10 tips for camping with the family

With staycations and UK holidays on the cards for many this year, it is fantastic to see so many more families taking up camping.

We are definitely no camping experts, but would like to share some of our top tips for family camping that we have learned over the years.

Fun camping with the family at Brook Meadow
Fun camping with the family at Brook Meadow

1. Use a packing checklist

Although many campsites have basic shops, there are some essentials that you don’t want to forget. You also want to make things as simple as possible for you, so having a checklist takes out the stress!

Check out our family camping checklist to get you started!

Clothing is just as essential – check out our cosy clothing for outdoor adventures for more ideas.

Being prepared and organised can help make your trip less stressful and more fun!

2. Bring backups

You can never be too prepared – overpacking is never a bad thing!

Spare batteries, blankets, shoes, socks, spare clothes – if things get wet, you don’t want grumpy kids on your hands.

Morning views at Brook Meadow - just make sure you're prepared for everything so you can relax too!
Morning views at Brook Meadow – just make sure you’re prepared for everything so you can relax too!

3. Stay warm and keep dry

In addition to the point above, do whatever you can to keep warm! Bring plenty of blankets, a hot water bottle and spare warm clothes. The temperature can drop quickly at night, even on the sunniest of days, so be prepared.

On that note, try and keep dry too! Clothes and shoes don’t dry quickly in tents, so making sure you’re as dry as possible can really make a difference on a camping weekend.

We can't get enough of our Kelty Bestie Blanket from Little Trekkers
We can’t get enough of our Kelty Bestie Blanket from Little Trekkers

4. Go with the flow

Plans don’t always go smoothly on camping trips. Maybe the weather has changed or the kids would rather play on the campsite than head out for the day – that’s fine 🙂 remember, sometimes it is the unplanned days that are the most fun.

Campfires are a great addition - just check your campsite allows campfires before you set one up!
Campfires are a great addition – just check your campsite allows campfires before you set one up!

5. Pack screen-free travel activities

We have a camping toy box – one filled with outdoor toys and one with indoor toys. Lily loves bonding with other kids on campsites, so a few activities like footballs can help just that.

Having activities like scavenger hunts and nature trails on hand are a great way to connect with the outdoors. Click here for our favourite campsite activities blog!

Learning Resources UK Scavenger hunt with her Bugnoculars to collect nature's treasure
Learning Resources UK Scavenger hunt with her Bugnoculars to collect nature’s treasure

The indoor activity box is packed with colouring, books, and screen-free activities, so if the weather is really bad or Lily gets woken early, then there is plenty of cosy fun to be had in the tent.

Screen-free activities are great as a distraction, for quiet time and for rainy days too!

6. Stay safe & set boundaries

The important thing is to stay safe. Campsites have a whole new variety of hazards, from tent pegs and campfires to nature hazards such as lakes and trees.

The beauty of camping is seeing kids enjoying themselves on campsites, running around with new friends, climbing trees and exploring nature, but remember to set those boundaries and keep an eye on them as you never know what dangers are about.

While we’re onto safety, don’t forget to pack your first aid kit, suncream and insect repellent!

Campsites are a great place to explore nature and hang out in the trees too!
Campsites are a great place to explore nature and hang out in the trees too!

7. Research & be prepared

Lily and I often go camping together solo, so I do all kinds of research before we go. It also helps when plans change on the site, so I know what is local, where to get food, the layout of the campsite, and what to do in an emergency.

I always contact the campsite before we visit, read reviews, and find out any key information – it puts my mind at ease and I make sure that it is the right kind of campsite for us.

Be prepared and you'll be able to feel more relaxed too
Be prepared and you’ll be able to feel more relaxed too

Find out the campsite rules before you go – that will help with boundaries as well as your own knowledge, such as if they allow campfires, have electric hookup, toilets etc. Make sure they’re family-friendly when you book too!

Camping solo with a small child is fun, but also being alone has its own challenges, such as making sure Lily is kept entertained while I’m putting the tent up/down (she is in charge of pegs!), locking everything up when she needs a wee, and making sure we are within an hour or so of home in case of an emergency.

Camping with children is such a fun experience
Camping with children is such a fun experience

While you’re at it, I’d prepare by setting up your tent at home if you can before you go – you don’t want to be reading instructions under torchlight or in a storm to be working out poles or discovering something is missing!

8. Plan your food

By planning your meals, it can help with money, help you be a bit more eco-friendly (less single use packaging!), and mean you’re not going to be going hungry if the weather turns for the worst!

We love these tips from Bundle Beds

We have cooking-free backups in case the camping stove doesn’t work, snacks on hand, and it also helps me feel a bit more prepared.

Pre-preparing food before you go can help with the lack of utensils when on a campsite, or why not cook up a healthy flapjack or banana bread before your trip for healthy snacks or breakfast ideas when you’re there?

For the first night and next day, I tend to make a packed lunch to take with us, so we only need to prepare breakfast and dinner, or if we are out somewhere, it means we can get a hot dinner when we are out, and have the packed dinner for the other meal.

When you want ALL the cereal for breakfast! Reusable food pouch from Nom Nom Kids

We usually just go camping for weekends, so don’t have a grand kitchen setup, sticking mainly to soups and pastas for meals on our little stove.

Quick hacks include making jacket potatoes before you leave, that just need heating up, pre-preparing dough to make bread on the campfire, or taking pre-made frozen food (such as bolognese) that can defrost by the next day and doesn’t need to be kept in a fridge!

And if you’re preparing for a campfire, just don’t forget the marshmallows!

For a much better idea on what to pack for a camping kitchen, we love this guide on camping kitchen essentials from the amazing Camping With Style as well as these clever camping food hacks.

9. Stick to your routine (where possible)

I won’t promise you peaceful nights of endless sleep – campsites have all kinds of new noises, from late night chatter from fellow campers to early morning wildlife scurrying around the tent.

If the kids go to bed later than usual or wake up earlier, then that’s totally normal for holidays – we just try and stick to the bedtime routine and timing as best as possible to avoid having an overtired child, and means she has more energy for the next day!

Campsites have so many fun distractions but we do tend to try and stick to our routines
Campsites have so many fun distractions but we do tend to try and stick to our routines

10. Have fun!

Camping is all about having fun, so make sure you enjoy it too. Yes, you can pack as much for one night camping as you do for a whole week camping, there is a lot to remember and it doesn’t always all go to plan, but that’s the beauty of it too!

By being prepared and planning in advance, I find I have more time to relax and enjoy the campsite and being outdoors again, listening to the birds, exploring nature with the family, cooking marshmallows together and, as cheesy as it sounds, making those lifetime memories together!

Most importantly, have fun!
Most importantly, have fun!

10.5 Leave no trace!

Ok, I know I said 10, but here’s a 10.5 for you – remember while you’re having fun to LEAVE NO TRACE too, which is more than just about the importance of taking your rubbish with you.

You can find more about the 7 principles of Leave No Trace here or access the free download here for the Leave No Trace Recommendations for Getting Outside During Covid-19.

Need more inspiration?

Check out our checklist for camping with the family

Here are our reviews of our favourite family-friendly campsites

Check out our top tips for family festival camping too!

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