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?

MinimalistMommi Sat 27-Jul-13 12:43:23

My top, top tip is to make sure you have the most comfortable thing you can sleep on. If you sleep badly you won't enjoy camping so much. If you haven't bought anything yet I recommend at the very least a self inflating mat as they are warm. Getting a proper nights sleep is the key to great camping.

Rather than a modern tent, have you thought about a Bell tent? They are beautiful to camp in and very spacious.

MinimalistMommi Sat 27-Jul-13 12:44:14

Ps: get the self inflating mat as thick as possible and choose a good quality one as you can afford...grin

MinimalistMommi Sat 27-Jul-13 12:44:39

PPS: Take a hot water bottle for each adult...

MinimalistMommi Sat 27-Jul-13 12:45:00

...and an eye mask and emergency foam ear plugs...

Vajazzler Sat 27-Jul-13 13:16:06

My top tip is take as many home comforts as you can fit into your transport. We have a big family (5dc) and our car only fits us so we take dh's van for the equipment. We have an electric hook up cable and always take the toaster microwave and kettle with us. Tea and toast in the morning is fab!
We also pack dc's bikes, duvets, board games, books, duvets, torches for night trips to toilet, crocs, swim stuff, plus the contents of our larder!

Vajazzler Sat 27-Jul-13 13:17:42

Another thing, you'll need to trek to the wash block to do your washing up so take a washing up bowl to carry everything, plus washing up liquid sponge and teatowel.

BikeRunSki Sat 27-Jul-13 13:20:53

Top tip for successful family camping - don't game children under 5.

BikeRunSki Sat 27-Jul-13 13:21:18

Take ! Not game!

troutsprout Sat 27-Jul-13 13:25:59

Flip flops
Thick socks
A comfy chair
A comfy bed
Shared chores ( kids too)

meebles Sat 27-Jul-13 14:21:07

I find a bucket works well for carrying washing up, also for keeping things cool (fill with water and keep in a shady place).
A site that allows fires. I'm currently sitting next to mine at the moment!)

where is the site that won loo of the year?

hotbot Sat 27-Jul-13 15:06:45

Wine, wine, wine
Did I mention wine

CoolStoryBro Sat 27-Jul-13 15:11:57

Last week I would have said mattress topper, duvets, etc etc but I took the kids camping this week and couldn't be bothered to take much so we travelled light. I loved it! Sleeping bags and airbeds are what I'm sticking with now. It was so great to have the campsite up and running in minutes so the kids could go off and play.

Wolfcub Sat 27-Jul-13 17:07:33

The site that won loo of the year (regional award) was Goldensquare in Helmsley.

Good tips so far, keep them coming. I did think about a bell tent Minimalist but the lack of windows is not for me.

rob99 Sat 27-Jul-13 17:20:13

Keep an eye on the weather forecast, if it's rain, don't go. You'll be bloody miserable.

Ineedmorepatience Sat 27-Jul-13 18:02:43

Take some large shopping bags, we use ikea bags. They have many uses : holding dry clothes and towel while you shower especially if there is only one hook on the back of the door, carry beach stuff, shoe bag in tent, carrying washing up, laundry bag and for dirty/damp clothes and towels on the journey home.

Just a few uses and I am sure there are many more smile

Yay to hotwater bottles if you have them and a pair of warm joggers for the evening.

We take playing cards and a few other games for rainy days but mostly we just put our waterproofs on and go out.

Enjoy, I hope you have a great time smile

rocketupbum Sat 27-Jul-13 21:21:58

I would also say our kids always sleep really badly the first night and I forget and think "oh bollocks can't cope with this all week". Then they are so knackered and used to it, they sleep like a dream and it's all fine!! So don't lose hope after 1 night is my top tip.

