What could be more fun than going on a relaxing camping trip with your family? You can enjoy the great outdoors, teach your children about nature and help them learn valuable skills. Of course, you will also save money. Camping pitches are cheaper than posh hotels, after all.
But camping trips are not for everyone. After all, sleeping in a tent under the stars – as romantic as that might be – is not quite the same as sleeping in a warm, cosy bed. Weather conditions can be harsh, creepy crawlies may appear, and being away from creature comforts such as TV and Internet may not go down well. Some people don’t respond well to being taken out of their comfort zone. While some kids will wholeheartedly embrace the experience, others may not. The following tips should help you make your family camping trip a success.
Pick the right site
There are plenty of options available, ranging from comfortable campsites with hot showers, a restaurant and many mod cons to isolated spots in national parks offering nothing but scenery. If you or your family are new to camping, it’s best to start somewhere more comfortable. You may be dreaming of an empty mountaintop with far-reaching vistas and no neighbours for miles, but your family may appreciate running water, a hot shower or even just being able to use a flushing toilet.
Children who are not yet sold on the concept of camping in a tent may be more keen if the site or the area offer fun facilities such as water slides, mini golf, museums or caves to explore. If their first camping trip makes a good impression, they will be keen to go again, possibly even to more rustic places.
Make sure your gear is up to scratch
Your camp gear needs to be thoroughly checked before every camping trip. If you’ve bought a new tent (you can find some good ones on Tents and Camp Gear), set it up in your garden or a nearby park before heading off into the wilderness. You don’t want to arrive at the camp site and discover you have missing or broken parts. If your tent is old and you’ve been camping in rainy weather a lot, it won’t hurt to waterproof it again before your next trip, giving particular attention to seams.
Always take inventory of your camping gear before a trip, and repack if necessary. Even if you have a system, it’s easy to pack things into the wrong place at the end of the trip when you’re in a rush to get home. Do this with plenty of time to spare so that you can replace any broken or missing items.
When packing your car, think “last in, first out” and plan accordingly. That way you can easily set up when you get there and also access other important stuff such as food for the kids, etc. You don’t want to have to look for hours for an essential piece of equipment before you can set up camp for the night.
Arrive with plenty of time
Unless you know your camp gear by heart and are an experienced camper, aim to arrive on site with plenty of sunlight to spare. You don’t want to have to set up in the dark. Having to put the kids to bed in the car because setting up is taking too long is not going to be fun for anyone. Arriving early may also help you find a good spot at a busy campsite.
Pack everything you need
Make a packing list and go over it to be sure you’ve got everything. This is especially true if you’re going somewhere without a shop or a restaurant. The last thing you want to do is have to get in the car and drive for miles to get an essential item you forgot. If you need to bring your own food and water, it’s best to get more than you think you’ll need. Buy unperishable food such as canned food, dried rice or pasta, etc. This will keep for ages so you can take it on your next trip.
Prepare kids’ activities
Nature and the outdoors are wonderful, but if your kids are used to playing video games, watching TV and chatting online, they may not appreciate their time away without being given something to do. You can charge electric items such as tablets in the car to make sure they can watch cartoons or films and bring books, board games, card games, etc. to keep them occupied.