Family camping made easy
My guide to easier family camping trips (even if you end up taking the kitchen sink as well!).
Make a list
Don’t start packing or collecting anything together until you have a list of kit. List items in order of essential to luxury and give each member of the family their own list so you are not doing all the packing yourself.
Essential kit list
Extra camping items
This might include pillows, table and chairs, camping chairs, rechargeable radio/blue tooth speaker, portable power charger and/or solar panel charger (for phones, tablets etc).
Fridge, plastic wine cooler, plastic wine and beer glasses, blow-up camping sofa, larder for food, tent carpet, solar powered shower and chemical toilet.
Pack everything into boxes and carriers that can be easily transported from the house/garage to the car and then to the campsite. If you have a lot of kit you could invest in a small trailer with wheels so it’s easier to transport items.
If you have a new tent make sure you have pitched it at home before you go. Many arguments ensue from pitching tents and you really don’t want to be the family having a row at the campsite.
Small versus large tents
Many families like the idea of a large tent with bedrooms for each family member or for couples and their kids.
An alternative, especially if you have older children, is to take smaller one-man tents for them that can be pitched next to the larger tent. You could think about having one tent as a living area and all the other tents as sleeping pods.
There are many different styles of tent.
Campervans and caravans
Many families chose the more luxurious option of a caravan or campervan for their camping holidays.
Pitched for you
Some campsites have tents, such as yurts, already pitched for you. All you need to do is arrive, unpack a sleeping bag and you’re ready to go.
Sleeping bags and mattresses are sold in a huge price range and of widely varying qualities. Be sensible about what you choose because no one wants to be cold and uncomfortable at night.
Investing in better quality kit will mean you can years of family camping holidays.
A blow-up mattress is more comfortable than a foam sleeping mat, while a camp bed is an even more likely to offer a better night’s sleep.
A wild camping trip is one that is not based on a site. In Scotland, you have the right to wild camp in many outdoors locations so long as you abide by the Scottish Outdoor Access Code.
A wild camping trip is usually more of an adventure and requires a minimalist style of camping. You can get off the beaten track, carrying all your kit in rucksacks, and then set up camp away from other people and places.
See essential kit list above for this style of camping trip.
Pick a site
A campsite might be a better option for families, especially if it’s your first camping holiday. There are many campsites to choose from in the UK, from very simple and back to basics to campsites with all mod-cons, including shower blocks, restaurants, electric hook up, play areas and even laid-on entertainment. Haven have be in touch and informed me about their family camping and touring campsites.
Eat in and out
It’s far cheaper to cook all your own food. Although you need to invest in the right camping cookery products in the long term you’ll find it’s cheaper to cater for yourselves.
To give the family chef a rest, why not plan to cook breakfasts, make pack lunches and eat out in a pub or restaurant every other night? Barbecue meals are also ideal for family camping trips.
Rainy day activities
The UK can be wet, even in the summer, so make sure you have packed a few activities for rainy days. Board games and a pack of cards are useful items to take on a camping trip.
Check on-line, too, to see what there is to do where you are taking a camping holiday. Rainy day trip might include a museum, indoor pay areas, swimming pools and climbing centres.
Embrace the outdoors
Camping is meant to be an enjoyable outdoors experience so make sure you have a few fun outdoor activities lined up. These might include, flying a kite, hiring bikes or riding your own, a day at the beach, walking a local hill, booking a guided activity such as Segways, quad bikes, climbing or canoeing.
Safely stowed away
On your return home, make sure everything is dried out and packed away in its right place. You could make a list of the things you used and the things you really didn’t need. Also add extra items to the list that your bought while you were on your camping holiday.
Make another plan
While you still have great memories of your camping trip, plan to book another one. It’s a good idea to mark the dates on a family calendar so the kids can have something to look forward to.