second attempt camping as a family - help this trip go better!

(50 Posts)
hyperhops Sun 10-Aug-14 13:25:08

ok, so last summer we went camping with dc for more or less the first time. It was a disaster. I swore I would never camp again.
We did make a fair few mistakes though! We drove 5 hours to Devon, we went for a week and booked a very basic site. Plus the dogs hated it and drove me mad and it rained NON STOP from the second day onwards.

However we cant afford any other sort of holiday this year and I seem to have booked a campsite again!hmm
I am hoping I have learned form last year and have made some changes accordingly. I love the idea of camping and am desperate for this year to go better.

So what I have changed
1. not going so far! Only 1 1/2 away which means we can a) bring 2 cars and b) come home early more easily if all else fails!
2. Only booked for 4 nights not full week
3.Decided not to take dogs with us - they are going on holiday to my sisters!
4.Booked a site with more facilities. OK, so wont sit well with proper wild campers but last year in 7 days of pouring rain in a (beautiful) field with a portacabin shower and loo and 6 dc and 2 dogs has taught me I need more facilities! Site has cafe and indoor pool - in case of rain!
5.Am packing more clothes. also have put complete outfits in labelled carrier bags for the youngest 3 to save hunting round for clothes. (read this on here - genius!)

ideally we really need a larger tent but cant do that this year.
we have electric hook up and will have electric coolbox.

SO....what would be your other top tips to ensure this goes better....
any little tricks that help things go smoothly...any tips for convincing 14 yr old dd especially who was fully put off by last year!

thank you oh wise mn campers grin

DottyDot Sun 10-Aug-14 15:40:26

that all sounds much better! Does it have wifi (thinking of your dd, obv... grin)?

we've mainly only done a few days at a time, not too far away..

One thing that we did this year that you could think about - ds1 (12) wanted his own one man tent (even though we had a family tent...) - they're not too expensive from Decathlon and he really enjoyed having his own space at night, so it worked for all of us grin. He had his own lantern, was near by and came to join us from breakfast from 8am. So your dd might appreciate her own little one man tent?

CampingClaire Sun 10-Aug-14 16:32:17

My eldest is now out of this 'reluctant camper' stage but I'd second the pop up tent for her. Def worked for the two years we 'dragged' ours around France for a month at a time! I'd like to point out she is nearly 19 now and has chosen to work in a camp in USA this summer where she is sleeping...you guessed it...in at tent!! I always knew she loved it really!!

hyperhops Sun 10-Aug-14 21:23:57

thanks both. I had thought about separate little tent for oldest 2/3 dc...would we need 2 pitches though? may ring and check with campsite.

DS1 (16)is fine. he is an explorer scout , went camping in Russia last year and does d of e etc...so is fine with the whole camping thing...dd1 on the other hand has a melt down if she can't plug her straighteners in or access the internet hmm Anyway, yes there is wifi in reception/cafe area so no doubt dd will spend most her time there!

The little 3 (10,8 and 6) are easier because they just think it is all fun (although even they were losing enthusiasm last year!)
I am also planning days out better this year. easier to plan as we don't have to incorporate the dogs into everything to be fair and I am more vaguely familiar with the area...

I am determined this will be better...dd1 is muttering words of impending doom...hmm

Pixel Sun 10-Aug-14 22:53:40

Make sure you have plenty of blankets etc. Nothing makes a camping trip more miserable than being cold all night. It shouldn't be too bad this time of year but we've occasionally had the odd night where the temp has dropped unexpectedly.
I'm definitely with you on the facilities! We don't go for sites with entertainment etc but lovely clean hot showers are a must.
Campsites seem to vary on charging for extra tents. The one we went to last year didn't charge at all (dd brought a school friend and they had a little two man tent which they loved), another one we go to charges £1 a night for a pup tent.

hyperhops Mon 11-Aug-14 10:01:46

thanks pixel
in my head last year I imagined the dc playing happily on a nice uncrowded field whilst I sat reading my kindle...so we chose a quiet site, in very pretty area with no on site stuff such as shop, cafe etc...
to be fair it was very uncrowded and very pretty. The showers and toilets were very basic though...and I didn't factor in 6 solid days of torrential rain!
The site we are going to this year is a bit more comercialised than ideally I would like - but it does offer some contingency plans for wet days and 6 kids!
I think for future trips I will definitely invest in separate small tent for older dc and will check when booking sites etc..
as we are taking 2 cars this time we will have more room so think we will take lots of extra duvets and blankets etc...another problem last time was being limited as to what we could fit in the car with 6 kids and 2 dogs!!(we do have an 8 seater and did have a roof box but still...)

