Camping with children can be fun for the whole family, as long as you’re fully prepared beforehand. Practice at home first by setting up your tent in the garden and spending the night there together. Get the kids involved by helping to pitch the tent, pumping up sleeping pads or arranging the fairy lights. Just as you would on any holiday, try to stick to your usual routines – take a bedtime story, a portable white noise machine if they usually sleep with one, and don’t let them stay up too late. If you go in with a positive attitude, it will be a trip to remember!
Every family is different, so be sure to do your research and choose campgrounds that have all the necessary amenities to suit your family’s needs. Depending on how experienced you are, you may or may not want access to hot showers, flushing toilets, picnic tables and BBQs and more. The location should also be narrowed down by the types of activities you want to do – is there a lake for water sports or swimming? A playground? Woodland where you can go berry picking? There are a whole host of family-friendly spots across the UK – start by browsing for recommendations by other parents on sites like Mumsnet.
Unless you want your children to rise with the sun come 5am, a blackout tent is essential. You’ll also want to find a tent that’s double-skin, so it will keep you all dry in the inevitable British downpour. Finally, consider sizing up so little ones have enough space to stretch out and fidget without disturbing the rest of the family – simply choose a tent that’s made for one more than the number or people who will actually be sleeping in it and go for one that’s standing-height if possible. If you’re camping with teenagers, pitching them their own tent will help maintain their privacy and sense of independence.
THE SLEEPING BAG:
If you have the space, taking as many cosy covers and liners will make all the difference when it comes to getting a good night’s sleep. From memory foam to inflatable sleeping mats, sleeping bag liners, extra pillows and duvets, there are so many add-ons to consider depending on the climate. Sleeping bag liners are particularly useful as they add an extra layer of warmth on chilly nights, or can be used to sleep in instead of the full sleeping bag when it gets too hot
TOP TIP - Mornings on the campsite tend to be chilly. Before you go to bed, pop tomorrow’s clothes into the bottom of your sleeping bag and they’ll be nice and toasty for the morning.
If you’ve invested in an inflatable sleeping mat as mentioned above, be sure to take a puncture kit or duct tape and a pump. You’ll also want to have a head torch, a whistle (for children to blow if they happen to roam too far), a well-stocked first aid kit, some matches if you’re planning a cosy campfire, a Swiss army knife, a map of the area if you’re planning on exploring, a portable charger for all devices (even better if it’s solar powered!), some washing up liquid, some wet/ dry bags, and always take more than enough toilet roll.
THE FOOD & DRINK:
You can cook pretty much anything on an open flame, so long as it’s wrapped in tin foil – potatoes, fish, veggies, beans and even popcorn! Another option is to take some pre-prepared meals like curries, soups and stews that you can freeze and warm up on a stove kit as needed. This is an easy way to ensure your children still get their favourite home cooked meals, and you’ll get less fuss at the table! You’ll want to make sure the kids have plenty of snacks, they’ll need the extra energy for running wild around the woods. And don’t forget the childrens’ own cups, plates and cutlery if to avoid any tantrums. These creature comforts will help them settle into the new environment more easily.
With tropical climates in the UK becoming more prevalent, a few mosquito bites are somewhat inevitable. Try to avoid applying anything perfumed, like scented soaps. There are anti-repellent products that are suitable for use on children: shop here. Sage is also said to help ward off mosquitoes – simply throw some leaves in your campfire to get the aroma going.
TOP TIP - Put each table leg in a small tray of water. Ants won’t be able to navigate the water, leaving you to enjoy your picnic without the pesky little critters.
If the great outdoors doesn’t prove enough of an adventure for your child, or you’re camping with younger toddlers who you’d like to keep a little more shielded, those big, foam jigsaw puzzle pieces are the perfect surface to lay your sleeping bag on and can cover the whole tent floor, converting it into a play pen in no time. You can then pack space-saving games like puzzles and cards, and a blow-up ball to play catch.
Try to keep each child’s clothing separate from the others’ so you can quickly get organised for the day ahead. Our pack-away rainwear is the perfect space-saving solution to unpredictable showers and our polarfleece pieces will keep little ones snug and warm on chilly evenings and mornings. Children should have lots of layers, so they can easily cool down after lots of running around, and quickly throw on a jumper when they stop for lunch. When it’s hot, remember to take sun protection essentials like kids’ sunglasses and sun hats with UPF protection – shop our collection here.
And once, the camping is complete - reward your children with a special Camping Certificate to show just how proud you are!