Camping With Children – Lessons Learned

Our first family camping trip was a one night affair in the glorious Surrey sunshine. It was a very different story a few weeks later when we pitched our tent at Just So Festival.
First of all it was raining. No not that fine rain that gets you really wet – it was that heavy rain that makes you wonder if you’ll ever be dry again! It’s worth noting that Phill and I, though happily married, have equally bad tempers when tired and low tolerance levels when cold or wet.   It’s also worth noting that we were both tired!

So yes, there were crossed words as we erected our tent.  There was swearing. Someone might have stormed off and said they were going home.  It might’ve been me.  I might have done it twice! Eventually though we got that stupid poxy useless tent up and started to unload all of the ‘essentials’ that I’d packed.

Essentials for Just So aren’t the same as normal camping essentials- you need bunting and fairy lights and costumes. But sat in our tent which was full of too much food and too few blankets, I decided to write down for future reference, the packing lessons I’d learned.

  1. It’s liable to get colder than you think. We brought blankets instead of sleeping bags because we felt they were the best option given that Dottie likes to bed hop.  But we were freezing quite cold!  I still think blankets were a good option but next time I’ll pack fleecy onesies too!
  2. You aren’t feeding the whole field.  We took too much food – way too much.  We brought food that we didn’t even look at while we were camping.  Really we ought to have packed ‘per person’.  Rather than bringing 2 bags of fruit, we should’ve brought an apple each per day etc etc. We also didn’t need 6 pints of UHT milk or a whole jar of hot chocolate.
  3. Single servings are the way forward.  I love tea, Phill loves coffee, but there’s a limit to how much we can drink.  Little sachets would have worked so much better than sandwich bags of tea bags and jars of coffee!
  4. Living out of bags is no fun.  It’s a nightmare rooting through bags to find clothes or cosmetics.  And food stored on the floor in carrier bags just doesn’t taste quite right.  I spotted one family who had packed everything in plastic storage boxes with lids.  This genius idea meant that they could easily see their clothes and food and that kitchen things were protected from creepy crawlies and noses were protected from the smell of soggy, muddy clothes.  A shoe tidy helps to keep smaller items handy. Things like wipes, chargers, sun lotion, glasses, batteries, torches, deodorant, cameras and phones are all easy to lose in a tent!
  5. Take small picnic blankets.  You know those tiny blankets you see in pound shops?  The ones that only fit one adult bottom?  Well although they may seem silly, they’re a great alternative to a big blanket that’s liable to be covered in food and muddy boots.
  6. Don’t forget torches.  It might be easy to find your way when you leave in the morning but in the dark it’s a different story.  A torch could be the difference between getting back to your tent safely and landing face down in a muddy puddle!
  7. Mark your tent.   Once the sun goes down, tents generally all look the same.  So unless you’re the only campers for miles around, I’d recommend marking yours with bunting, fairy lights or inflatable flamingos or all three!
  8. Keep your bathroom things off the muddy floor by choosing a wash bag with handles and sewing a loop on your towel.  Even if the showers don’t have a hook, you’ll generally be able to find somewhere to hangs things up.  A clean surface to lay them on may be harder to come by!
  9. Don’t forget your routine.  No doubt you’ll be going to bed, waking up and eating meals at different times to usual.  But having familiar things such as story books, favourite blankets and toys can really help to settle little ones  down.
  10. Don’t bother with brollies.  Seriously are you going to be that person who blocks everyone’s view with a big umbrella?  No – I didn’t think so.  Better to take waterproof jackets with hoods or the school trip staple, a pack-a-mac!!

Do you have any tips for camping with children?

Love Rachel