Would you like to take your children on a camping trip, but you’re not sure how to do it? Help is at hand – Halfords have published The Ultimate UK Camping Guide, which you can download for free, and they’ve asked me to share my camping tips.
Ultimate UK Camping Guide
The Halfords guide shares tips on the best places to camp in the UK, as well as practical camping advice such as what to take, how to pick the best camping spot, camping recipes and how to choose the perfect tent.
I grew up camping. Whether in a den in our Surrey garden with friends, in our VW camper van in Europe with my family, or in a wooden-poled ridge tent in Wales with my Girl Guide group, camping was at the centre of my childhood and teenage travel adventures. It was sometimes uncomfortable but always fun, a chance to stay up late, be independent and learn new skills. Camping always makes me appreciate the comforts of home and think about what we have and what we really need. So although these days when I travel I usually stay in hotels, camping still has an attraction, and I think that it’s something which all kids should have the chance to experience, even if it’s just once.
I’ve had a variety of camping trips with my own kids. When they were small we bought the biggest family tent we could find, an 18-person domed affair with four separate sleeping compartments and a large central area. We used it for summer holidays in the South of France with friends. It was a long drive down there and hard work setting up camp in the heat, but once we’d done that it was very relaxing. We were by the beach and had a barbecue every night – my son still remembers those weeks as our best family trips ever.
We’ve tried camping in a tent which was set up and waiting for us at Embers Bentley in Sussex (read about it in my post Camping at Embers Bentley), a site which scores very highly with me because it has a fire-pit for every pitch – camping without a fire just doesn’t feel like proper camping. It felt very easy and relaxing not having to pitch the tent.
My most recent camping experience, without the kids, was sleeping in a hammock in the woods on a bushcraft weekend in Kent, which I really enjoyed (read about it in my post Bushcraft: sleeping in a hammock).
If you’re going camping with your children for the first time, here are my tips.
- If you’re not sure whether or not camping is for you, try one night somewhere close to home to start with.
- If you don’t want to buy any camping equipment, try a glamping site where you can stay in a fully equipped tent (check out this guest post by Afra Willmore about glamping at Chessington.)
- If you don’t want the hassle of buying/ transporting/ pitching a tent, go to a site where the tents are already set up, and you just need to take your own equipment.
- A cheaper option than the previous two is to take your own tent and equipment, so that all you need to pay for is a camping pitch. Either buy camping gear, so that you can use it again and again, or borrow stuff from friends and family.
- If you buy or borrow a tent, practice putting it up and taking it down before you set off on a trip. And remember to take a mallet.
- Choose a campsite which allows fires and barbecues so that you can enjoy a campfire in the evenings. Remember to take some marshmallows to toast, and metal skewers – and firelighters and matches!
- Take some wine and some yummy food with you so that you don’t have to head to the shops for supplies as soon as you get there.
- Take a rechargeable camping lantern and wind up torches for everyone so that you’re not caught out when the batteries run out.
- Take shoes which are really easy to put on and take off – wellies and flip flops are ideal. Take waterproof coats too, even if rain isn’t forecast.
- Have something which you find comfortable to sit on, whether it’s a picnic blanket or a camping chair.
- Make sure your bedding will keep you warm enough, because it’s cold in a tent at night, even during the summer.
- If you can fit them in, take along bikes or scooters for the kids so that they can explore the campsite.
And here are some tips from my family for first time campers —
- My son says: ‘Take extra blankets’.
- My daughter says: ‘Get a pitch not too far from the toilets, in case you need to go during the night.’
- My husband says: ‘Make sure there’s somewhere to charge your phone’.
Over to you
If you’ve been camping before, do you have any advice to add?
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Halfords