Here at Baby Routes we have just bought our first family tent and are raring to get out on our first family camping adventure! Given that until now all our expeditions under canvas have involved a 2-man tent that can fit in a backpack and no children we are in need of some advice to get us started.
Who better to give us some great tips on family camping for beginners than Hazel from the excellent Yellowfields Camping website? Hazel and her family are regular and passionate campers and all that experience has been converted into their wonderful website where you can find plenty of campfire campsite reviews to inspire your next trip as well as lots of tips and advice on everything from how to go about picking your perfect site to great ideas for creative outdoor play with the kids once you are there.
Here are some top tips from Yellowfields Camping to get you started with family camping trips. I am paying special attention to the ‘not misplacing car keys’ and ‘wee before bed’ tips!
Over to Hazel…
- Don’t buy kids sleeping bags they will soon grow out of them. Get an adult one and tie something round the bottom to reduce the volume. When they are very small you can even fold the left over underneath for extra softness.
- Take something pre-cooked for the first night’s food like bolognaise.
- Take a good first aid kit, plus child medicines you might need like Calpol.
- Take more socks than you could possibly think necessary!
- Do not allow the kids to open the cool box by themselves. The lid will be left off.
- Leave extra time for preparing meals, everything takes longer when you are camping.
- Take plenty of easy-to-distribute snacks (see above.)
- Do not expect your kids to go to bed at the usual time. They definitely won’t. Try not to stress about it.
- Take extra tea towels and kitchen towel. Things will almost definitely be spilt. Probably in the tent.
- Be organised about where you put stuff. Put everything back in its rightful place every time. Especially the torches and the car keys!
- If at all possible take an extra sleeping bag if your child is a bit unreliable at night.
- Break yourselves in gently – go somewhere local for just one or two nights. I think two nights is better because it’s a lot of effort for only one night.
- Camp somewhere that allows campfires. Once the kids have finally fallen asleep you will get the pay off sitting in the warmth of the fire gazing into its mesmerizing depths.
- If you do go to a campfire campsite teach the kids some basic fire safety but don’t be scared, it is a very good learning experience for them. Don’t forget the marshmallows!
- It is not necessary to camp at a campsite with a play area. A shallow stream and a good bit of woodland will provide far more play opportunities than yet another play park. Take a ball, a frisby, a hula hoop. Endless fun can be had with simple toys.
- Never take a barbecue into the tent for heat or for cooking. Carbon Monoxide kills.
- There is no such thing as too many blankets! Wrap them round you, lie on them, heap them on top of your bed.
- Get at least 3-season sleeping bags. Don’t get a mummy style sleeping bag if you like moving your legs around when you sleep.
- ALWAYS go for a wee before you go to sleep, even if you had one half an hour ago! Beer is not your friend. Wine is better, spirits are best (if you like them).
- Go to bed with a torch, a watch and a bottle of water. You will thank me for that one.
- If possible go with friends with similar aged children the first time at least. So much easier!
- Finally and most importantly – enjoy it! Appreciate some quality slow time with your family. Explore and play together. You will probably come back more tired than you went. A night’s sleep in your own bed will sort out the tiredness but you and your family will have those lovely memories and that connection with nature for a lot longer.
For even more info about camping with your family head over to Yellowfields Camping!