what are the top tips for a successful camping trip?

(172 Posts)
Wolfcub Sat 27-Jul-13 12:08:20

After nine years I've finally convinced dh to try camping. He's discovered modern tents hmm and has been very excited buying a tent and things to go in it. He has real issues with public loos so for our first trupr I've booked a site that won loo of the year! ds and I are very excited and I'm not worried about us but I want to make sure the trip is a success so that we all have a great time. what are your top tips for a great family camping trip?

CerealMom Thu 01-Aug-13 17:33:30

Paint your fingernails with dark varnish. You won't see (and be obssesively picking at) the grub.

<just me then>

nickstmoritz Thu 01-Aug-13 17:58:27

A puffa/down type coat, ski trousers and a woolly hat and you can stay up outside as long as you like having a nice glass or two (if you are at a camp fire campsite you don't need the ski trousers but mine have been the object of envy on many a camping trip!) I have even slept in them before.

Took hotties last time - good call. I endorse the decent airbed & loads of bedding school of camping. We do duvet & pillows. Kids like sleeping bags.

One of those octopus type sock drier things (Ikea sell them) great for tea towels, socks, wet beach shoes etc and a portable washing line and pegs as there is always wet stuff.

If you go out for the eve eg to pub meal etc get the kids to take their toothbrushes/paste with them and do the loo and teeth before going back to camp. I like to make use of any decent facilities while I am out and about especially if I am at an "eco" loo campsite and try and avoid the compost loos (yuk) and/ or long trek.

Head torches great, family games for wet weather.

We have found one of those big "bungalow" type frame tents ace if you have several kids & dog plus it fits our friends in too if weather a bit dicey. All the kids pile in and play. It is very 70s and even comes with curtains plus has a little porch area to cook in when wet. (please note how much the words wet and rain feature in our camping trips!)

Went to a site that allowed fires last year & that makes camping even better.

There have been some top tips here. Very useful. Cheers.

faithfulandtruthful Thu 01-Aug-13 18:08:06

The thing that makes camping miserable is being cold, take a fleece or hoodie to wear in the evening/mornings/midnight loo visits take a hat to keep your head warm/stop small insects biting you head/cover up bed hair for morning toilet visits. Long socks and if keen flip flop wearer toe socks. Take a blanket to wrap yourself in when you start to feel cold.

After years of camping I have ended up on a self inflating mattress from a company called Alpkit (you can only buy direct from them) they are well made a considerably cheaper than other brands who supply similar quality of mats. Me and My OH have one each which we cover in a double sheet to keep them together. I find a self inflated mattress that has a puncture which you can't fix is still sleepable on but a night on a flat air mattress it a different story!

If you choose air mattress I recommend buying a cheap foam mat to put underneath to insulate you from the cold. And buy extra bungs in case you loose one and a repair kit in case it breaks, don't forget the airbed pump!

On the subject of sleeping bags, if like me you get cold a double sleeping bag may not be the best idea as with two people sharing the cold air has more chances of getting in, if you do feel the cold go for mummy style, if you are only planning summer trips buy a cheaper bag and take a blanket. If you buy a sleeping bag and find you are still cold try a sleeping bag liner as this will make it warmer. Defo take P.J's and warm ones too, I quite often sleep in my thermal undies.

Buy a repair kit if you tent doesn't come with one and take a roll of duct tape to temp repair fiber poles if they split (you can also get replacement poles, be aware they may need to be cut down to the right size for your tent (having done this the wrong way, I recommend strongly you cut your poles before you go away on your trip!). Dont forget the pegs! If you enjoy camping but are getting fed up with bending your pegs invest in some rock pegs (saved many arguments with old OH) they are brilliant highly recommend.

We have three cool bags a big one, a smaller one (which we put inside the big one for extra insulation) and a rucksac one for picnics during the day. I have ice blocks that I have named with a corrector fluid pen (it has lasted for years). It is a good idea to take some plastic bags and a permanent marker as some sites have a communal fridge and its the best way to mark your food items.

Easy food is defo the way forward especially if you haven't been camping before, it is traditional in our family that the first night supper is pasta (don't forget to take something to strain your pasta)and sauce cause it is quick and simple. Anything in tins (as long as you remember a tin opener!) is also good and if going for the weekend frozen precooked meals such as chilli can work to keep things cold in your cool bag and be a quick and simple supper. Think about how many pots and pans you need to cook your dinner compared with how hobs you have (we only have one!).

Other food items to consider, oil (we forgot to take some on our last trip, oops), All in one coffee sachets (in case you forget the milk), herbal tea (ditto if you forget the milk), packets of tommy K, brown sauce and mayo pilfered from a local eating establishment, an all in one box risotto kit.

