Camping with Kids
A guide for a holiday to remember with your children
We camped for many years before we had children, staying in tents, cabins, glamping etc. There was always something we forgot - the hammer for the tent being a regular!
When we bought our campervan "Coast" our two boys were 2 & 4 years old. We have learnt a lot when camping with our children and would like to share with you below a few ideas to enrich your holiday experience with your family in the great outdoors.
Preparation is key, family holidays are things to be treasured, great memories can be made along with much laughter. We have increasingly busy lives and sometimes the smallest of things are what matters.
"Enjoy the little things in life because one day you will look back and realise they were big things"
The above quote is what I think of camping, I like to be prepared and think about the details to create magical experiences. For example, when camping at Easter why not decorate the camp with fairy lights, Easter signs and hide eggs around the pitch. The same goes for Halloween camping, it doesn't take much time to prepare but gives a lovely festive feel to the holiday.
Below are some tried and tested ideas to keep in mind when taking kids camping.
For The Journey
Our campers have been upgraded so that you can listen to your own music from your phone/device. You can either be prepared with a playlist or take requests as you drive (mobile signal dependant!). We love taking it in turns to select a tune for our roadtrip. Let you children choose songs - music and laughter makes for a Joyful Journey!
Warning: You may end up learning the lyrics (and actions) to Baby Shark (do-do-do-doo)
What to Pack
Trying to pack as light as possible whilst preparing for the different weather scenarios the UK throws at us can be quite a task!
One way to pack and stay organised is for everyone to have their own bag. This way you can keep track of clothes and everything is easily accessible for each family member.
To keep things lightweight and versatile pack layers - long sleeved, short sleeved, lightweight trousers, leggings, fleeces are great - I always pack a vest and spare socks (where on earth do they go?!). You can add and remove layers weather dependent.
A lightweight waterproof jacket is always useful to have, you never know what the weather can do, even in August!
Flip Flops are great on the beach or for wearing back at camp. Wellies in winter! I always bring sturdy trainers or walking boots too.
A hot water bottle is a nice idea, great in chilly evenings outside and for warming sleeping bags too.
The great thing about hiring a camper is that your wardrobe travels with you, your home is where you park it. So if you have an impromtu visit to the beach, you'll have your swimmies & towel with you. Be spontaneous - it will guarantee big smiles and happy memories :-)
The launderette is only a google search away. The camper will get mucky - sand and soil will make its way in. We provide a dustpan and brush for you to use if you like, but please don't worry about bringing the camper back dirty, this is simply a sign of good times had! And that is what is important. You are on holiday after all!
I like to make each person up their own wash bag. That way everything is easy to find and organised. Remember things such as hand sanitizer and nail scissors! Oh and baby wipes for cleaning the mud/sand/ice cream off!
Our children are now 4, 6 and 4 months. I have made our children their own campervan 'busy bags' which they take with them on all their trips. I like to prepare activities for them and pop them in the bags and they also enjoy choosing some toys (plus their teddy bears) to bring along with them. This is perfect for getting out to keep them entertained whilst you are setting up camp. They can use their imagination and make up their own games.
Here are some ideas of things I pop in;
- A balloon - there are so many games you can play with a balloon and you don't have to worry about balls flying around campervan windows! Pass the balloon and keep it off the ground, balance on your head, fingertip races etc.
- A couple of thick crayons - these are great for making leaf/bark prints and discovering different outdoor textures
- Small paint set - everyone loves rock painting! Find and decorate your own rock creation and hide for others to find. You can also play hide and seek with these around the campsite!
- Coloured thread - make your own friendship bracelets
- Plain Paper - paper aeroplanes!
These are such simple, inexpensive things which you can find around your home, but guarantee to keep young folk entertained and engaged whilst using their imagination.
Children's Book - Don't forget the bedtime story! I like to have an outdoor theme - Winnie-the-pooh, The Magic Faraway Tree to name a couple.
Movie Night - Whether you bring along a tablet or download a movie onto your phone, it's always good to be prepared and have a movie ready incase of a rainy evening or perhaps a nice way to end the day together as a family. Don't forget the popcorn! Why not pop some corn kernels on the hob, BBQ or campfire? A simple movie snack!