Ponyphysio Sat 27-Jul-13 22:07:36

take a bathmat to stand on in the shower while you get dried, makes life a lot easier having a bit of dry floor

Wolfcub Sat 27-Jul-13 22:18:35

good thinking on the bathmat and bags. will add those to my list

Furball Mon 29-Jul-13 17:30:49

Also this dish drainer is good for draining the plates when washing up, otherwise they'll just be lying on the wet drainer

chicaguapa Tue 30-Jul-13 13:15:12

Following on from Furball's tip, we have a plastic storage box (used for other things too) that we put the dish drainer into and then stack all the plates, pots etc up in the box. Then we carry that back to the tent to dry in the sun. It saves a tea towel too.

ViviPru Tue 30-Jul-13 14:52:45

We have dedicated camping everything that all just lives in the garage so I don't have to fanny around packing up stuff from the kitchen before we go and redistributing on our return. Literally down to the most mundane item.

YY to sacking it off if the weather forecast is terrible!

Bramblesinforrin Tue 30-Jul-13 15:45:28

We also have a dedicated camping box with all the kitchen gear we need plus our lights and mallet. Then I just throw in clean tea towels and I can lob this, sleeping bags, sims (10cm), tent and folding chairs in car. Also have a gas stove and special camping pans, but you can take kitchen ones.

We camp a lot , so my icey tek comes with me, keeps the food, wine and gin in tins cold.

Yy camp fires ae a bonus, lovely to cook on and to sit by, whiling away the hours.

MarianForrester Tue 30-Jul-13 19:20:04

One thing I read on here really helped us this weekend: buy a cheapie doormat and put just inside tent door. It stops muddy feet spreading muck in tent, and also caught drips of rain before they rolled in.

Also take loads of binbags, far more than you think you'll need, so handy! And warm clothes for night, horrid to sleep if too cold.

Plus wine and cake.

IwishIwasmoreorganised Tue 30-Jul-13 19:23:09

Clothes for warm weather

Clothes for cold weather

Clothes for wet weather



UptoapointLordCopper Tue 30-Jul-13 19:26:13

I read on here that you should have cardboard for your doormat. Then you can just recycle them or bin them when you leave.

DisappointedHorse Tue 30-Jul-13 19:35:07

A gazebo for sitting outside and cooking, it's a godsend when raining. I was camping at the weekend in the storms and a gazebo made it all easy.

See if you can borrow one if you don't have one.

At least 2 lights, one for the kids in the tent, one for you to sit outside with and take to the loo.

Glows sticks. Happy children.

Cook up a chilli or something in advance and reheat it. Microwave rice pouches cook really quickly with some water in a pan, about 5 minutes.

Pillows! Even consider duvets as well if it's cold. It's no fun when you're freezing.

Marshmallows to toast on the fire.

Let your kids play, get filthy and go native while you drink wine!

Have fun, I love camping.

MERLYPUSS Tue 30-Jul-13 20:44:02

Take a dedicated piddle (and all other things nasty) bucket.
A collapsible crate to carry washing up and use as a drainer.
Glow sticks to leave in the central part of the tent to act as a nightlight for kids.
thermal mug.
poundshop tea towels for mopping up/standing on after shower/cleaning spill/binning.

Furball Tue 30-Jul-13 20:58:00

Hot water bottle each as well for if weathers iffy

use cheap foil for putting under camp mat

Long life milk is good for cups of tea and doesn't need chilling until it's open

UterusUterusGhali Tue 30-Jul-13 21:52:35

I love my pop-up laundry basket for camping. Neater than bin bags.

I use a small flexi-trug thingy for washing up stuff.

hazeyjane Wed 31-Jul-13 06:52:52

crocs for the showers
coffee pot
freeze pint cartons of milk to use as ice packs in the cool box
lots of thick socks and bobble hats for evening and morning

Back2Two Wed 31-Jul-13 07:04:35

We just did our first two night camping trip with our 2 dc.
I'm completely converted, we loved it.

Good tips on here. Gazebo very good idea.
We stayed in a bell tent and they are fabulous.

