Top Tips for Taking Kids Camping
Updated: Apr 1
Make camping fun for the whole family
1 Research you site
When taking kids camping for the first time it's really important to do some research before you go. I've been to a number of sites in the UK and Europe which are far from the ideal campsite for kids. There are also many sites which specifically cater for families with children. Many of them have swimming pools, kids clubs and adventure playgrounds and other activities. Maybe you're taking your kids camping to have a quiet family get away. It's always worth checking with the site before you book what facilities they have, do they restrict group sizes and have a curfew.
2. The Dark
Even if your kids aren’t scared of the dark at home, a tent can be a strange place for a child. I’ll never forget my little girl having a screaming fit as she was woken by another camper tripping over a guy line. There are unusual and unfamiliar sounds such as wildlife and birds and voices of other campers that carry further at night. My advice is to provide your kids with a dim nightlight and a torch should they become scared. That way they can always find you.
If you're lucky enough to be taking the kids camping where campfires are permitted then have one! There's nothing more exciting for a kid than watching the flames and sparks up into the night sky and hearing the wood crackle on a campfire. It's an excellent time to bond as a family, tell stories, toast marshmallows and just hang out together. The campfire or fire pit is always the highlight of the day for my kids when we camp.
4. Camping games
Rules vary from site to site when it comes to playing games, especially where people have parked expensive caravans, however when we camp there are certain things we never leave behind. For sunny days we take swingball, a Frisby, a kite and a football as a minimum. Depending on what facilities the site has we may add a basketball and tennis rackets to that. For rainy days we take playing cards, top trumps and scrabble. I personally love to be tech free on family camping holidays however on particularly bad days a film on the Ipad can be forgiven.
5. Washing and Cleaning
Most campsites in the uk and certainly in Europe provide areas where clothes can be washed and pots and pans can be cleaned. Not everyone has the same standards. I would advise taking a good antibacterial spray, plenty of washing up liquid and dish clothes and your own washing up bowl. This is a good idea from a hygiene point of view but it's also easier to carry the plates to the washing up area. If you are in a larger tent you could consider your own sink unit in the tent. These can be very basic or they can be fully equipped with running water and a drainer.
Washing clothes can be a challenge on some campsites. Most have a washer and dryer at the very minimum with some larger sites having full launderettes. It is always worth checking though. One very basic site we visited in Spain had outdoor sinks for washing clothes despite the entire site being insanely dusty.
6. Don't let them get caught short
Having somewhere for kids to go to the loo in the night is absolutely essential. On many sites you could be a 5 minute or more trudge from the nearest toilet block, it could be cold, rainey and windy and you're having to drag a desperate child through a dark campsite. There are a huge number of toilets available that can be used inside the tent or in a toilet tent. Some of them can cost over £150 and have a flush system similar to the one you have at home. Others look like a bucket with a toilet seat on them, which is essentially what they are. Most sites have a chemical toilet disposal point where you can discard any waste in the morning.
7. Pick the right clothes
There is always a need to take warm clothing camping. The Weather can never be guaranteed. My advice with picking the right clothes for your kids camping trip would be to think how long they are going to take to dry. Nylon type shorts and T-Shirts, quick drying fleece tops and long sleeve base layers are what I would recommend. They can be spot cleaned if they get dirty and if they need a full was they will quickly air dry. Just make sure they have a number of layers just in case they get cold.
8. Blow off the routine
Camping is one huge adventure for kids. I've always found that trying to stick to the usual bedtime and meal time routine does not work. Free yourself from the routine, let them eat when they are hungry and sleep when they are tired. On a 12 week trip around Europe I initially attempted to stick to the usual routine. That only causes me and the kids stress and anxiety.
9.Meet other campers
Campers are a friendly bunch, talking to other campers can give you great information on what there is to do in the local area, the best cafes, pubs and restaurants and points of interest. I have friends who I have met camping from Norway to Casablanca and they are a fantastic resource when it comes to the best campsites to choose if you're a parent. Lastly, remember there are millions of campers in your position, I've been there.
Check out our beginners guide to what to take camping here
Read about some of the best 6 man tent ideal for family camping here
Thanks for reading, if there's anything I can do to help your adventure go smoothly please reach out.