hyperhops Mon 11-Aug-14 14:15:08

Ok, so talk to me about food...
Am planning on bringing pre made Bolognese, frozen in electric cool box. Was thinking of second night for this..will it be ok?
First night Will east on site at cafe and third night spending day in Scarborough (weather permitting) and Will do fish and chips. Was thinking of bringing slow cooker to heat Bolognese and do pulled pork one night maybe, and porridge for breakfasts possibly...
Also thinking bacon eggs etc for breakfast, maybe pancakes...
As we have electric cool box and more space this year I'm hoping to bring more so I fiend less time trudging round supermarkets!
What do you think?

bumblingbovine49 Mon 11-Aug-14 20:37:46

The key thing is to have days put planned for the rain and most importantly have the right gear. We camped for 10 days a few years back when it was the rainiest August on record. We went out every day and we had waterproofs (including trousers.)which we wore for walks. These really did stop us getting soaked. We did a 5 mile walk in quite heavy rain wearing waterproof jackets and trousers one year and only got a bit damp. I remember it being quite fun actually though we were quite glad to stop in a cafe for lunch (we planned the walk to take in a town where we could stop/visit a museum etc if necessary).

Not having the dogs will help as you will have a wider variety of places you can visit. We spent one rainy day in a massive waterpark./indoor pool area which we found nearby. Really research the area and have at least 3-4 things you can do around the campsite areas if it rains for a few days in a row. The onsite swimming pool is great but 2-3 days of it can get a bit old if it rains a lot. You might need to budget bit for this but you can usually bring picnic lunches etc to save money. With a bit of luck the weather will be better and the planning will be unecessary but it pays to be prepared.

DH always prepares what he calls camp stew for the first night. It is a mix of onions, red lentils, veg, potatoes, tomatoes and some veggie sausages (he doesn't eat meat. Freezes it and then just heats it up on the first night and we eat out of one pan pot bread. We never want to do much after putting up the tent so it saves on washing up etc. We also bring/buy those individual cereal box sets for breakfast. They are a bit more expensive but you pour milk straight inside them (they are lined with plasticky paper so don't leak) and eat with a spoon in the morning Then just throw away the little boxes when empty so almost no washing up for breakfast either!

We don't have an electric cool box (just an old fashioned one with freezer blocks) and stuff keeps frozen for almost a week in it. We do change the freezer blocks each 2 days or so (assuming there is a freezer on site to freeze the blocks) Having more facilities is pretty essential for us, particularly given how much it rains in the summer in the UK.

tealover1985 Mon 11-Aug-14 20:59:31

When we camp: plenty of bacon sandwiches, croissants, brioche for breakfast. Picnic type lunches of nice bread, pate, hummus and soft cheese. For tea disposable bbq if the campsite allows - take marshmallows for toasting kids love this!

tealover1985 Mon 11-Aug-14 21:00:45

Oh yeah and we buy bags of ice from the supermarket so you always have milk that stays fresh enough.

hyperhops Tue 12-Aug-14 09:22:05

thanks both. Some great tips.

will be doing picnic type lunches. Like the ideas of min cereal boxes - just wondering if I can cope with the inevitable arguing between all 6 over who gets which one hmm

and yes to planning more rainy day outings! I have started researching and have some options in the area, am making up little folders with info in - eg sunny days out, rainy days out, places to eat, best beaches etc LOL Budget is limited which doesn't help, but have factored a bit in in case of persistent rain!
I am thinking that the amount of planning and organizing that goes into a camping trip is akin to a full scale military operation! Think I may have under-planned last year! Must say I quite enjoy this sort of thing though LOL (yes I do not get out much and am short of entertainment LOL)grin

Cheebame Tue 12-Aug-14 11:58:33

I agree with bumblingbovine49 - we were supposed to go camping at the end of July (when it was hot and sunny, remember that?) but due to one thing and another we're going next week, when the forecast says it will rain the whole time.

So, my task for today is to make a plan of things to do for each day we are there - obviously if it is nice the plan is to get on the beach. But I'm planning rainy day things whilst I have internet and a printer so I don't have to rely on patchy 3g on my phone and some soggy leaflets whilst DD keeps asking what we are going to do that day smile

May I ask how the heck you fitted everything and everyone in once vehicle last year? I'm fretting about fitting 2 adults, 1 child and no dogs in one car.

hyperhops Tue 12-Aug-14 17:11:20

cheebame It was horrendous trying to fit everything in shock. We do have a citroen c8 (8 seater mpv) and did have a roof box, but even so the kids and dogs were jammed in with "stuff" in every available inch. We also couldn't take as much as I wanted which meant we ran out of clothes etc...the whole thing was a disaster in fact sad blush LOL but this year WILL be better.grin
I am busy printing more info off now for rainy day activities!

