Camping with kids can be life-affirming, amusing, tremendously pleasurable…and occasionally a teeny bit challenging! Small children in particular may not find it easy to cope with the different living conditions. Therefore, you need to ensure that you have all the necessary accessories and gear for keeping your kids entertained and comfortable while camping. Here are a few things you need to take:
A family tent
A family tent that can accommodate all of you should be the first thing to add to your list. Sounds obvious, right? However, if you are new to camping you don’t necessarily need to go out and buy one straight away. There are many campsites that provide tents for hire (often already erected) so you can assess whether you actually like camping first before you even start to think about the equipment you need to gather. Once you have decided that camping is the way forward for cheap and fantastic holidays, use those campsites to “test-camp” a few, ask friends, look in shops, etc. and go for what you really want/need. The likelihood is that if your tent is not quite right that you will end up upgrading anyway so you might as well get what is right for you straightaway. And do check you can put it up without causing a divorce.
A portable chair
Just because you are camping doesn’t mean your tiddler wouldn’t eat the same way he/she does when at home. A portable high chair would be ideal because it takes care of your child’s comfort during mealtime. Also invest in enough portable chairs for everyone for sitting around the fire, sitting inside if it rains, etc.
Camping in large open spaces brings the possibility of all sorts of physical activities: Think bikes and trikes, scooters, ride-on toys, ball games, Frisbees, etc. for outdoors. But don’t forget activities for indoors in case of weather such as board games, playing cards, books, artwork, etc. Ensure you have some of these to hand the minute you get to the campsite to keep your kids engaged while you set up camp (yes, I learnt that lesson the hard way.) Also, be prepared for your children to ignore their toys and try everyone else’s…my toddler particularly liked somebody else’s swing ball, ride-on tractor, etc. and studiously ignored all his own.
You will inevitably pack more than you need, but one area you cannot afford to skimp on is night-time comfort. There really is nothing worse than a too-cold child or a wet bed with no spare bedclothes. So, pack an extra blow-up bed, extra sleeping bags, duvets, onesies, massive socks, etc. Being too warm is easily resolved but being too cold at night is almost impossible to recover from – cue grumpy, miserable children and adults all round.
Spending such a huge amount of time playing outside and running around will mean ravenous children. Be prepared for the little munchkins to er…munch their way through more than their usual share of barbecue fayre. Do take plenty of snacks and think in terms of filling rapidly emptying tummies so pastries would be a more substantial choice than sweeties for example.
Your little angels will be touching anything and everything that they see at your camping location. This isn’t the end of the world (certainly nothing new for me) but you should carry a pack or two of hand wipes so that you can clean their hands every now and then. Moreover, you should go for the antibacterial ones for better protection against germs.
First aid kit
You should never forget a first aid kit while traveling with your kids in any case but it is perhaps more likely to be needed when camping. All that running around means an increased risk of falling and there is the added joy of mud, rocks, thorns, etc. So, you need to ensure that the kit contains materials for cleaning and dressing wounds such as saline solution, cotton wool, bandages, scissors and tape, antiseptic creams/lotions and the like. You should also take soluble paracetamol, antihistamines and tweezers are great for removing splinters. You might also want to pack a cold compress, sterile eye wash and gel for burns. To be honest you could just keep on going and going and end up packing a suitcase just for first aid so try to keep it in perspective – you are likely to be on a campsite that has some sort of first aid provisions, you will not be totally isolated (unless you are camping up Mount Everest – then sorry, not my level of expertise) and there are doctors/hospitals all over the UK if you have a real emergency. If you still feel unsure, you can buy first-aid kits especially developed and put together for campers so fear not.
And last but not least, a little treat for yourself after you’ve chucked the kids in bed –
a crate of a glass of wine for mummy!