We've all thought about it but how many have actually had the courage to do it?
Camping with kids.
It usually invokes a colourful response whenever someone talks about it, especially if someone is actually suggesting you try it.
But, is it that bad?
Well, in my limited experience, every time we camped it was never as bad as we thought it would be. The kids are really relaxed with the extra freedom that it brings and having everyone snuggled up together at night can be very comforting for small children.
Also, if you camp in a tent on the campsite instead of hiring a static mobile home you could save €2,000 for a standard 14 night stay in a popular site in France. That’s a lot of money saved just by sleeping in a tent.
However, if you are not prepared it can be pretty terrible. We were caught in a thunderstorm with the wrong equipment and had to put the kids in the car while the parents packed up all the gear, now soaking wet, in the rain.
So what are the essentials? Here we list what we think are the most needed things if you are planning on going to a campsite for your holidays. You may think some are unnecessary but having them will make the whole adventure that much more enjoyable.
"Are you serious? Of course, we need a tent". Yes, but the type of tent you bring can mean the difference between a good nights sleep or having to put your kids in the car during a thunderstorm.
Of course, if you and your kids are Bear Grylls addicts then tents are for city folk. Sleep under the stars and experience the true beauty of the great outdoors.
Yes, another one.
As a general rule, I think you need at least two tents either side of a gazebo. The gazebo can be used as your sitting room/kitchen. You can get the kids changed here and send them to bed in their own tent. Or rather one tent is for everyone to sleep together, the other one is used for storage.
Nice try, though!
As above, and in poor weather, the central area can be used to change out of any wet gear and to leave them hanging to dry thereby avoiding any water in the sleeping tents.
Try and find one that folds down flat - can be used preparing dinner, eating dinner, having drinks after dinner. Pretty much essential if you are spending more than one-night camping.
Have you ever tried only lying down or standing up for more than 2 hours? Well, it's pretty uncomfortable. A chair is an essential. You could try and get a table and chair combination, or else pick up some foldable camping chairs. They are not the most comfortable when you try them out in the shop but believe me, at 10 pm when the kids are asleep and you sit down for a cold beer in front of the fire it feels like a King's Throne.
6. Cutlery and Delph
The plastic variety is perfect. Some cups, plates, knives and forks that can be washed quickly and used for every meal.
7. Lights & Candles
It does get dark at night and usually before the kids get to bed. You will need some lanterns, some torches and some candles (preferably lemon scented to keep the midgies away).
You have prepared well, young camping Jedi. The first night your lights were such a lifesaver. What are you going to do on the second night when the batteries run out?
9. Sleeping Bags
Depending on which country you are camping and at what time of year, you will need sleeping bags to suit. It's is always preferable for the kids being too hot instead of too cold. They sleep when they are hot.
You can pick up very decent self-inflatable mattresses for about €100 per double. Yes, they are expensive. However, they are very easy to transport and inflate and your kids will be very comfortable sleeping on them. They can also be used at home for sleepovers.
Never, ever, ever forget an undersheet for your tent. Although your tent may be waterproof, water always finds a way to get it. If the bottom of your tent gets damp/wet, the water will eventually seep through to your mattresses. An undersheet gives an extra layer of protection to ensure a dry sleep in any conditions.
12. Bottle Opener / Corkscrew
The kids are tucked up in bed. The table is set for a late evening romantic snack. You settle down in your comfortable camping Throne. Then your better half asks for the corkscrew to open the vino.
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