A family camping trip can be just what everyone needs to relax and recharge – especially after a long school year or a particularly stressful week at work. It can be easy for families to bite each other’s heads off when going through a stressful time, so an impromptu camping trip might be just what the doctor ordered. Of course, family trips camping aren’t always easy (something that can also depend on the age of your children), so to make things easier we have put together this little guide of tips and hacks for a better and happier camping trip together. Take a look and see if any of them can help you out.
What You Will Need
For a more detailed guide to what you need to bring with you when you go camping, you can check out our essential camping checklist – which we highly recommend before you head off. Here are a couple of key things you should always bring on a camping trip just to keep your memory refreshed:
- Sleeping bags
- Sleeping mats
- Food and water
- Waterproof clothing
- First aid kit
- Entertainment for the kids (board games, books, puzzles, etc.)
Tips and Hacks for Family Camping
#1 Keep Things Calm
Kids will be kids. You can expect a little noise, the occasional scream, and even a few laps at high speed around the campsite. This is all well and good, after all, they tend to have a lot of excess energy, but you have to think about the other campers. Not everyone will have children, or appreciate a lot of noise on their trip, so try to keep the kids calm while you are at the campsite.
This can be easier said than done, but even just stopping them from being loud can make a huge difference when it comes to relations with your camping neighbours. Just like you, everyone is here to relax and recharge, so make sure your kids save their energy for the fun family activities.
#2 Keep Them Entertained
This can branch off from the previous point about keeping things calm. Kids get bored easily, and when they become bored, they get into mischief. Keeping them occupied during the quieter moments of your trip when there are no activities will make things easier for everyone. Make sure you pack a few board games that you can play as a family, as well as a couple of toys that your kids can play with amongst themselves if they aren’t interested in board games.
Colouring books and other creative activities are also great distractions, as well as bringing books for them to read to keep their minds active. Try to stay away from handheld consoles and other electrical forms of entertainment.
#3 Campsite Safety and Privacy
Make sure your children are clued in when it comes to campsite safety. If there are any safety guides on the actual site, then it is important to go through them together so that everyone understands. If you are in an area where there are bears or other potentially dangerous animals, make sure your children know about them and are warned to stay away from areas like the forest if they are alone.
Similarly, they should also know about campsite privacy. Other campers don’t usually like children wandering onto their site, or in their tents, and so it is essential that your kids understand the importance of boundaries and privacy – it’s the best way to keep good relations with your camping neighbours. This goes double if you are bringing your dog with you, make sure the dog is limited to your campsite only when you are back from your daily activities.
#4 Stay Warm and Dry
Even in the summer months, the evenings can get pretty chilly when you are camping, so make sure you bring warm clothing and extra blankets for when it is time to settle down and sleep. If you are going abroad for your trip, make sure you research the general climate for the area too, so you can determine if sudden drops in temperature, even during the day, are to be expected.
Similarly, you should also be prepared for wet weather – especially if you are planning on staying in the UK for your trip. Waterproof coats and trousers should have a priority position in your backpacks, and should be ready to whip out and put on quickly. There is nothing worse than having to hike all the way back to camp in dripping wet clothes, so make sure you are completely prepared for all types of weather, no matter where you are camping.
#5 Do Your Research
So many people don’t think to research an area of campsite before they book and go. For example, there are some places that do not allow children, some that do not allow pets, and others that do not permit either to stay there. So, before you book your place, make sure you know everyone attending is allowed to stay there. It will save you a lot of hassle and potential unpleasantness.
You should also research the area that you will be staying in, as well as the country if you are going abroad. You can find out where the best hiking trails and outdoor activity areas are. Take a look and see if there are any towns nearby with interesting places to visit or eat at. Research the local culture to make sure that you follow their rules, and perhaps see if there are any festivals that you can take your family to experience. Research is key to a good, successful, trip.
#6 Test the Waters
Not all kids like camping. It doesn’t agree with all of them, and they might not enjoy the experience. This can cause tantrums, anger, and general difficulty when it comes to trying to keep them under control and help them to enjoy the trip. So, before you book your holiday, test the waters. You might be wondering how you could possibly do that, but it is actually much easier than you might think. Pitch your tent up in the back garden and create a mini campsite for the night.
As a family, you can spend the evening camping in your tent and pretend that you are on holiday together. It doesn’t give the complete camping experience, of course, but it will help you to assess how comfortable your child is with sleeping outside in a tent and eating the food that you have cooked on a camping stove. Knowing their rough reaction before you go helps you to make the trip a better one for the whole family.
#7 Stick to Your Routines
Some say that camping trips and holidays are the best time to let routines slide. Of course, much of this is down to individual parents and their own choices, but we recommend sticking to your normal routines as much as possible. Some kids don’t adapt as well to change as others, and so keeping meal times and bath times as close to the normal hour as possible can be very beneficial.
Sticking to normal bedtimes can also help them to rise early in the morning ready for the next adventure, leaving them feeling refreshed and energised. Don't forget to bring an anti-snoring device if you are one to snore. Of course, there is nothing wrong with the occasional late night (it is a holiday after all), but do try to keep things in order. It’s good for everyone.
#8 Spend Time with the Kids
Make sure you take time out to spend together while you are on holiday. After all, it is a family trip and the perfect opportunity for you all to bond. Spend the day hiking together, or find some local family activities nearby that you can all benefit from. In the evenings, sit together and eat, sharing your favourite part of each day and playing a game together. Taking the time to just be together and bond strengthens your relationship and builds amazing memories that will last a lifetime.
#9 Take Time Away from the Kids
While it is important to spend time with the children, it’s equally good to spend time apart. After all, as parents, you need some time to breathe and just be together. Send the kids to bed early and sit outside the tent together, watching the stars with a hot drink and a blanket holding you both together. Even little moments like that can help you to reconnect and just enjoy existing together. Kids can be stressful, and there is nothing wrong with taking a moment to sit back and breathe.
#10 Leave No Trace
This is the golden rule of camping, and one that we talk about in most of our guides. The sites you camp on, and the surrounding areas of natural beauty do not deserve to be left covered in litter. Make sure all of your rubbish is picked up and disposed of responsibly in a bin before you leave.
If the bins are full, put the rubbish bag in your car and throw it out when you get home or when you find the next available bin. The leave no trace rule is one that more and more campsites are trying to implement, so that we don’t have such a negative impact on nature and the local wildlife, but also so that everyone can enjoy their trips without coming face to face with rubbish and litter.
Hopefully, you have found this guide helpful when it comes to planning and attending your next camping trip as a family. Each of the tips above should give you a good idea of what to bring and do when you go on your adventure. Just remember that while it is important to spend time together, it’s equally essential that you send the kids to be early and take some time to sit in the quiet as adults. Time apart is just as healthy.
What did you think of our family camping guide? Are there any tips and hacks that you would have added? We love hearing from you, so leave us a message in the comments below.
A seasoned camper and hiker, there is nothing he doesn’t know about the Great Outdoors. Hiking alone, with friends, or even little ones, he’s done it all. A trained survivalist, he gives Bear Grylls a run for his money.