Going camping with the family is a wonderful way to spend time together and have an adventure in the great outdoors. Modern life is hectic and a few days in a tent allows you live life at a slower pace and appreciate the things you have. And for not much money too! Well, that’s the theory… but if you don’t plan ahead it can be far from relaxing, with bored children, missing equipment and everyone wishing they were somewhere else.
To make sure you and your family are happy campers, we’ve collated a few hints and tips that will make sure your children have long lasting memories of your family camping trips.
If you haven’t been camping before then the best place to start is camping in your back garden. No cost, easy to travel to and not far to go back home if you’ve forgotten something. Treat it like a camping trip test drive and try to avoid going into the house. Then you’ll get a more realistic experience.
When it comes to camping in the outdoors you have quite a few options depending on the type of experience you want. There are many different styles of campsite that you can visit. Some offer a more back to basics experience with no facilities. Others provide electricity, showers, an on-site shop and children’s play areas. Some will even make you a coffee or bacon sarnie for breakfast. Or if you want a more luxurious trip, then try glamping.
What to consider when choosing the perfect campsite:
A great place to start your search is Cool Camping. They only list the best campsites and you can search and filter based on your preferences.
For the more adventurous types, try wild camping.
With the right equipment you can camp all year round but most people stick to late spring, summer or early autumn. If you do decide to go camping out of season, rates can be a bit lower and the sites will be a lot less crowded, however make sure you pack your thermals and an all-season sleeping bag.
If you do camp in winter, we would strongly recommend going to a campsite that allows campfires.
A few things to consider:
Although camping trips can be very cost effective, there are some upfront costs that you need to consider. If you don’t own any camping gear then for your first trip you could borrow from a friend before buying your own. If you plan on going regularly, it’s worth investing in better quality gear that will last you for a few years.
Choose a tent that can comfortably sleep your family and your bags. You need your clothes and equipment with you and not in your car. And you should be confident that you can put your tent up in the wind and the rain. Always a good idea to try a new tent in the back garden first.
There are a number of different styles of sleeping bag with different shapes, materials and season ratings. Choose a sleeping bag that is suited to the conditions you are sleeping in and one you can easily transport.
Sleeping mat/air bed
If you want a good night’s sleep than you’ll need an air bed or a sleeping mat. They will keep you warm and comfortable by providing a layer between you and the ground. Inflatable air beds are particularly comfy but are bulky and require a pump. Self-inflating mattresses or roll mats take up less room and don’t require additional equipment to blow them up.
Dress to impress. Well not really when you’re camping. You should dress for success – which means the appropriate clothing for sun, wind and rain. Check the weather forecast in advance to make sure you pack the right gear. Being outside all day can mean that you need an extra layer than normal to keep warm.
Don’t forget your gadgets
Away from home you will need a few tools to make life a bit easier. You might need to hammer things, cut things and saw things so take a decent multi tool and pocket knife. And don’t forget your mallet for hammering in the tent pegs, and your tent peg extractor.
Cooking equipment, cutlery and crockery are needed but don’t take them from your kitchen. It’s worth investing in separate equipment for your camping trips. You buy frying pans that fold, bowls that collapse and plenty of other space saving items
The food you take will depend on how you plan to cook. Some people like to cook from scratch on an open fire or BBQ. Others are more at home reheating food they have brought with them. Plan your meals and also plan how you will cook them. And take plenty of snacks - Children burn a lot of calories when they’re outside all day.
To help work out what you do and don’t need to take with you, we’ve put together a tried and tested camping check list for families.
You’ll probably have a rough idea of what you want to do based on the campsite you have chosen and the activities your family enjoys. Keep things flexible as you will always end up not having the time to do it all. And consider a few rainy day activities too.
A few suggestions:
Camping is a lot of fun but it does pay to be prepared and take a few precautions to avoid any accidents.
Hopefully that’s given you a few ideas so get that trip booked!