Out & About
A couple of essentials for you to bring along on your trip:
Bucket & Spade - Whether you are headed to the beach, park or stream
Kite - Why not bring a simple kite along, you never know when you'll get the opportunity to set it off
Children's Magazines - Great whilst dining out or even whilst waiting at the launderette!
For some reason all the day to day tasks seem a lot more interesting outdoors and can actually turn into enjoyable family activities!
We include an extra sponge so your little ones can help do the washing up. The warm water and bubbles will engage them, they will have fun helping and learn a skill at the same time. We love using this time to talk about our day and making plans together for the following day.
10 Minute Tidy Up
OK, so you've been camping a few days, your home from home is looking like it needs a freshen up. Involve all the family, choose a task, pop a fun tune on the camper radio and dance your way to a tidier abode.
A couple of years ago we were camping on the isle of wight for two weeks. We were about 5 days in and the laundry was piling up. One rainy day we explored the island looking for a launderette. The children wanted to help us carry the bags of laundry and enjoyed putting the coins in the machines. Whilst we waited we had a seaside fish and chip lunch in the campervan, it was lovely sat around the campervan table together, we were toasty warm whilst it was pouring outside. We even made hot chocolates too!
We went back to switch the clothes to the tumble dryer and then went bowling whilst we waited for them to dry. It was a novelty for the children using the washing machines, we had a lovely day together and got the laundry done too!
Tips: Bring lots of £1 coins for the machines! Remember washing tabs/liquid :-)
Pack the Essentials
We make sure our campers come fully equipped, all those little things which can make your holiday extra special. Marshmallows around the campfire - no problem, there are skewers in the camper all ready for you. Fancy a game of cards after dark - all sorted. Tin foil to cover the leftovers? Hot chocolate after a chilly walk? We sort all the practical items so that you can focus on the fun stuff.
Our campers come equipped with a camping cookbook. Why not take it in turns to all choose a meal (kids included!). They (or you) can write a list of required ingredients and shop for them, they can help prepare and serve their menu.
Children like snacks! When we set off on a camping trip (or any trip for that matter!) I always ensure I have snacks, I usually make a list and try to vary between foods. Why not take the children shopping or ask them what foods they would like for snacks too - they always enjoy picking out different things to try. One idea is to bring some re-useable snack pots along. You can then prepare fruits and veggies to take out with you during the day. Some of our staples are; Fruit (whole or prepared in pots), Carrot/cucumber/pepper sticks, yogurt pouches, raisins, cereal bars, crisps, biscuits, brioche, croissants, breadsticks.
Of course there is the obligatory ice cream too!
Many a time whilst on a day out I have had to pay an extortionate amount for a small bottle of water. I have learnt my lesson and always like to be prepared! During the summer I always like to bring a couple of extra bottles with me. One treat is to freeze drinks (pop in the campervan freezer the night before - they are perfect for hot summer days).
Back at camp
My children love smoothies! You don't need a Nutribullet to recreate this yummy snack - why not mash some fruit (bananas, berries etc) add some milk and stir. A perfect cool healthy snack back at camp. A lovely activity for the little ones.
Keep an eye out for a "Pick you own" farm if camping during the summer months, you can pick fresh berries to enjoy back at camp - a great activity which can also turn into a yummy dessert! Each campervan comes with a fully equipped kitchen so you can get the little ones involved and create your own evening treat - Eton Mess, Strawberries & Scones, Fruit crumble, Meringue roulade, fruit tart or my old favourite - BBQ chocolate banana & strawberries :
Bananas and/or strawberries
1. Tear off a piece of foil large enough to fully wrap around the banana.
2. Keep the skin on the banana and score the banana from top to bottom to create an opening.
3. Break your chocolate of choice into small squares and pop around 4 or 5 squares into the banana, you can swap for or add strawberries too.
4. Wrap the tin foil tightly around the banana and pop on the cooling BBQ for 15-20 minutes, undo the foil and enjoy your messy treat with a spoon!
We are passionate about providing a holiday experience for families, not just providing a campervan for hire. Therefore we ensure that our campers come fully stocked with equipment to create great family memories and holidays your children will treasure.
I hope the above has been helpful. As you've probably discovered by reading, preparation is an important part of a camping trip with children. However, as important as it is to plan and be prepared, the beauty of being outdoors is being in the moment. Make time for the little things, go with the flow knowing that you are equipped for all scenarios our lovely countryside can delight us with.