Camping with kids is a fun and affordable way to travel or holiday. More families than ever will be thinking about camping this year so I’ve put together this post which is a great guide to family camping. I’m going to share tips and recommend things that you need to pack. Don’t forget if you haven’t decided where you will be camping, then I have lots of recommends for UK family days out and holidays.
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First time camping tips
This year I’m sure there will be lots of families camping for the first time. A great way to see if camping is for you is to try camping in your garden. Can you borrow a tent from a friend or family member?
Once you do decide to go camping, make sure you take the basic camping kit but perhaps wait until you know if you like it before buying some none essential items. Read on to find my top tips for camping with kids of all ages so that your first trip is memorable for the right reasons.
Camping with kids tips
We love camping with kids and my kids absolutely adore it. In my experience, kids love spending time outdoors and when you are camping you spend the majority of your time outdoors. My kids love the chance to run free and enjoy being outdoors.
For me the key to regularly getting away camping is having the right camping kit and keeping it all ready to go. Having a packing list of everything you need for camping also helps so that you never forget those essential items.
Talking of packing, make sure you pack plenty of clothes and don’t forget to pack some warm layers for the evenings. When you are spending the majority of your time outdoors whilst camping, kids will inevitably need more changes of clothes. Pack a few toys and especially any teddies that they can’t sleep without.
Get children to help out with setting up and packing up the tent. There are loads of little things they can do like collecting the tent pegs up, holding on to a pole or our children’s favourite, rolling along the folded tent to compress the air before putting it away at the end of your trip.
I’m currently putting together a full blog post packed with tips for camping with kids.
Camping with toddlers
Camping with young kids is a little bit different to camping with older kids. You need some different tips and essential items which is why I wrote a couple of posts specifically with toddlers.
We started camping as a family when our eldest was 2 and I think our youngest was around 2 when we took her too. I have a full blog post packed with my top tips for camping with toddlers.
The first thing you need to think about is What do I need for camping with toddlers? which is why I put together a post filled with all the essentials and a few luxuries that you might pack too.
What do you need for camping with kids?
I’m currently writing a family camping checklist but in the mean time here are some family camping essentials. You mostly just need a tent, something to sleep on, sleeping bags, a cool box, a stove and some chairs.
Buying a family tent
Firstly you will need a good family tent. I can’t recommend buying a tent with blackout lining enough when tent camping with young kids. After all, no one wants to be awake as soon as the sun comes up!
There are a lot of different types of tent on the market to suit every style and budget. I feel the best tent for camping with toddlers and young children is a tunnel tent. Look for one with the bedrooms together at one end. We loved our tunnel tents before we bought our Mazda Bongo campervan.
We had a large tunnel tent, great for a week or more family holiday, it offers plenty of space. Find out more in our Coleman pinto mountain 5 plus XL review.
The only downside was for weekends away it took a bit longer than we liked to put up for a short break. For weekends away the * Vango Icarus 500 deluxe ticks all the boxes.
Camping cooler box
You’re definitely going to need a good camping cooler to keep your food fresh. We love our * Coleman xtreme cooler. Find out more in my Coleman 28QT xtreme cooler review. It’s a fantastic passive cool box and keeps our food fresh for a full weekend.
For longer trips we like an * electric cool box. You’ll also need a * EHU cable too or you could consider a portable power supply find out more in my Jackery portable power supply explorer 240 review.
Portable showers and toilets
This year many campsite might not be opening their facilities . If you are tent camping or even in a campervan without on board facilities then you might like to have your own portable toilet and/or camping shower.
Last year we also purchased a Colapz portable shower which we love! Even if showers are open I think this is a great piece of camping gear for families or even dog owners. Compact and powerful, it’s great for rinsing off sandy toes. You can buy it * on Amazon or direct from * Colapz and get 5% off with my discount (code is automatically applied if you use the link).
If you do decide to take your own facilities, you might need a good utility tent. I’m on the lookout for one for my family and I currently love the look of the * Colapz Ensuite shower and toilet tent (again use this link to get a 5% discount) or buy * from Amazon.
Camping activities for kids
Don’t forget to pack a few toys for your kids, here are the best camping toys for kids. However space can be at a premium in the car so try to think small. We like to take crayons, note books (perhaps you’ll start a camping journal this year), Go find it cards, a few children’s books and buckets and spades if we are going near the coast.
There are so many great outdoor activities for children that you can do whilst you are camping. Camping scavenger hunts are always fun, looking for things like specific coloured tents, water taps etc.
Other favourite activities include geocaching with kids. Great for all that walking you will inevitably do.
If you will be walking with kids then you need my post filled with things to do on a walk with kids. Perfect for keeping them entertained whilst out walking.
A lot of our camping trips are near to the coast which means plenty of trips to the beach. Here are our favourite beach activities for kids. I bet there are some in there that you haven’t thought of.
These are our favourite travel games:
Campervaning with kids
We camped in tents for many years but have now bought a family campervan so that we can extend the season and go camping for more of the year. Many of my tips for tent camping with kids work equally well for campervaning with kids.
We bought a Mazda Bongo campervan last summer. We’ve wanted a campervan for many years but always felt the price of a VW campervan was completely out of our reach. Then we discovered Mazda Bongos. We chose a 14 year old fresh import (these are imported by dealers from Japan and then they are under sealed to prevent rust).
We had a pop top added (where the girls sleep) and the only other thing we did was to have the middle row of seats (Bongos are people carriers with two 3 person bench seats in the rear) turned around a rail fitted with a detachable table. This set up creates a fantastic seating area where we can eat and relax or play games etc when the weather is less than perfect.
At night the table packs away and the 2 back rows fold down in to a double bed. You can also get kitchen areas fitted but for the moment we have decided to continue cooking outdoors and so far we have no regrets.
Caravaning with kids
We have no experience of using a touring caravan with kids but fellow blogger Tin Box family has and has written a great guide to caravaning with kids.
Our favourite campsites
We have stayed on some great campsites (and a few we wouldn’t recommend too). If I write about it, you know I would recommend it to you. I don’t like writing bad reviews, so if I don’t like the site enough to recommend it to you then you won’t find it posted here.
- Easily the best site we have stayed on in a long time – Fforest Fields campsite review
- We loved camping in the forest near Sandringham Estate – Sandringham camping and caravan club site review
Ad – a few camping luxuries
1 – National Trust blanket, * Available here.
2 – Compact and machine washable picnic blanket, * Available here in many gorgeous designs including OS maps
4- Enamel mugs, * Available here
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