Top tips for camping with kids

by Jan

Planning a camping trip for the whole family and feeling a bit daunted at the prospect?  Family camping can be the best fun ever, but can be hard work if it’s your first time. Our top tips for camping with kids will help relieve the stress and ensure your family camping trip is enjoyable for all the family.

We have compiled a list of useful camping hacks that will guide you through planning your trip and make it the most memorable camping trip ever.

Follow our advice and top tips for camping with kids that will make your nights under canvas a positive family experience.

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Choose your campsite carefully

Camping can mean many different things to different people. To some, a complete escape to the wilderness is their ultimate heaven, whereas others look to create a home away from home.

When picking your campsite, you need to pick one that suits the needs of your family. If you are first-time campers, wild camping may not be a great idea, especially if your children are very young.

You should also consider how long you are going for. There is no point driving for hours if you are only going for one night. On the other hand, you may wish to travel further if this is your main summer holiday.

Pack for the weather

Child in wellington boots jumping in puddle

The top tip for family camping is make sure the kids are happy. And quite honestly, no one is happy if they are wet or cold.

Moreover, one of the most obvious tips for family camping in the UK is check the weather before you go. Then, pack lots of layers, so that you can add more clothes if needed.  Even if the forecast is warm, the temperature will drop at night.

If you are camping in Britain, take a waterproof!  Kids are quite happy to play in the rain if they are dressed for the occasion.

Plus remember to take some wellies or crocs for wet weather.

Plan what the kids will do when you're pitching the tent

On arrival, the first thing you will have to do is set up camp, so you will need a plan of how to entertain the kids.  What will the children do whilst you’re unloading your car and pitching the tent.

A top tip for camping with kids is to get them to help.  Even if they are little, you can usually give them a job to help.

If not, think of an activity to entertain the kids, so they don’t get under your feet.  If in doubt, feed them!

Click here for ideas of the best family travel games.

Plan your first meal

If you arrive around lunch time, you could give the kids a packed lunch, whilst you are busy doing the tent. Or, have some of their favourite snacks ready to fill the time.

Another tip for camping with kids is plan what you’ll eat on the first evening. Try to keep it simple. Dinner could be something easy like sausages or something you’ve pre-prepared at home. Either way, it’s worth having a meal in mind, so that you don’t have to dash out to the shops, as soon as you arrive.

Enjoy the great outdoors

Often one of the main reasons to go camping is to connect with nature. And a family camping trip presents endless opportunities for outdoors activities.

Children can go hiking, climb trees, go on a scavenger hunt or go geocaching. Other ideas are making a nature collection, bug hunting or spotting wildlife.  Think about taking some children’s binoculars so they really feel the part.

Whatever you choose, it is a great chance for kids to bond with the natural world, which is great for their physical and mental health.  And don’t forget, it’s good for yours too.

Image of phone being used to search for Geocaches

If you’ve never tried geocaching, read:

A beginner’s guide to Geocaching

Have a digital detox

To fully embrace the outdoor life, one top tip is to leave all screens at home and have digital detox. This will give the children a real chance to discover new activities and make the most of outdoor life.  If you are travelling with other families, it’s worth agreeing this in advance, so that all children are in the same boat.

If your children are older, you might wish to take the screens, but limit the usage by establishing some ground rules for use.

Plan your activities

Boy with two horses

Although being at one with nature presents a more carefree style of living, it’s still a good idea to know how you’ll keep the kids entertained whilst camping. This way the family knows what to expect and you can pack accordingly.

You may wish to spend all your time at the campsite, or hiking and cycling nearby.  Alternatively, you may prefer to venture further afield on a day trip in the car.

Of course, there is no guarantee that every day will be a sunny one, so bring some camping activities for a rainy day. This could be as simple as books, colouring or travel games that can be played inside the tent.

If you are near to a beach, this is a fun day to spend the day and it’s free too!

For more ideas on how to entertain your children on a camping trip, read:

Camping activities:  77 fun things to do when camping

Organise your tent

One top tip for camping with kids that will reduce stress in the tent is to organise your tent. Ensure you have a place for everything and everyone knows it. This will prevent things getting lost and will lead to a more relaxed camping trip. You could invest in a tent tidy, with pockets for all the little things or take some storage boxes.

We always have a box by the door for shoes, which means the shoes don’t get lost and the tent stays clean. Giant laundry bags are also a good tip for packing and storing clothes.

Click here for the perfect Camping Packing List.

Keep the kids safe

Camping is the ultimate outdoor adventure for families.  However, there are lots of potential hazards.  On arrival, make sure the kids know to look out for tent pegs, guy lines and other trip hazards.  Also, keep a close eye on them by the campfire.

The campsite is an ideal venue for children to learn new things and have new adventures.  However, it is important to set boundaries when you get there.  Set guidelines on where children can and cannot go, especially if you are near a road or river.

Camping is perfect for building children’s autonomy and confidence, but they must be clear on the boundaries.

Camping, Winksworth Farm, UK

Stick to a routine

If children are camping for the first time, there will be a lot of change as they discover unchartered territory. For many, it will help if you stick to familiar routines. Bring their favourite breakfast food and keep meals to similar times.

Although bedtimes are likely to be later, keep to regular routines with teeth, washing and stories. Most importantly, remember to pack their favourite teddy!

Make it a magical experience

A camping trip is all about making memories. Give kids the chance to try activities they can’t do at home. Set up a nature scavenger hunt.  Bring giant bubbles to chase or some marshmallows for the campfire. Let them paddle in a stream or climb a tree.

Don’t forget to let the kids roam free and have fun and really don’t worry if they get dirty. Be patient and flexible and you can all enjoy each other’s company more. Camping is a great adventure for kids, but it should be fun for parents too!

For the evenings, decorate the tent with fairy lights, so it looks special or put some solar light jars outside.  One way to impress the kids on a camping trip is bring some mystical fire magic. You can turn your fire into a vibrant light show by sing these little colour-changing sachets. (These should only be used by the adults.)

Another way to entertain the children at the campsite in the evening is with some glow sticks.  If you are going with a group, you could get a glow party pack.  This fun collection of glow sticks contains connectors which children can use to make luminous bracelets, halos, sunglasses and headbands.  They will hours of fun as the campsite gets dark.

We'd love to hear from you!

Thank you for reading our top tips for camping with kids.  Do you have any great tips for first-time campers?  We’d love to hear your comments below.

*Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, which means we may earn some money at no cost to you if you click on one. (Read our full Disclosure Policy)

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Avatar for Jan
Jeremy@ThirstyDaddy 24th May 2020 - 1:56 am

Love it. Mine is just now hitting the age where we can really start to enjoy camping. My plans for the summer have taken a bit of a hit but we still hope to get out there at some point.

Avatar for Jan
Jan 24th May 2020 - 7:40 am

Yes, it definitely gets easier as the children get older. We are still hoping to go later this summer.


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