Ineedmorepatience Tue 12-Aug-14 19:31:09

If you have electric hook up I would recommend a laptop and some DVD's! Some people might disagree but it can save your sanity on damp evenings if the kids can watch a film. smile

I agree about waterproofs, Decathlon do reasonably priced trousers for kids and they are waterproof. Also if you put the younger children in shorts or cropped trousers it saves the trousers dragging on the floor and getting soggy. Even when it hasnt rained grass can be really wet early in the morning.

Good luck smile

hyperhops Tue 12-Aug-14 20:43:59

Ineed must admit we did take laptop and resort to dvds in the tent one evening last year - it was a life saver. may bring a couple again for emergencies wink
and have some waterproof trousers but don't think all kids have them...will go check!

hyperhops Wed 13-Aug-14 21:35:00

ok.I think I may have become a bit obsessed with planning!hmm
I have a folder. It has sections in for campsite info/sunny days out/beaches/wet days out. I have opening times/addresses/phone numbers and costs noted of various options. I have printed out directions form campsite and maps of car parks in various places we may visit. I have made notes of places to eat in various places (eg fish and chip shops in Scarborough) complete with opening times.

I have created a SPREADSHEET for camping packing. I have begun assembling stuff and checking off on spreadsheet. I have a separate spreadsheet for things still to buy and food shopping.

I am very hopeful that this frenzied planning and organising will mean we will at least have a good time when we get there!!

ThatBloodyWoman Wed 13-Aug-14 21:37:51

Get a gazebo and go by van.
Good coffee in the morning,and a bottle of vino every night does wonders for me.

ThatBloodyWoman Wed 13-Aug-14 21:39:08

I think lightweight easy dry fabric (like sports clothes) can be good for showery weather if its warm.

LadySybilVimes Wed 13-Aug-14 21:43:20

Big fluffy dressing gowns!

No seriously. They are great for keeping warm on an evening and can double up as a pillow or blanket in the night. You can also quickly throw it on for the 4am loo trip. Revolutionised my camping experience did big fluffy dressing gowns. They're even better if they have a hood too.

hyperhops Thu 14-Aug-14 19:09:31

sports wear stuff sounds a good idea actually.
think it's a bit late to invest in a van and awning - we're off on Saturday! (also not sure we'd find one that would fit all 8 of us in!)
but like the idea of big fluffy dressing gowns.....
am in panic now as I've realised I don't own a swimming costume...frantic search in shops tomorrow I think....
am currently out with dd1 ...planning to make big vat of bolognese when I get back home and then freeze. Will also be buying and freezing frubes and milk....and maybe sliced chicken....
still loads of packing to finish, and I'm working tomorrow...it better be worth it!

ThatBloodyWoman Thu 14-Aug-14 19:16:40

It is worth it (but I'm looking at an enormous pile of camping gear in the middle if the frint room waiting to be sorted and put away....groan.....)

heronsfly Thu 14-Aug-14 19:16:53

We went last weekend, had a lovely day on Saturday followed by wine under the stars while dcs ran in and out of tents having a wonderful time.
But then, yet again !!!! torrential rain all night, we stayed dry in our tents but getting up Sunday morning to rain and mud was horrific we were packed and gone by 8.
I'm looking out for a large, solid second hand gazebo, I think we would have stayed if we had somewhere to sit and boil a kettle without being soaked to the skin.

hyperhops Thu 14-Aug-14 19:47:11

heron that is a shame. last year the evening we arrived was lovely...followed by a week of solid rain. It was no fun sad

this year WILL be better LOL

(and in case of rain there is at least a coffee shop on site where I can hide and sob quietly into a nice warm coffee!)

bloody good luck with the putting away. not looking forward to that bit !

ThatBloodyWoman Thu 14-Aug-14 19:55:44

The loft ladder is down -think some of it is imminent....!

It will be fun, you know it will.Just think of 'bad weather' as 'exciting weather' -turns a negative into a positive.

It was exciting having go attach extra ropes to our gazebo in the high winds we had camping last week.....Oh how we laughed grin

BobPatandIgglePiggle Thu 14-Aug-14 20:08:03

Take bags of pennies and teach them to play cards.

Take vodka haribo

Take an empty lenor bottle for middle of the night wees

I pack everything in cheap under bed storage bags (so clothes in one, bedding in one, camping crap in one...) they stack and fold up to nothing when empty so they take up no room.

Enjoy :-)

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