If you want to plan the perfect family camping trip, then you have nothing to worry about. It is very easy for you to have the time of your life without straying too far from home, and nothing can quite compare to the great outdoors.
My Dad always told me the joy of camping was in the survival, you are constantly focussed on looking after you basic needs, from pitching a tent to washing up, and so bizarrely the most mundane jobs suddenly bring great pleasure. A cup of tea once the tent is up takes on a whole new meaning when camping.
Pick a Great Destination
The first thing that you need to do is pick a destination that you find fun. Sounds obvious of course but campsites vary wildly. Believe it or not, it doesn’t have to be a National Park or even an amazing scenic location. Sometimes all you need is some rocks to climb on, a stream to splash around in or even something fun like a waterfall to play around with. At the end of the day, you really do know your family more than anyone, so you know that if you base your location on their interests then there is no reason why you won’t have a great time.
Once you have your destination, try to figure out if you will need to book a campsite ahead. It’s also good to know if the campsite is going to be crowded over the weekend. If you know that the campsite is going to be packed and that you wouldn’t enjoy this then don’t be afraid to explore a little further afield. Sometimes the most wonderful locations are off the beaten path and they can open up a world of adventure as well. Consider looking into walking trails, or rolling fields in the area and then look for camping spots nearby. That way, you can see everything you want without having to worry about too many people.
You also can never go wrong with Camping and Caravan Club sites, they are super friendly and happy to help, really well managed sites with super clean and warm family friendly wash blocks. We loved the ones we visited on our Scottish Motorhome trip.
For a first family trip it can be a good idea to stay as close to home – we used to love escaping to a site just 15 minutes drive away from the suburbs of Nottingham when our kids were small – it still felt like a huge adventure. You might need to head home in the middle of the night if, for some reason, your trip doesn’t go to plan, but it is more likely to be a quick trip home for forgotten teddies, hot water bottles or something random like swimming costumes or the paddling pool.
If you don’t have a tent right now, then you have nothing to worry about. You can easily rent a rustic cabin or even a yurt if you want. If you want something that is able to offer you a little more comfort and you get the camping bug like we did, then you can look into touring caravans or static caravans for sale.
If you’re new to camping, or don’t have a tent Embers campsites are a great place to start and they can even pitch a tent ready for you! We stayed at Embers Bentley campsite and loved the clean and warm toilet blocks, wood fired pizzas, space for kids to run and roam free and the campfires!
Prepare your Meals
It helps to plan meals and prepare a little ahead of time. You also need to think about what you need to cook at camp as well. This could include some basic kitchen utensils and some bin bags so that you can get rid of your rubbish. BBQing is a fantastic way for you to cook food when you are out camping and there is something so nice about being able to cook your own food out in the open. We always take a little stove with fuel, it’s essential for that morning cuppa and that just got the tent up brew too!
Marinading some food for the first night BBQ in a tuppaware will give your food a tasty kick and make your camping trip extra special. We also love easy to grab snack foods like cheese and crackers, fruit, flapjacks, grapes and olives – great for a picnic lunch or snacks on the go. And a frozen casserole, stew, or chilli out of the freezer can help to keep the cool box chilled and feed and warm you up quickly on your second night.
Being outside definitely makes kids hungrier, so pack snacks, and chocolate is essential for those moments when things go a little pear shaped! Red wine is great because it doesn’t need to be chilled or mixed and feels warming as the sun fades.
The Right Clothes
It helps to pack clothes in layers as much as you can. This can include t shirts, long sleeve shirts, fleeces, raincoats, hiking socks and boots or even wellies. Crocs or jelly shoes are amazingly versatile when camping with kids as you can wash and dry them instantly. Always pack more socks than you think you will need!
We have a camping for festivals packing list, which is full of ideas for every eventuality. I couldn’t believe how many people didn’t have wellies and raincoats at Camp Bestival this year when it rained on the last day, and I was admiring the waterproof trousered family too, because basically, they could do anything! Just a little bit of clever pre planning and you are sorted for every eventuality. I will leave you with ten things we won’t camp without!