary purchases.
Once you have decided then it is time to find a retailer who understand the needs of campers! A top pick for buying camping equipment is to visit Trail Outdoor-Leisure who offer free delivery on orders over £40 and a hassle-free 30 day returns policy.
Consider the size of your car
Most camping equipment folds down to be pretty neat and compact, but it’ll quickly fill a car boot. Roof boxes can be a good investment for packing lighter belongings such as sleeping bags, rucksacks and telescopic camping chairs.
Don’t scrimp on the big things
You don’t have to go ‘top-end’ with all of your camping equipment but the two things that you won’t regret spending a bit more on are your tent and your sleeping equipment. A decent tent will be sturdy, waterproof and endure many family holidays, while good-quality air mattresses and sleeping bags will ensure you’re as comfortable as possible.
Easy access storage
Plastic storage boxes are incredibly helpful for keeping belongings dry, clean and insect-free. Store food, cooking equipment, toiletries etc. in different boxes to keep everything organised and easily accessible.
An element of civilisation
An electric hook-up can make a big difference to the comfort of your stay. Simply being able to plug in a kettle, electric cool box or portable heater can make camping a lot easier, especially with small children.
Turn your car into an extra room
Fitting a wipe-clean boot liner inside your car boot allows you to transform your boot into an invaluable storage space for muddy footwear, wet-weather gear and play equipment. It’ll also protect the car interior when you lug your bulky camping equipment in and out.
Cooking while camping is really just a simplified version of cooking at home. Pack a stove, BBQ, kettle, frying pan, saucepan, plastic or tin crockery, cutlery, utensils and a chopping board and you’ll be well equipped to cook (almost) anything. Picnics and easy-cook staples like baked beans or pasta help keep cooking simple, while snacks and nibbles are great for in-between meals.
Don’t forget to pack a first-aid kit complete with plasters, bite and burn cream and antiseptic wipes. Sun cream, wet wipes and insect repellent are also camping essentials.
Water on tap
Most campsites have hot running water with shower blocks and toilets. There are also usually pot-washing stations around the site so pack a washing-up bowl and liquid and a water canister for transporting fresh drinking water back to your tent. Or consider puchasing a portable toilet!
Let there be light
Torches and lanterns are essential for lighting the tent at night, not to mention handy for finding your way around the site after dark. Night lights can also be useful for reassuring children at bedtime.
Be weather savvy
Check the weather forecast in advance and be realistic about the predicted conditions – camping in torrential rain or gale force winds is best avoided, especially for your first camping experience. Pack wet-weather gear and lots of lightweight layers — no camping trip is complete without a pair of wellies!
Time to play
Stock up on lots of outdoor game equipment such as balls, skipping ropes, bubbles, Nerf guns, boules etc. Board games, colouring books and playing cards are also worth their weight in gold as they provide essential entertainment if the heavens open.
There is always room for a few home comforts
Finally, remember to pack a few favourite toys and special blankets that will help reassure your little ones in their unfamiliar surroundings.