Games, badminton, frisbee, cards, torches, books, radio (battery), pillows, wellies

UterusUterusGhali Wed 31-Jul-13 16:21:54

Best tip I ever read on mn? Freeze a bag of White wine. (from a box)

marzipanned Wed 31-Jul-13 16:59:54


And YY to the suggestion of taking pre-cooked food - I love making campstove pizza, fajitas, etc BUT it's so nice on that first night to have something already whipped up that you can just heat on the stove.

ivykaty44 Wed 31-Jul-13 17:10:58

go abroad for better weather
take a lot of easy food to cook
take electrics
take toweling dressing gown to wear to shower and wear back, stops all the faff about getting changed in a small place and diminishes the que to use the shower
take kettle

Capitola Wed 31-Jul-13 17:20:35

We're half hearted campers. We go for a long weekend every year in a huge group, but hate the actual sleeping in a tent bit.

Frozen box of wine - def going to do that.

I bloody hate air beds. They always partially deflate and dh and I end up in the middle in a heap.

Dressing gown! Why have I never thought of that?

marzipanned Wed 31-Jul-13 17:31:05

Tbh I think you have to pay for decent air beds (though very happy to be corrected!!) We mountaineer so have thermarests which are brilliant but not cheap. But an alternative to airbeds are the foam ridged mats, they might not be quite as comfy but at least they won't deflate in the night...

Prioryfodder Wed 31-Jul-13 17:35:00

Bring a friend who has all the kit and all the knowledge ... That's what I do! Thanks, Helen!

CatsAndTheirPizza Wed 31-Jul-13 18:23:58

Take a pillow, inflatable mat, corkscrew, flip flops the children can kick off so that they don't track mud into the tent. Our youngest was one when we started - a buggy was useful as somewhere safe to keep him while we put the tent up. Citronella tea lights are good after dark, portable potty to avoid night time loo trips.

I third the dedicated camping box in the garage - it has everything we could possibly need in there and just gets stuffed in the car (still takes ages to pack though).

Pillow and duvet (esp. if you are on the larger side!) First time I went camping I got all tangled up in the sleeping bag, now I just take my own duvet!
Something warm to sleep in
Dustpan and brush to sweep out the tent and remove all shoes before entering.

ooh, we have our first family camping trip this weekend. DH and the kids have never been but I did throughout my childhood.

Weather forecast is currently very changeable so wishing and hoping we won't have to cancel or suffer crappy weather.

thefirstmrsrochester Wed 31-Jul-13 19:18:59

More towels than you think you will need.
Ditto clothes and wine.
Midge repellant and citronella candles.
I'm in Scotland right enough.
At some point, when the wine is flowing, the camp fire is burning, the marshmallows are toasting and the sun is setting, canvas life is beautiful.

Plus3 Wed 31-Jul-13 19:37:37

Watching with interest - taking children for 1st proper camping trip next week! (We have only really slept in tents in gardens until now...)

littlestgirlguide Wed 31-Jul-13 19:44:41

I'm a Guide leader and have camped with my DD since she was a few months old. Absolute,y fine with littlies. Take them what they sleep in at home (duvet, pillows) and an air bed, loads of blankets and toys and it will be fine.

whereismytoenail Wed 31-Jul-13 19:44:54

I only have tips not to do after my 1st camping trip last week

Dont go camping if you have eczema and its sore sad

Dont have a practice of putting your tent up for the 1st time in the garden , then your cats running over it through the night , to discover when torrential rain starts and lasts all night that there is lots of little holes all over your tent

Dont let you 3 year old DS push another child in a river

nkf Wed 31-Jul-13 19:45:15

Hot weather.

thefirstmrsrochester Wed 31-Jul-13 19:47:14

Oooooh....for best ever poached eggs (stolen from masterchef australia), wee scoot of cooking oil in a cheapo sandwich bag, crack egg into bag, tie knot in bag eliminating most of the air, into pan of boiling water, wait a couple minutes before retrieving the bag, snipping it open et voila, perfect poached egg, and no cleaning of saucepan required!

MrsMc82 Wed 31-Jul-13 20:14:35

God am missing camping - spd & sleeping on the floor not the best combination.....

I think that the important thing to remembered is that stuff, all stuff, takes longer when camping so just relax into the pace as soon as you get to site and enjoy - I might be (AM) quite highly strung so it took me a while to work this one out and there was quite a memorable moment when I threw a tent peg at dh cos I was so frustrated by how slowly he was making my coffee! !!!!!