Having used all kinds of water carriers I recommend the square plastic jerry can style ones which come with a tap attachment, they last longer and are easier to pour from and are less likely to have that horrid plastic taste compared with the soft fold able carriers. A large thermos plus one water bottle per person is also useful when weather is hot.

Don't bother with the traditional metal camping cups bring a china one, they keep warmer for longer and are more pleasant to drink from.

Take croc's or flip flops for the shower as you may need to wear them whilst in the shower. make sure you have a bag to take to the shower so you can hang it up on a hook and keep all you clothes off of the potentially wet floor.

Fold able crates can be great for storing things in to whilst away. And cheap towels are a god send if you have a wet weekend (mine a brown from poundland they never miss a trip). I also recommend a 'camping box with all the essentials in the garage/loft/cupboard, means you have less to think about you can chuck it in the car and go.

Another recommendation is to buy or make a footprint for your tent, it is basically a tarp cut to the size of your tent which will keep the bottom of your tent clean and make it easier to fold your tent up and stop it from getting it filthy when rolling it up in a muddy field at the end of your trip. Once you've put the tent away you can fold the footprint muddy sides together and worry about cleaning it when you get home. Many Tents have footprints you can buy in addition to you tent but you can also go into your local builders merchants and buy a tarp and cut it to your needs (it must not stick out from underneath your tent or it will collect water, cut it slightly smaller).

ukcampsite has a list of camping essentials and user reviews on loads of campsites, other websites are available (pitchup is also quite good).

Phew, I hope that this essay is helpful.

Enjoy your camp trips.

F&T x

Furball Thu 01-Aug-13 19:01:47

Those bag for lifes from Morrisons/Sainsburys etc are good as they are waterproof, so handy in the shower if the floor or shelf is wet and stand up on their own so make good storage bags as well. I don't think you can have enough of them

Cheese and onion smash (don't knock it!) is a good by-stander with bangers and beans if there's no fresh bread for hot dogs.

cold quick cook spagetti twirls are good as well, with a tin of tuna, tin of sweetcorn, tomato, cucumber and a dollop of mayo topped with grated cheese.

Get a decent tin opener, nothing worse than wrestling with a tin cos the tin openers duff.

Also might be worth packing toilet roll, just incase. I use the boxes. they don't up a lot of room or become unravelled

Another one for the instant cous cous sachets. Mainstay of our camping adventures - hot and dead easy!

goonIcantakeit Thu 01-Aug-13 19:39:30

This thread is almost tempting me to have another go.
A question -can I buy a replacement for one of the two main poles (the ones that cross to form the roof?). One of ours is partly broken. I imagine you could buy just one broken bit but I don't know how to thread it back on.....

BOF Thu 01-Aug-13 19:59:46

I'm exhausted just reading this (quite why I am, I don't know, as I would sooner orbit the moon than go camping)- don't you need a small lorry to take all that stuff? grin

faithfulandtruthful Thu 01-Aug-13 20:00:01

goon if you have fiberglass poles yes, not so sure on the metal ones (not an expert) if you go into a camping shop (I recommend taking your poles) find the right width pole, measure and cut it to size, we used a hacksaw and then a bit of sand paper to hone the rough edges. Fibre glass is a real bugger and can irritate the skin so wear gloves if you don't want irritated skin for days after.

Take the poles with the broken section in choose the end with the least poles to remove (before you get to the broken one). With the poles collapsed take the end one, from the end with the elastic(attached to the next pole)and pull (from the other poles) to get some slack and feed the slack through to other end of the pole until the knot appears alternatively get some point nosed plyers/tweezers and fish out the end, there may be a washer also. The knot needs to be undone then holding the elastic at the opposite end of each section slowly un-thread the poles and put them on the ground in the order and orientation you took them from the elastic. This is easier with two people.

Once you have removed the broken pole start to feed the elastic back through each section, making sure not to let go of the elastic at any time. In the past I have used wire to help with the threading process when you get to the end pole tie a good knot and hey presto! (may take longer in Real life!)

Hope this makes sense and makes you want to give it a go. I have changed at least 10 pole sections and you certainly become expert after a short while.

F&T x

KevinFoley Thu 01-Aug-13 20:04:19

Get a trailer tent or folding camper, then you don't have so much stuff to pack.

Make sure you get canvas/polycotton/cotton or the new special acrylic, polyester tents are vile to sleep in, all that rustling and overheating.

goonIcantakeit Thu 01-Aug-13 20:26:11

Sounds scary can i buy replacement poles?

FairyTrain Thu 01-Aug-13 20:32:29

BOF have to agree with you 100%, not sure why I have read the whole thread confused!

UptoapointLordCopper Thu 01-Aug-13 21:02:32

Instant couscous sachet confused Aren't all couscous more or less instant?

