Planning a family camping trip need be no more difficult than any other type of holiday; it just needs some forward planning and organisation.
Research the area
Unless you plan on staying on-site for your whole camping trip, check ahead to see what is on offer in the general vicinity. Are there child-friendly pubs nearby for a meal if you don’t want to cook every night? Is there a beach? Indoor facilities if you have bad weather?
Choose your campsite
As obvious as this seems, check that the campsite you are considering is family-friendly! A play area is a good sign that children will be welcome and you may want to consider a slightly wilder site which may have more den-building opportunities – beautifully manicured and landscaped campsites may suit the smaller, older camping party.
Practise putting up your tent
This is especially important if you have a new tent – you don’t want to struggle, particularly if you have arrived at the site late, the light is fading and little ones need to go to bed. Younger members of the party may be restless after the journey and you will probably all want a drink and some food, so the last thing you need is to erect an unfamiliar tent. Pop-up tents are a great solution, with their mechanism allowing them to be erected almost instantly. If you are taking children camping for the first time, it’s also a good idea to have a dummy run in the garden before your holiday – this will give you an idea of how they will react to nighttime under canvas and to sleeping in a tent.
Plan for the weather – good and bad!
In the UK, we are used to the unpredictability of our summer weather, so it’s always best to take wellies and waterproofs, even in August. Create an area, perhaps with a shelter where wet footwear can be left before entering the tent – this will also serve as extra recreational space that can be used in poor weather, so that younger campers can still get fresh air. It will also provide you with somewhere to sit without having to be cooped up in your tent when it rains as well as providing shade in hot weather. Remember your sun cream, hats and glasses, as well as light, comfortable clothing that can be added to with layers in the cooler evenings.
Even in the summer, evenings and nights can be chilly so always have a sleeping bag that will keep you warm – a minimum 2-season bag is recommended but a 3-season is even better. Extra blankets are useful to take with you too and if you do need to use them overnight, pop them under your sleeping bags, rather than over, as heat is lost through the ground.
Practise meal prepping and cooking
It’s a common misconception that you cannot eat well while camping. A portable stove with gas canisters and some basic cooking tools will have you dining like kings but, if you haven’t camped with younger children before, make sure you have a bank of easy recipes to draw upon. Our blog ‘6 easy campfire recipes’, has some great ideas; the recipes need the minimum equipment and are all family-friendly. It’s worth preparing a meal at home for your first night, that can be reheated quickly on arrival. No one wants to wait around after the tent has been pitched and everyone is settled, for a meal to be cooked, so a pre-prepared chilli or pasta dish that can be heated up quickly on a stove will be very welcome.
There may be times where younger members of the family are bored, when waiting for the evening meal for example, or if it has been wet and your plans have been postponed. Having some toys and activities to hand can help and they are great way for bringing the generations together. Travel versions of popular board games won’t take up too much room and for sunnier days or trips to the beach, why not try your hand at kite-flying?
With fewer foreign breaks anticipated for the time-being, a camping trip offers a great family holiday which could leave you with some magical memories that will last a lifetime.