Wolfcub Wed 31-Jul-13 20:26:37

great tips so far. I love the idea og freezing a bag of wine.

Back2Two Wed 31-Jul-13 21:34:10

The weather is obvs crucial, but, on our trip we had some heavy rain and the boys just loved it. We just lay in our beds with the radio on and listened to thunder.

Goldmandra Wed 31-Jul-13 21:44:51

If you're there too long for the wine to stay frozen have a coolbox rather than a bag and fill it with a bag of ice from the local supermarket every other day. Brilliant for keeping your wine and beer milk and sausages cold.

Take a couple of extra fleecy blankets to go over anyone who's cold and to sit on in folding chairs in the evening. You can get surprisingly cold sitting drinking wine on a thin sheet of fabric late into the evening.

Get glow-in-the-dark or fluorescent guy ropes (or tie tapes/ribbons to the ones you might trip over) and a few pegs to keep the towels on them while they are drying.

Head torches are great for children who want to read in bed.

Put things away for the night before it gets dark.

Hang something on the tent that makes it really recognisable for the children. You can get flags which work well but anything bright tied to the top will do.

No drinks inside the tent.

Take antibac wipes or baby wipes. Great for cleaning messes of any sort off anything.

Don't forget the mallet for the tent pegs.

UptoapointLordCopper Wed 31-Jul-13 21:58:07

"Get glow-in-the-dark or fluorescent guy ropes" It's no good. Kids will still trip over them. Likewise with stove. Where ever you locate them the bloody kids will decide that that's the best place to play some ball game where you can't catch the ball and you must run towards the stove. hmm

Anyone with tips on how to repel kids from stove and guy ropes short of attaching same-pole magnets on them?

If you're going for airbeds get singles for you and DH so you don't bounce each other when you turn over. Stick a blanket under whatever you sleep on (and in partic if on a thermarest) so you are insulated.

Goldmandra Wed 31-Jul-13 22:08:48

It's no good. Kids will still trip over them.

Very true. Children will also always find the one tent peg not fully buried in the ground with their heads when they do trip.

More visible guy ropes do help adults though, especially once the wine has defrosted and been consumed to prevent it from going off grin

I am afraid we have fairy lights on outside our tent (solar) so we can aim in the right direction when we go for a midnight wander to the loo block!

Goldmandra Wed 31-Jul-13 22:11:49

Anyone with tips on how to repel kids from stove and guy ropes short of attaching same-pole magnets on them?

I find telling them to stay nearby because we're about to eat usually guarantees to keep them as a safe distance.

BTW walkie-talkies are great for finding/communicating with wandering children and they can usually be charged in the car.

UptoapointLordCopper Wed 31-Jul-13 22:20:22

Goldmandra you are a genius. I'll try that.

KnappShappeyShipwright Wed 31-Jul-13 23:31:49

Other than a tent big enough for all of you (good rule of thumb is to add the actual number of people and add 2 or 3 - we're a family of 5 and are comfortable in an 8 berth), I'd suggest adding microfibre cloths to the list to use instead of a teatowel as they dry in no time.

Another suggestion to throw into the mix is trugs - we take 2 small trugs, fill one with dirty washing up and carry to the sinks, use one as a washing up bowl and the other to hold the dry stuff, when you've finished rinse the washing up bowl and put the dry trug inside the wet trug.

Furball Thu 01-Aug-13 06:56:32

A towelling bathmat makes a really good absorbent door mat and can just be chucked in the washer when you get home ready for next time.

FourArms Thu 01-Aug-13 08:29:13

Electric blankets have been life changing for camping this year. Normally I lose a lot of sleep to cold and end up achy & tired. Current set up of campbed / Dozer SIM / elec blanket has sorted that. Too hot for sleeping bag now, so sleep with it opened out.

And the DSs love putting on prewarmed PJs smile

pussycatwillum Thu 01-Aug-13 08:51:18

Wolfcub we've been to Golden Square. We've just sold our tent (Grandparents in our 60s) or we'd be booking to join you wink.

