Going on a family camping trip is a big adventure for everyone involved. The secret to its success will be down to your preparation, so if you need some help, just follow our top tips for a great family camping holiday.
PUT UP YOUR TENT
If it is your first family camping trip of the season or you have just bought a new tent, ensure you put it up first in your garden just to check it over and ensure you know what you are doing. The kids will love you for it and it’s a great build-up to the actual trip.
INSPECT YOUR GEAR
How many of you have lit their stove for the gas to run out after a few minutes? I suspect more than will admit it. Even if you just check the essentials it is better than having to beg and borrow when on your pitch:
Batteries for torches and lamps
Camping gas for stoves
PACK THE CAR BEFOREHAND
Be under no illusion, you will pack more kit than you can actually fit in to your car. To avoid family arguments prior to setting off, pre-pack your gear so you know exactly what can be feasibly carried. If more space is needed then think about using a roof box or get friends and family to take stuff for you.
PLAN YOUR JOURNEY
You would be amazed at how many people rock up to sites after they have closed or in the dark after they have miscalculated the length of time the journey will take. All it takes is a quick check on a route planner (such as online with the AA) to show you the best routes and travel times. If you are going to run the route off a smartphone app then ensure you are able to charge it during the journey as they can be power hungry. The last thing you want is to travel most of the way for your phone to die.
ENTERTAIN THE TROOPS
Most parents probably dread the journey to the campsite, especially if it is more then an hours travel time. Keeping the kids entertained in the back of the car should be one of your top priorities as it sets the tone for the rest of the holiday – as well as removing unnecessary distractions from the driver. However, this doesn’t mean you have to comatose them in front of a screen. There are loads of car games you can play without any equipment that will keep the little darlings happy for ages.
It is very tempting to save room in the car by taking minimal provisions. Most campsites now have a small shop and you are very rarely a short car journey away from a supermarket. But this carries a number of risks. What if you are delayed and arrive after the shops are closed? or setting up your pitch takes longer than expected and the kids are hungry? Our advice would to be take at least a full days meals with you as a backstop.
TAKE SOME BRICKS
Space is at a premium and you want me to take some building materials? Really? Well, the fact is that a lot of campsites do not let you place disposable BBQ’s on the floor due to their potential fire hazard and subsequent scorch marks on the grass. Propping them up on bricks helps to get over this problem. Alternatively, invest in a collapsible metal table or a fire pit/BBQ on legs.
DON'T GET BITTEN
Dusk is the witching hour for biting insects such as mosquitoes. To prevent yourself from becoming a walking buffet you just need to take some simple precautions. For a start, cover up as much of your skin as possible. Ditch the sliders and shorts for socks and trousers; Wear a hoodie to protect your arms, neck and head. If you are able to have a campfire, then group around it as the smoke acts as a deterrent. If not, think about lighting a few citronella based candles or lighting mosquito repellent coils.
NIGHTS CAN BE COLD
Even in the middle of summer, nights can be cold, which is understandable considering your tent is basically a thin sheet of fabric with very little insulation. Instead of taking normal pyjamas, think about substituting them for base layers. They are often lighter but help to regulate your body temperature much more efficiently.
FAMILY CAMPING BACKUP PLANS
Anticipate the unexpected should be your mantra. It could be glorious hot weather one minute, driving rain the next. Spend a little time beforehand researching alternative activities for all eventualities. Even if you run out of time to do this, you can always start your holiday by popping to the local tourist information centre to collect some local ideas.
Camping with the family is a great way to relax for all concerned. Let your kids go ‘feral’ for a few days and they will be as happy as pigs in muck. This doesn’t mean abandoning parental responsibility, just allow the ordinary boundaries of daily home life to be more flexible.