Camping with kids can initially sound like a crazy thing to even attempt; I mean, several days spent in the countryside with zero screen time, a bed filled only with air, reduced meal options and potentially questionable facilities – why would you?
Well, it’s cheap and cheerful, for starters, and there are a thousand stunning places to explore in the UK alone. Getting back to nature is proven to help children learn and focus, lots of fresh air means they are more than ready for bed at bedtime, and spending quality time as a family, without the distractions that are abundant at home, provides an excellent opportunity to bond as a unit.
To make the whole camping process run as smoothly as possible, it is important to do like the Scouts and be very well prepared. Here, I have collated a number of essential items as well as a few extras that can make a whole World of difference:
A good night’s sleep, I’m sure we can all agree, is a must for any holiday. After all, nobody wants to deal with cranky children when they’re struggling to stay awake themselves. Camping is, obviously, not going to be quite as comfy as staying in a hotel or being in your own bed at home, but there are ways of making the best of it. Use a ground mat topped with a good quality air bed and finally a sleeping bag and pillows. For children, I would recommend a Snuggle Sac or Grobag. The Snuggle Sac is a warm, cosy sleeping bag with inbuilt pillow case, perfect for camping. The Grobag, suitable from birth to 6 years, are great for keeping little ones safe from suffocation and can even be worn in the car, with space for the seat belt within the material.
Battery-operated night lights or fairy lights are a must for children, as well as torches (head-torches are genuinely amazing for camping!) for those night-time wake ups and toilet trips. Remember to pack any teddies or blankets that help your child to settle at night too, as well as a plastic box to keep them dry when they aren’t being used.
A gas stove is a camping essential alongside extra gas canisters. There are a huge range available but, for a weekend away, something basic is absolutely fine. With a double ring, you would be amazed at what you can actually cook on a camping stove – from beans on toast (yes, you can get a camping toaster) and hot dogs right the way through to full English if you fancy it! You can also pick up a camping kettle (perfect for that early morning caffeine fix) from as little as £6. Don’t forget to pack pots and pans, cooking implements, oil and seasoning, and plastic storage tubs in case you want to cook something up one morning to take out on a picnic that day.
Tinned food (and drinks; hello gin in a tin) are ideal for camping and it is advisable to base as many meals around cans of food as possible. Avoid any perishable food items where possible and freeze milk and drinks before you leave; this will not only extend their own life but they will act as extra ice packs in your all-important cool box. Invest in a sturdy folding table and chairs for mealtimes and pack a couple of picnic blankets for extra dining space. Plastic cutlery, plates, bowls and cups are must-buys too, while a drinks dispenser, like this one from Tesco, would certainly come in handy for the kids to help themselves.
HEALTH AND SAFETY
A first aid kit is an absolute must when camping at all, but particularly with children. Add plenty of liquid paracetamol and ibuprofen, Dioralyte, Bonjela, extra plasters, bite and sting relief sprays, insect repellents and lots of sun cream. Remember to pack sunhats for everyone as there may not be a lot of shade available (particularly if you are camping by the sea or at a festival) and take portable water bottles so you’re never without a drink. It is also advisable to find out the details of the nearest A&E to where you are staying, just in case…
- Toothbrushes and toothpaste
- Dry shampoo
- Hand sanitiser
- Washing up liquid, scourers and a tea towel
- Waterproof table cloth
- Storage boxes to house items overnight to avoid them getting damp
- Towels and shower gel
- Travel board games/books/audio books/MP3 player/pens and paper/other games in case boredom sets in
- Portable power banks to keep mobile phones charged up
- Blankets/shawls in case of cooler weather
- Lots of loo roll…
Have I missed anything out? I would love to hear your “camping with kids” suggestions in the comments.