Tigerblue Thu 01-Aug-13 09:20:30

If it's raining, waterproof trainers and plenty of socks. If it's sunny, sun hat and sun lotion.

It's worth taking a couple of small games for fun outside (ball, bowls, swingball, bat and ball) and inside (like cards, paper for hangman, small pocket sized games) which are good if the weather is bad and you're stuck inside the tent.

Keeping warm at night is essential. Take your winter weight pyjamas and have a warm top. If you haven't got sleeping bags, take as many quilts as you can in the car as these can be used underneath and on top. Airbeds are good as they get you off the cold ground.

If rain is forecast, a couple of coat hangers are helpful as you can hand wet coats from these in the tent/car rather than have them on the back of chairs.

Foodwise, I take cereal and longlife milk, crossiants, quiche, prepared salad, cans of tuna and baked beans, as well as flavoured coucous which you can just add water to. The key is keeping it simple.

I have to say I didn't enjoy my first camping trips much, but we worked out what we really needed to take camping and got a better tent, and now nine years later we love it. Have done three short camping trips already this year and have another one coming up. Have fun.

TheSecondComing Thu 01-Aug-13 09:54:23

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

GladitsnotJustMe Thu 01-Aug-13 10:58:41

I second the pre-made meal to take for the first night. I usually do this with a Spag bol / chilli / curry that you can just add to some rice or pasta.

I also pre-make something and freeze it, helps keep stuff cold on first day then it's good for the second day.

We swear by those sachets of Latte or hot chocolate - just add boiling water and they're lovely.

Sandwich wraps can be rolled up and frozen - take up less space than a loaf of bread and will last longer.

Tinned rice pudding - dead easy to heat up, lovely and warming on a cold evening. Add to it one of those single portions of jam in a sachet that you get steal from hotels and it's yummy!

SuddenlySqueamish Thu 01-Aug-13 11:53:54

Take fewer clothes than you think you'll need except pants and socks, take lots more of those than you think!

Also you can get big incense sticks that stick in the ground, they are amazing for keeping flies away. We just got back from Cornwall and were eaten alive by horseflies before we remembered we still had some incense sticks in the bottom of the camping box from last year, those and a fire when it got to early evening when there are more flies kept us sane and from clawing our skin off.

Also take cold beer/wine in the cool box for when you've finished putting the tent up and settled in. You will definitely have earned it!

shewhowines Thu 01-Aug-13 11:58:31

I was going to say single airbeds to stop the bounce.

Make sure you will not be cold at night. Just a sleeping bag doesn't cut the mustard for me (although milder night at the moment so not so important). I need a sleeeping bag, duvet plus thick jumper and socks,normally.

A childs potty or bucket to avoid the middle of night tramp across wet grass to the loos. I couldn't "do" camping without this.

SuddenlySqueamish Thu 01-Aug-13 12:17:59

Oh yes definitely agree with the single airbeds thing. My DP and I used to have a double but he's a good 3 stone heavier than me and so I used to end up rolling in to him because the bed was lower on his side and would be bounced all over the place whenever he moved! We got singles last year and it's much better!

Also re cold at night, a hat is the single best thing to keep you warm. Even in full clothes, I still get cold without a hat. A simple snug wooly one works best.

pussycatwillum Thu 01-Aug-13 12:19:53

Freeze small bottles of semi skimmed milk to use as icepacks.

Elouie Thu 01-Aug-13 12:43:26

We don't take air beds, but the key to a warm nights sleep is having rubber mats underneath you to insulate you from the ground. You can get roll up mats from camping shops, although we've got some half inch thick mats that OH found somewhere, and I have never had a bad nights sleep.

madhairday Thu 01-Aug-13 14:50:47

Onesies are good for dc at night.

Crocs - take off inside tent.

BABY WIPES - we don't have little ones anymore but get through so many wipes camping - would be lost without them

Disposable BBQs

Lightweight raincoats - we tend to take layers of clothing rather than cold weather clothing as well as summer clothes - so just add fleeces and cardis to the pile of summer stuff.

