Advice for Camping with Children for the First Time

Camping with children is such an adventure and a great way to take a holiday at a more affordable price whether staying at home or going abroad. However with around 15 million of the camping trips in 2017 being in the UK (Based on ONS and Mintel data), it seems that may more of us are choosing to take a camping staycation! What you get up to in or from your tent can vary largely – whether it is stargazing, wildlife watching or attending a family festival. Needless to say whatever you are doing the first time can always be a bit daunting – especially when there are children are involved. Therefore I have put together some advice for those camping with children for the first time.

Camping with Children for the First Time: The Tent

When buying your first tent my advice is not to just wander into a shop having no clue what you want and being persuaded by the salesperson to get something that is not what you need. The first time we bought a tent we were convinced that what we needed was a massive tent, with a footprint to cater for us no matter what the weather. It actually turned out to be too big for many pitches, limiting our choices and very heavy to carry from the car. The amount of space was much greater than we needed and it was just a waste of money. Instead think about how portable it is and whether it will give you the right protection for the weather. Smaller tents are going to be easier to find somewhere to dry them when you get home too.

tent with sleeping bags outside as the sun rises
Photo by Jake Sloop on Unsplash

When taking children camping you may want to buy a tent to get them accustomed to the idea before you go away. Something small but fun such as a Rocket Kids Play Tent can be used in their bedrooms or even in the garden. Maybe even combined with eating camping food to build up a picture of what it will be like for them.

Camping with Children for the first time the location

There are so many options of where to camp these days that you can really tailor it for your family’s needs. It may be that you want somewhere local (easier if it does not work out), or maybe look at campsites with facilities for children. You may want to make sure there is one with a flushing toilet, shower, washing up area and play area (some places even offer a communal fridge/freezer!) – or if you want to be adventurous you could choose to go for the full wild camping experience!

tent and lady on the beach
Photo by Nofi Sofyan Hadi on Unsplash

Food when Camping with Children

Even if you’re confident with camp fire cooking you may want to pitch in convenient locations where you will easily be able to buy food and/or other camping supplies! There are cheats when it comes to food and camping – such as buying small cereal boxes and eating them straight from the packets to save on washing up. Another good idea is to pre-cook food that just needs reheating. If you can go with other families you can share the cooking and cleaning.

group of tents at night
Photo by lu zq on Unsplash

Of course you’ll also need to think about what you cook on, as well as where you will eat. Bring a picnic blanket, foldable chairs or even a fold away table. Then you’ll need to consider whether you’ll use your fingers or cutlery, depending on the meal, not to mention a washing up bowl, sponge, liquid and tea towels for washing up!

Advice on Sleeping for those Camping with Children for the First Time

My best advice is to consider the fact that you are going to get really little sleep! Depending on the age of your children they may struggle with the new surroundings or just be too excited! Again when choosing your tent think about whether it would work best for your family to have individual sleeping areas (either different “rooms” or actual additional tents) or if all sleeping together would work better. Of course then how comfortable you want to make sleeping with the children can depend on how much space you have. Options range from sleeping straight in a sleeping bag, on a roll mat, a blow-up mat, a blow-up bed, a camp bed or even a hammock!

hammocks between trees
Photo by Jake Ingle on Unsplash

Then you can again sleep with nothing under your head (grabbing a jumper for a pillow if needs be) or add a variety of pillows and cushions. Depending on the weather you may want just a sleeping bag or plenty of blankets, bed socks, jumpers, socks etc. Even in hot weather it can get really cold at night. Plus there’s any extras you may want to consider when camping with children, such as do you want teddies, fairy lights, ear plugs, eye masks? How far is the toilet? Will they make it? Don’t forget a torch to get there or a bucket if they can’t!

Packing when Camping with Children

Of course ideally you want to get yourself a roof box and make sure you have everything packed. But when trying to cater for all eventualities you may just end up with too much stuff. As well as the tent, food, cooking and cleaning essentials, and sleeping gear, you will also need to consider what clothes and entertainment you want to take. This will vary depending on your children and location. If visiting a festival you’ll need to pack dressing up clothes, face paints and bubbles; whereas if you’re going on an adventure holiday  remember to pack the children’s bikes, good walking shoes and swimwear! Just remember that the weather can change so quickly so it is always best to be prepared. Having a waterproof sheet is good to place on the ground – as well as making it easier to pack up the car (carrying the tent to the car last but putting it in first).

child's welly in puddle of water
Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

For ideas of activities for camping with children, more packing and cooking tips then see this Camping with Kids Guide Camping with Kids


This is a collaborative post.


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