Family Camping Know-How!

Campfile cooking
Campfire cooking

There are thousands of useful and not so useful lists and blogs all over the Internet about family camping, there are books and magazines.

There are even videos around telling you what to do and what not to do. It’s up to you if you want to read them or not, but good advice and some camping know-how can sometimes save your sanity and your holiday!

I have been camping with my children since they were so small that all they did was sleep all day and all night! I’m in no way an expert but I’ve tried almost everything, at least once.

I was once at a lovely, quiet festival on my own with my two sons. We had a nice big tent, rugs on the floor, a kitchen set up with a teapot and porridge for breakfast, we had real duvets and costumes to wear everyday. It was a triumph of packing!

The family next to us arrived in the night, stressed and tired. They put up two bell tents and crashed out. At 7am when their twin toddlers were ready to kill some one or thing, dad crawled out of his tent to find me sat on the grass making the day’s packed lunches while one son read me a Spike Milligan poem and the other was washing up. The look on his face was worth a million bucks, total amazement!

After I had made our neighbours all cups of tea we chatted about getting to the festival and the conversation went a little like this: “So you have a truck?”….”No…” I said. “Well then you must have a big car or a trailer or something?”….”No…” I said, “we have a Golf. No roof rack, no trailer, just good packing”.

So, even if you think my idea of each child having a plate bag, complete with colour matched cutlery, plate, bowl and cup (saves arguments) is mad and that you always go back to the tent for supper and comfy night clothes before heading out for headliners (saves sleeping dressed as a mariachi band) is time consuming, I can safely say, I have impressed one family, once, with my packing skills!!

Here is my list, it’s taken 13 years to perfect and I have each part of it washed, repacked and stored away by the end of September each year, just waiting to come out again in time for our first outing!

List of camping know-how packing

Camping in one big tent

  • One large kit bag for all the bedding, if it doesn’t fit, you don’t need it.
  • One back pack for each person, once the essentials have gone in the kids can fill the space up with whatever they want.
  • One bag for towels, wet weather gear and bin liners.
  • One chair/stool each
  • One torch each
  • One plate bag (cup, plate, bowl, cutlery, tea towel) each
  • Costumes (including fancy umbrella’s, bubbles, crazy straws, glow sticks, maraca’s and at least one kazoo each!)
  • Camp Kitchen (I use an old fishing tackle box that doubles as a table and holds everything)

Camping in small tents

  • The same as above but each tent should have a ground sheet, rug and bedding set.
  • Gazebo or big tent fly sheet as a shelter for the whole family.

Camping in a van

  • Take whatever you can safely fit in it along with the main list of camping gear !!

See you all in a campsite somewhere, drinking tea and checking out other people’s  tents!

Enjoy the trip!

8 thoughts on “Family Camping Know-How!

  1. We spent an entire festival with two odd wellies once as Sam had taken them off outside a kids tent within 10 minutes of arriving and we couldnt find them again! Somewhere in the world someone else’s child had odd wellies !!!

  2. So true… if it’s warm enough (or you are active enough to keep warm) then shorts are often more practical for rain because legs dry very easily with a towel once you get back to the tent… x

  3. Talking of the wet-weather-plans, one year i gave the boys the choice of waterproof tousers and long socks with wellies or shorts and wellies. They went for shorts and wellies with ‘foot drying’ stops when they filled up with water !!!!

  4. Love reading other people’s checklists. My camping low point was leaving the matches out one evening after spending an evening chatting and drinking wine by candle light. The next day they were too damp to light the water for my essential morning cuppa. I lived & learnt and make sure I pack these very carefully now!

    1. LOL! Yes, keeping an awareness about what you will want to be close at hand first thing in the morning is a really good tip and makes life much more comfortable when you’re chilly and damp! Likewise getting all your evening and bedtime stuff ready while you still have some natural light and it’s not too cold is a really good idea too. Romany.

  5. This is a brilliant packing guide. We went camping with both kids last weekend and the childrens clothes went into one bag and ours went in another. As its only for a few days wearing the same things isn’t a problem unless of course it tips it down.

    1. At festivals we tend to leave one warm dry emergency change of clothes in the car – just in case! It’s also nice to have something a little cleaner and more comfortable for the journey home too. Romany

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