Definitely thick socks for night, and hot water bottles.

I also like my winter boot slippers on an evening.

Fleece throws a must - good for sitting around in the evening.

Those hangy up things which usually hang underwear from washing lines - hang them from a gazebo/inside the tent with tea towels, cloths, swimming stuff etc. Very handy.

Gas heater is a must for us and makes things cosy at night.

Games, books, colouring stuff etc.

Love the freezing wine idea, we're off on Saturday so will be doing that. We also freeze some bottles of water for the first day, they are great when setting up and having the annual argument

We do cheat a bit though as we have a folding camper rather than a tent. Love the whole thing though.....let's hope for sunshine this week.

Rowlers Thu 01-Aug-13 15:11:26

We have 2 single blow up mattresses which zip together -think it's Campingaz who make them. Here.

charliepop Thu 01-Aug-13 16:22:49

This toaster is fab.

HorseyGirl1 Thu 01-Aug-13 16:38:24

Don't go? :-)

allmycats Thu 01-Aug-13 16:46:59

Good airbeds, own pillow, pee bucket (for in the night) - table/tables for in sitting area of tent. 1 of those camp canvas pantries with hard top for stove. Electric hook up cable and small electric heater/kettle/toaster/light.

Strong pegs/hammer/extra guy ropes

Avoid sites with a 'club house' on like the plague

123rd Thu 01-Aug-13 16:49:12

Defo freeze a chilli or spag Bol sauce and sausage bacon to keep for a bit longer in the freezer bag. (We never have electric hook ups) I always take a little dust pan and brush just to clear out the grass -and ants-each morning. Baby wipes. I also have a little trio of those mini travel bottles into which I put washing up liquid , cooking oil and shampoo/body wash. Also dry shampoo is fab. We picked a a couple of head torches from The Range which are very handy.

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!!

Branleuse Fri 02-Aug-13 10:43:09

futon mattress for the grown ups, even if the kids rough it ;)

noseymcposey Fri 02-Aug-13 12:50:35

Comfort and warmth a priority. I persuaded DP to come camping for the first time a few weeks ago and our 3 night trip was a success. 4 man dome tent for DP, DS (aged 2) and me. We took airbeds, duvets and pillows and were very comfortable.

Tons of layers and/or blankets for sitting outside in the evening and table and chairs.

A windbreak was absolutely essential! We bought one on the second day and were much warmer and more comfortable sitting outside with the windbreak up.

PeppermintPasty Fri 02-Aug-13 13:08:17

I don't think anyone has mentioned the life-saving-no-need-to-go-to-the-smelly-toilet-in-the-middle-of-the-night TRAVEL JOHN!!!!

Behold the website op, and be amazed: www.traveljohn.co.uk

Changed my whole attitude to camping.

Mind you, if you're taking as much wine as has been suggested, your aim might be a bit off, so practice before you go wink

turnipsoup Fri 02-Aug-13 14:37:16

Watching this avidly as I am taking two DSs (3 and 6) camping for two weeks tomorrow on my own, leaving DP to work on house. Eeek.

I would suggest a tupperware box where you keep all the really useful stuff like savlon, matches, suncream lotion, bite spray, pegs, rubber bands, scissors, duct tape, plasters, calpol, string. Ours gets packed at the start of the camping season and replenished at the end of each trip.

MERLYPUSS Fri 02-Aug-13 15:55:24

Keep the wee bucket in the central part of the tent with a glow stick nearby so you can see it. Someone I knew used to put sawdust cat litter in theirs to absorb the wee.

sheridand Fri 02-Aug-13 17:41:09

Onesies for kids.
Earplugs for the twats in the tent next door.
A really long knackering day out so the kids sleep.
Campbeds not airbeds ( my kids slide off airbeds like butter).
A small box of Lego.
And, i know it's awful but: my husband is a caterer, and a selection of his disposable cutlery, plates and bowls always comes with us every year camping so there is NO WASHING UP AT ALL. It's bloody lovely.

sheridand Fri 02-Aug-13 17:45:59

Oooh, and I've always found that a tent in which we are all in the same pod ( ours is a Nevada XL, we all sleep together) is warmer than tents with separate pods.

