Camping with young children


We’ve always camped a lot as a family and all the boys (big and small) absolutely love it.   Camping as a family of 5 certainly takes a lot more planning and forethought (and ‘stuff’) than life before children, but it is a great experience and one to be recommended.

We’ve camping extensively in the UK, in France and throughout Europe on our epic camping road trip in the Summer of 2014.  We’re also planning a camping road tour of Northern Europe this summer, so watch this space for news of our escapades !

The first decision is always which tent to take – we have a bell tent which is up and ready in about 20 minutes, and a Bear Lake family tent which takes slightly longer, ummm….. about 3 hours longer !  We love the Bear Lake but only take it when we are staying in the same place for more that 4 nights as it’s quite an epic feat getting it and up and down in less time.   We had to resort to packing our pre-children 2-3 man pop-ups in France as we knew we’d be arriving late in the evening so they made a great quick option for the first night and we could be more leisurely getting the big tent up the following morning.

Anyway, so onto our tips …..

  • pretty much whatever the season, I pack hats and woolly socks in case the boys get cold in the night, although it tends to be me that ends up cold while the boys are all super toasty whatever the outside temperature !
  • prepare to be going to bed at the same time as the children, we often do as it’s quite nice all ‘bedding’ down together and playing games & reading books together
  • you can never have enough lights / lamps / torches – especially if someone takes one to the loo, someone else is looking for the hot chocolate in the camp kitchen and someone else wants to read their new book … you can never have enough
  • food can be as adventurous or as simple as you like really – we often see families with more kitchen kit on site than many people collect throughout a whole life time, and others just keep it very basic – I like to think we are somewhere in the middle !
  • we take our camp wardrobes / cupboards but it still is harder to keep track of clothes for some reason, so wouldn’t necessarily advise taking your ‘Sunday Best’, as you may find them rather crumpled under someones sleeping mat when you go to pack down !
  • we are always a little more relaxed over bath / shower / hair washing schedule, as even if the site has the best facilities, it’s always a little more challenging than just leaping in the shower at home. I’m not recommending that you all walk around honking for a fortnight (although it could be good strategy to ensure that no-one pitches too close to you !) but just that the nightly hairwash schedule may go slightly out the window / tent flap – I will say it’s always nice when we arrive at a site to discover that they have a family bathroom …. many memories of all 5 of us in the shower together following a day of surfing at Woolacombe …..
  • finally, make a list of all the gear you need to take and save it on your PC so you can use it next time……. take it from a voice of experience, you will need a list, and if you’re anything like us, you’ll probably still manage to forget something (ahem ….. tent peg mallet was missed on our list trip!)….

I do think there is a particular mindset to camping and you need to be willing to accept it with all it’s joys and little niggles that come hand in hand.