JillinSwindon Thu 01-Aug-13 21:38:16

Ooh I don't agree with not taking under-fives! I have photos of myself as an infant being bathed in the middle of a Welsh field. And we took our three children when they were tiny and we usually had a great time.
As well as a good blow-up mattress (liloes don't take up much space) my particular tip is to take extra bedcovers, or a warm jumper and socks to wear in bed. It can be surprisingly cold in a tent at night, and miserable when you can't get warm.

DownyEmerald Thu 01-Aug-13 22:49:56

Sacrificial towels.

(Towels you don't care if they are killed by mud/wet/more mud/more wet/oil).

DownyEmerald Thu 01-Aug-13 22:50:35

Risotto pronto - add some smoke sausage, few more veg maybe. Fab.

MJP1 Thu 01-Aug-13 23:02:33

Take head torches so you can be hands free when scrabbleing around in the bushes trying to have a wee, if you are camped miles away from the facilities.

UterusUterusGhali Fri 02-Aug-13 00:21:30

Love sacrificial towels! Great name for them!

One little thing that has changed my camping life;
cropped pj bottoms.
Prevents that horrible getting into bed with wet trews after a 4am pee.

UterusUterusGhali Fri 02-Aug-13 00:22:39

From dew I mean. Not that I routinely piss on myself*.

*I do. blush

shewhowines Fri 02-Aug-13 00:57:43

Put toothbrushes and toothpaste in a mug and carry them over to clean teeth. You don't have to put them down on manky surfaces and can leave them to go to the loo. You can then store them in the mug in the tent.

Snoot Fri 02-Aug-13 01:33:59

As to why anybody would bother to camp, try £15 per night for 2 adults, 2 children & 2 dogs in peak-season Cornwall. That's why!

bedhaven Fri 02-Aug-13 05:39:17

I'm fairly novice but have been using close to home weekends to hone my needs and wants with DH, DD 2.5 and DS 11 months.

Bell tent- canvas definitely rules for me, the light, the space, the zip up sides, being able to erect or take down with one person even if only parts has proven useful with littlies.

Ready made pot of stew for first night so dinner is instant, then barbeques, instant noodles and veg, M&S tins, so far liked the chicken tikka and laksa with micro rice heated with a few spoons of water in a pan or noodles. I've just discovered Simon Rimmers range of dried falafel mix and potato cakes to try, very compact and light to pack as is flavoured cous cous.

One of those coloured big bucket/ garden trugs, big enough for DD to sit in and bath or cool down, may also be used for washing up and quite a handy carry all.

Cooks blow torch for lighting fires and barbeques- so easy!

Muddy puddle waterproofs for the kids, Dd in dungarees +/- coat, DS all in one, then they can sit down or crawl without getting wet.

Fold up high chair with tray for DS, to contain and encourage eating rather than sitting on of food.

Sleeping on air bed, pumped up hard with a 10cm self inflating mattress, held on with a mattress protector and sheet, duvet and cushions as pillows

Pull along garden truck, wooden sides on metal base with pump up tyres. Expensive but great for carrying equipment, children, water and dismantles for transporting.

Things I wish for, a canvas awning, a better cool box either powered or pretty impressed with the igloo. A bell tent chandelier, rechargeable air pump. More space in the car, we currently have the tent in the back foot wells as kids legs don't reach that far. Undecided if a trailer or roof box would be best.

shewhowines Fri 02-Aug-13 08:02:04

We borrowed a trailer once. Very difficult to reverse and we worried about leaving it on a stop off on the way back, as it would have been easy to break in to. Roof box fab.

Only benefit to trailer is, if you can store it with your camping equipment in it. That would save loads of time and energy packing for each trip.

nestee Fri 02-Aug-13 08:55:59

Goon yes you can buy replacement poles and if you have a good camping shop they will also rethread a pole for you.

pussycatwillum Fri 02-Aug-13 09:01:53

goonicantakeit we used duct tape to mend one of our broekn poles and it lasted for quite a few camps afterwards. In fact I would add duct tape to my list of essentials.
If your tent has an optional carpet, buy one. Makes it feel warmer and protects tent floor from damage.
Plastic backed picnic rugs under the inflatable mattress makes it warmer.
Reading this makes me realise that different people have different standards. We never had electric hook up, whereas some people can't cope without.
Can I just ask, if you have a bucket for wee where do you keep it?And how do you make sure no-one (it would be me) knocks it over in the night? Years of camping and we always trotted across the field in the night, although DH has been known to avail himself of a handy hedge now and again.

SusannahL Fri 02-Aug-13 10:35:15

My tip would be to make sure you insist on eating out every evening otherwise it just won't be a holiday for you.

If you are not careful you will end up doing the same as you do at home, but in different surroundings!

Men don't always seem to appreciate that fact!!

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