Cheap camping holidays could be just the thing for your family if you're on a tight budget this summer.
Here are eight top camping tips to make your adventure go with a swing!
1. Think outside the box
Think outside of the box when it comes to buying the gear. Several supermarkets now sell cheap camping equipment for far less than you’ll typically pay in a specialist outdoor store.
This makes particular sense if you’re only planning to go once or twice: You won’t need the same quality of tent as Everest climbers!
LIDL, ALDI and Tesco Direct are all good places to look when you’re planning cheap camping holidays – as are old favourites eBay and Gumtree.
2. Bag free kit
If you’re lucky, you may even be able to pick up equipment for nothing. Freegle and SnaffleUp are both community freebie sites that help people give stuff away that they no longer need.
3. Travel off-season
Most UK campsites and caravan parks drop their prices substantially outside of high season. So if the weather is good in spring or autumn, make the most of it and pick up a good deal.
Certain specialist discount schemes will help you save even more on low season trips. For example, a CampingCard (€13.95 plus postage) is ideal for cheap camping holidays around Europe, as it will allow you to pay one of three, fixed, lower-than-usual rates for early or late season stays at well over 2,000 campsites all over Europe.
4. Track down your perfect site
Websites like PitchUp.com and UK Campsite.co.uk make it easier to find the location that suits your family’s needs perfectly. You can search for UK campsites using really specific criteria (like ‘sites by the beach’, ‘dogs allowed’ or ‘horse riding nearby’) so you can pinpoint just what you’re after.
UK Campsite’s chat forum is also a great place to pick up tips from true camping enthusiasts.
5. Join the Camping and Caravanning Club
It costs £40 per year for you, your partner and up to four children under 18 to become members of the CampingAndCaravanningClub.co.uk
However, it could prove a worthwhile investment, as there are lots of freebies and offers that come with membership. For example, you get reduced rates at hundreds of high-quality sites, and a book showing you where to find the best campsites.
In addition, members aged over 55 can get 30% off pitch fees in the mid and low season – so consider taking the grandparents along!
6. Become a glamper
If the thought of a cold, uncomfortable tent strikes fear into your heart, consider glamping. This ‘glamorous camping’ typically involves a large, sturdy and pre-erected tent (with electric light), comfy mattresses, and shops or restaurants nearby.
Glamping has become hugely popular in the last couple of years, and means you can have a comfortable stay while the kids still make the most of the outdoors. Take a look at Glamping UK to find out more.
7. Check out the YHA
Some Youth Hostel Association hostels (YHA.org.uk) allow visitors to pitch tents in their grounds. This can be a great mix-and-match, affordable solution, allowing you and your partner to stay in one of the hostel’s family rooms (and use its facilities) while the kids live on the wild side just outside.
8. And if the weather’s not great…
If you can’t afford to book a campsite – or if the weather is awful – why not have a camping holiday in your own home?
Kids tend to have just as much fun in a tent in the garden, particularly if you can organise extras like a little campfire or barbecue.
And if you don’t have a garden… Tent in the living room and carpet picnics, anyone?