It is no surprise that I like camping really. My family heritage basically points me in that direction. My maternal ancestors were Romany gypsy and my paternal were Irish horse thieves who liked to travel a bit…it is in my blood!
We first started taking the girls camping when they were quite young, Miss I was just months old when we packed up the tent and she spent her first night under canvas (and several layers of clothes and blankets!). The girls are older now so gone are the days of cold water sterilising and sleeping with bottles of pre-mixed formula in my sleeping bag so it was the right temperature but camping with three children still has its challenges.
First a bit of background, Mr C and I have three girls between us. Miss A is six, Miss O is five and Miss I is three. Here are my top tips for family camping…
• The tent. For us size is key, get yourself a tent as big is you can physically (a) fit in your car and (b) erect with your family. We have a 8 person tent for the five of us and it has the amazing benefit of black out bedrooms. These bedroom compartments mean the children are waking up as soon as the sun rises – pretty close – but it gives you a little more sleep.
• The campsite. We like to ensure the facilities are good – showers and loos etc. The best we have found are at Woodview in Bude. The family showers rooms have a loo, sink and TWO showers. They are also immaculately clean. We tend to book via Pitchup who give great reviews on all the sites. Another must for us is something for the kids to do while we are at the campsite. Swings, park, animals to feed. All help keep them amused when you are hanging out at the tent.
• Electric. We have recently found that having electric hook up is…well…life changing. Our phones are charged and we can take our beloved coffee machine. I am a total caffeine fiend so being able to have a good cup of coffee when I wake up is a must! We also have an electric cool box so always have cold milk for the kids and cold tonic for my gin! #winner
• Food. The first night can sometimes be a little hectic so for us fresh pasta and sauce is a winner. The pasta boils in a few minutes and the kids inhale it. The rest of the time is a mix of BBQs and pubs! I know there are families that cook every night at the campsite but it is my holiday too so a few nights off is good. I also pack a shed load of snacks for the kids. If I had a pound for every time one of the girls asked for food then I would be able to afford for someone to pitch the tent and cook for us all. Crisps, crackers, dried fruit, bananas etc. The kids drink loads of water but those new tiny bottles of super concentrated Robinson Squash is a great thing to pack.
• Wet wipes. Take them. LOTS OF THEM!
• Toys. We give the kids a rucksack each and the rule is that if it fits in the bag then it can come camping!
• Bedding. It will be freezing at night and baking hot as soon as the sun hits the tent. We take layers that can be added or removed as required. The kids have sleeping bags – they love them! I throw a blanket over them when they fall asleep and they wriggle them off when they get too warm.
• Clothing. Once again it will be freezing in the evening so jumpers and jeans are always in my bag. Wellies and waterproofs when camping in the UK are a no brainer!
• Attitude. Remember it will be dirty, you will be knackered and kids will run wild. My advice is chill out and enjoy watching your kids have some much needed freedom.
Happy camping everyone!