Camping with kids can seem like a daunting experience, but when I got chatting to some of my friends who are seasoned campers, I found out that it doesn’t have to be scary and stressful. With a bit of preparation, a relaxed attitude and the weather gods on your side, camping with kids could quickly become your favourite way to travel. Your children will regard every camping trip as one big adventure and you’ll be able to enjoy nature at its best without having to break the bank.
If you are thinking of taking your kids and you’re still a little nervous about the practicalities and actually braving the wilderness (or nearest camp site), let me put your mind at ease. With these 10 top tips for camping with children, your camping holiday will be a real success:
1. Pack wisely
Packing for any trip can be a bit of a challenge, especially when you’re traveling with kids but there are great resources out there that will help you pack everything you’ll really need for your outdoor adventure. There’s this useful guide on what to pack in your kids camping bag and this fantastic packing list for first time campers from Cerys from Rainy Day Mum. Helen from The Crazy Kitchen is big on packing light, so think quick drying towels and clothes as well as collapsible washing up bowls and kettles while Becky from Family Budgeting always makes sure to pack way more socks than you think you will need, as they get wet, muddy and ick and there is nothing that makes you feel as grumpy as soggy socks. She’s got a point, don’t you think?
2. The early bird wakes up extra early in summer
Liz from Me and My Shadow is a seasoned camper and knows that it gets light very early in summer and noisy with birdsong. She says: ‘If your kids will wear eye masks and ear plugs great, if not, make sure they have plenty to entertain themselves i.e books, games or you’ll be up at 4am too!’
3. Location, location, location
A portable toilet is a godsend for night time wees to save you trudging across the site in the middle of the night, but if you’re not a fan of portaloos, Cass from Frugal Family suggests to try and get a pitch as near to the toilets as possible and taking a torch for night-time toilet runs.
4. Do a test-run
Penny from Being Mrs. C has recently become a fan of camping with kids and recommends doing a test run before you go away properly. She says: ‘We did a night at a campsite just 10 miles or so from where we live. It was long enough to test out all our kit, work out what else we needed and what we didn’t really need, and seeing as it was so close to home we felt comfortable that if it all went really wrong, we could head home in the middle of the night easily enough!’
5. Rules & Etiquette
Strictly speaking all land is owned by someone, so if you fancy a spot of wild camping, it’s a wise idea to check in with the owners and obtain their permission before pitching your tent and starting your campfire. Cerys from Traveled So Far also told me that even on official camp sites, it’s not always allowed to make a fire and roast your marshmallows, so do make sure that you can have one. Camping isn’t camping without a camp fire and really the camp fire is what makes the experience. You get chatting quickly, especially with having kids, and you can guarantee that you will find families sitting around the camp fire late into the night.
A super doper insider tip to keep the peace with neighbouring campers comes from Penny. She tells us that it’s best, if your kids leave their bubbles at home or only blow them far away from the campsite. Why? Apparently bubbles destroy the waterproofing on tents and make for unhappy campers. Who knew?
6. Do it the stress-free way
If you love the idea of camping, but don’t think you can handle the hassle of packing all the kit and putting up the tent (plus packing it all away again!), Helen from Actually Mummy has the perfect idea for you: simply try a ready-made campsite! There are plenty of places where tents are already pitched, with futons or camping mats ready – not full-on glamping, just proper camping, but with everything organised for you. Some even provide all your cooking utensils, proper mugs and glassware, and games for the kids.
7. Save time cooking
If you don’t want to spend hours slaving over the camp fire and believe me, if you’re camping with kids who get hangry (yes, it’s a thing) really quickly, Andrea from All You Need Is Love And Cake knows just what to do: I always take a couple of meals that I’ve previously cooked and frozen, such as spag bol, chilli, Spanish chicken etc, which can be easily heated up on a camping stove for a quick evening meal. They also keep everything else in the cool box colder for longer.
8. Let me entertain you
Camping is the friendliest holiday as everyone on the campsite just starts chatting. Emma from Emma And 3 suggests to take balls and bats for the kids, so they can play rounders and make friends – leaving the adults to crack open the wine and enjoy some adult time.
Also, don’t forget to bring entertainment for rainy days. Board games, colouring books and pens as well as small musical instruments allow your children to get creative while the rain pitter patters against your tent while gadgets such as tablets can keep them entertained with movies and apps.
9. Light up
There’s nothing more frustrating that getting lost on your way back from the toilet in the middle of the night, so the top tip coming from Kirsty and Joy is to pack plenty of lights. Make sure you have a light for inside the tent, especially if you are stuck inside a lot due to rain, and some for the outside area. It will make finding your tent much easier after that loo run.
10. Beware of creepy crawlies and critters
If like me, you’re not keen on critters and creepy crawlies, especially when camping with kids who are into anything and everything, there are a couple of things you can do to keep yourself and your tent safe. Mosquitoes and other insects can easily be kept at bay with mosquito coils, says Helen from Kiddy Charts. Rodents such as mice, rats and raccoons as well as bigger animals like bears or wild boars are usually after your food, so clean up your litter immediately and keep food in air tight boxes.
If you are camping in a country with more dangerous predators such as snakes, scorpions or spiders, please ensure to follow the guidance of local authorities and rangers.
Have you gone camping with your kids? How did you find the experience and what are your top tips for a successful family camping trip?
Image credits: Unsplash (2), Kat Splash and Peaches & Cream via Flickr