With the average British child spending on average just 16 minutes per day in parks, countryside or by the sea, our vision of rosy-cheeked, scraped-knee, free-range childhood is fast disappearing. It doesn’t help that parents are working longer hours than ever, and holiday leave is a precious commodity. This is where the humble camping trip can really shine. Not only is it relatively inexpensive and easy to arrange, but it’s a great opportunity to go back to basics and recharge the whole family under the stars. So, whether you’re considering camping at a family festival or simply going off the grid for a weekend, try these handy camping tips.
A recent Mintel report estimates that nearly 18 million British families enjoyed camping last year. Glamping and caravanning have broadened its appeal, but kids love the excitement and cosiness of being in tents. You will, of course, need to find a tent that accommodates everyone comfortably, although older children may prefer the independence of being in their own smaller one. For stress-free camping, it’s worth practising putting your tent up in the garden before you set off, and trying to arrive at your campsite during daylight hours if possible. Next, find sleeping bags and roll mats or air mattresses to lie on. It’s worth spending a bit more here for good quality as everyone’s cheerier after a good night’s sleep. Lanterns and torches are handy for late night toilet trips, and if you’re a light sleeper, you might find earplugs or eye masks useful too.
Arguably the most important feature of planning a family holiday is deciding what to eat. The National Trust lists cooking on a campfire as one of its top 50 activities to do before you’re 11 ¾, and let’s face it, grown-ups love toasting over a glowing fire too. If you’re worried about the safety of an open fire, try a fire pit which you can cover as needed. The most useful cooking item you can take with you, however, is a lightweight portable camping stove. A stove will give you the freedom to cook scrambled eggs for breakfast or hot chocolate for sunset; and all important coffee in between. You will also need at least one small pan, outdoor-friendly plates, mugs and utensils. Some campsites offer fridge space, or somewhere to refreeze ice blocks for cool bags, so check reviews before you go.
For a mini break which refreshes and recharges the whole family, camping is hard to beat. Stepping away from screens and the stresses of everyday life is a tonic for everyone. If you’re concerned about buying everything new for your first trip, ask around and borrow items so that you can see what suits your family. Camping needn’t be expensive, but that family time is priceless.