Camping can be a wonderfully cheap way to have a family holiday, especially if you’re ok with doing without some mod cons for a few days!
I wouldn’t say I’m a keen camper (I do like my comfy bed!) but I am a regular camping, with years of experience before we had kids and plenty afterwards. Its something we often do several times a year as a family.
As with any trip however camping can be more or less successful based on your level of preparedness! Depending on the age of your children and how ‘wild’ you are going will affect a lot of the planning you need to do!
Picking A Camp Site
What kind of camping trip do you want to go on? Do you want to go glamping where your tent and lots of other equipment is provided for you? Are you camping at a festival or event? Do you fancy wild camping wherever you can pitch your tent? Or are you just going to a small local campsite?
There are a wide range of options covered under the title of ‘camping’!
There is a HUGE range of tents available now. If you want to buy new then go and have a look around in a few if you can so that you can see how the sleeping arrangements might work.
The most common tents are the polyester style tents, which are quick drying, lighter and generally quite easy to put up. The bigger the tent, the more people you will often need! Canvas tents are often a little warmer, but if they get wet they can be a nightmare to dry and are much heavier.
Often second hand tents are easy to come by, or you might have a friend who can lend you one, or some glamping sites obviously provide the tent!
With whatever you choose you can make it as homely as you like and as expensive as you like – you can go all out with a top of the line bell tent with a stove and a wooden raised bed which will be wonderfully snug and warm – but a lot of expense, weight and room taken up!
Do your want to cook on a fire? Then your site needs to allow open fires in some way – all sites are different so do check! Otherwise do you need to bring all your cooking equipment or is there a shared kitchen? Will you eat out? How will you store your food?
If you’re on a large site with a shared kitchen do check the rules about access, especially if there is shared fridge space. And label your food! Be kind to your fellow campers too.
If you are cooking on your own equipment think about a stove, fuel, pans, utensils, crockery and cutlery as well as the actual food you will need. It all takes up space and will need to be stored safely. Some campsites have a shop and most will be within a short drive of a supermarket so you can always go and get supplies.
How old are your children?
The younger your children are the more planning you will need to do!
If you are formula feeding you will need to consider your access to boiling water and sterilisation facilities. If you are at a campsite with lots of communal facilities you might be fine, but if you’re just pitched up on a tiny site in the middle of nowhere you might have limited water access at all! For many people ready made formula might be the right option for a short trip.
If you are breastfeeding then consider your clothing choices. You want it to be easy to feed but remember that you potentially need to stay warm!
If you have children in nappies you need to consider if you have enough supplies if you are far from shops, and how you will be getting rid of dirty nappies too!
Younger children are less able to maintain their own temperature, and when you are outside at night it can be significantly colder than during the day even in summer. You need to make sure you have plenty of layers for little ones to match any weather conditions and that your sleeping arrangements are warm too!
When camping if your bed is on the floor of a tent you will find that it is colder than if you can sleep on a raised surface too – so camp beds, deep air mattresses or putting a foam mat beneath a mattress will all help keep everyone warm.
The tent you have will affect how you can provide sleeping arrangements, but if your children are used to sharing a bed with you then you need to find a way to safely do this in the tent.
Young babies and children are not considered to be safe to sleep on airbeds because of the suffocation risk, so alternatives like camp beds or other mattresses need to be considered. We used to take a travel cot and have that on top of some self inflating mattresses, and now they share a double airbed together!
Make sure that you have decent sleeping bags and plenty of blankets. The drop in temperature can be quite shocking!
Camping can be quite a surreal experience, as it is very different from sleeping at home. It will be lighter later and there will be lots of unusual sounds. Consider making the tent as homey as possible with things like favourite toys and books, take their favourite PJs and consider making bedtime later – if you can hang on til its darker it will probably be easier for everyone!
Entertaining The Kids
Depending on the type of trip you are taking you might find that mostly the kids entertain themselves! Being outside can be wonderful for exploring, climbing, getting muddy and wet and enjoying the world of the British countryside.
However you might want to consider some books or games, and what other places could be nearby – lakes, beaches, attractions and what you want to do!
Camping can be a wonderful adventure! Kids in particular can find it really magical – but be prepared for weather, bugs and cold! If you’ve never camped before then maybe try somewhere close to home first!