Most of us have gone camping at some point in our childhoods, and have great memories. But we’re reluctant to give up our comfort and try it with our own. But it needn’t be too rough, the kids will love it and it’ll save you bundles on a family holiday. Follow our guide to get started!
Forget cold, bumpy nights in the mud. Camping is cheap, but invest in a good tent and bedding.
Go for a double ‘skin’ in the sleeping and living areas, so it’s thoroughly waterproof. Some brands, like Quechua, have wind- and rain-tested tents. Watch online demos before buying.
Check the tent’s height so you can stand up for easier dressing. An extra sleeping berth is handy for dumping clothes and clobber.
Test the tent out first, in the garden, in a park, or actually camp for one night near home.
A gazebo is handy for a communal playing/cooking area, if you have one.
Invest in an inflatable mattress and a pump that runs off the car battery. Put beds with feet facing downhill.
Decent sleeping bags are critical for everyone’s happiness!
A cool box, a stove, a barbecue, basic pans, plates and utensils are must-haves. A seating/table item is useful too.
Go to a camping expert like Decathlon that stocks tonnes of camping equipment. They’ll also give advice and demo tents for you.
What to pack
- Slings and back carriers – more practical than buggies.
- Wellies and waterproof sandals – for dusty pitches, showering and wet weather.
- Waterproof macs – plus waterproof trousers if possible.
- A bottle of wine with a screw top lid – to celebrate erecting the tent. Sup while you unpack everything else.
- The potty – if your children are under 10. It beats traipsing out at night.
- Buckets that slot into each other – you can’t bring too many!
- Clothes pegs and string – a godsend for drying towels and clothes. If the weather’s cool, hang inside the car to dry instead.
- Warm clothes in layers – it gets chilly even on a summer’s evening.
- Bin bags – for wet and dirty anything.
- Head torches – for hands-free groping around once it’s dark. Bring spare batteries.
- Bring basics for the first 24 hours if you’ll be stocking up from a supermarket.
- For just a weekend, plan meals in advance.
- Tinned curry is great for the first night.
- To avoid cooking on arrival, order a pizza delivery.
- For first night barbecues, bring pre-seasoned meat.
- Don’t leave without tea, coffee, cereal, bread, butter and milk. Skimmed milk keeps longer.
- Ice-packs – bring double, so half are refreezing in the campsite’s freezer.
Where to camp
- Sites are often rated by stars, like hotels.
- Pick sites with play areas for the kids. Pitch as near to them as possible.
- Decide if you want swimming pools, evening entertainment, onsite shops and diners.
- Some allow real fires with designated pits.
- Pitching near facilities is convenient, but can be noisy.
- It’s radically cheaper than other accommodation.
- The kids play, make friends, climb trees, pick blackberries and look for rabbits. Meanwhile you sup vino and he tends to the barbecue.
- The kids don’t misbehave because they’re free and outdoors.
- Camp by the seaside, forest or town – or move pitches over a fortnight. You can go almost anywhere around the world!