And it's worth investing in a really GOOD coolbox. As DH is a caterer, we have one that keeps food fridge fresh for a week. It cost about 100 quid, but it was well worth it. It sits there as a fridge all week and we can have yogurts, bacons and so on without hassle. Plus the wine stays cool. The wine is REALLY important.

MinimalistMommi Fri 02-Aug-13 18:56:02

sher what brand is your cool box?

Wolfcub Fri 02-Aug-13 19:24:58

I can see myself making a shopping list from this thread before I head out to wilkos tomorrow morning - key items: sacrificial towels, octopus, bath-door-mat, flip flops, risotto-in-a-box, wine

MinimalistMommi Fri 02-Aug-13 19:26:22

Crocs or fake ones are a MUST for the camping field!
I have a pair of PoundLand flip flops for the camping showers.

Clarella Fri 02-Aug-13 20:15:40


MinimalistMommi Fri 02-Aug-13 20:19:54

Ciarella I have the 5cm Thermarest (Basecamp) and its not quite fat enough for me sad

Clarella Fri 02-Aug-13 20:26:55

two thermarests!

Capitola Fri 02-Aug-13 21:05:10

I have worked out wearing I am going wrong.

Not going for long enough

pussycatwillum Fri 02-Aug-13 21:12:12

Wow. The Traveljohn would have revolutionised my camping experience too. Thanks, Peppermint.

UptoapointLordCopper Fri 02-Aug-13 21:47:38

I bought the traveljohn last year but amazingly haven't used it yet.

PeppermintPasty Fri 02-Aug-13 21:50:45

God I was like a woman possessed peeing into my travel johns last time I went camping.
Did I really just write the above sentence? Ummm....

UptoapointLordCopper Fri 02-Aug-13 21:55:30


ARealDame Fri 02-Aug-13 22:06:25

Portable urine bottle is the way to go! More compact and safer than a bucket (I was always terrified the bucket would fall over). Of course if you have a larger family, you may need something more substantial. I just couldn't bear those trips to the lavatories in the middle of the night.


ARealDame Fri 02-Aug-13 22:07:50

Sorry, I always fail at links sad

Everhopeful Fri 02-Aug-13 23:20:20

Phew. Have been camping for years and managed without most of this stuff, but admittedly we're all warm people by nature. I found taking a fleece nighty in May is handy, but otherwise main problem is keeping cool enough! If you want essentials, most you can get after you arrive. For taking with you:
- mallet for knocking in pegs (some sites you can push the pegs in with your feet, but most this summer will have baked hard. You can nearly always find a flattish rock, but that will knacker your pegs pretty fast and isn't as easy to use anyway)
- duct tape/insulating tape (even new tents sometimes have issues where you don't need them and this is a simple fix to avoid your holiday being spoilt. Also, without wanting to be rude, sometimes things get forced in a bit hard and poles snap (been there), so it's good to have a quick cure)
- managed without sleeping bag liners for years, so not really essential, but give extra warmth if you need it and can be slept in without the bag if you don't. I'm now a convert!
- you don't have to have a fridge or cupboard, but you do need something you can seal (even a coolbag with ice blocks in it will do for a while) to keep wildlife out of your food. It's also nicer not to have to pour butter on your bread in the heat grin though I mostly value Lack of Ants in anything.
- I'm a fan of large plastic bags, lots of uses
- Kids love being given a torch and finding your way to the loo in the dark is more exciting than tedious when you have one

I think what I'm slightly bothered about is that, if you need an artic truck to go camping a) you've kinda missed the point and b) it'll be so stressful to pack/unpack, you'll lose the benefit of a holiday. Won't you? I would anyway. We take loadsastuff nowadays, so I can't say we travel that light, but we don't take all that's been mentioned here and seem to do fine. We'll be doing it again shortly for our second trip of the year (and the main one).

Mumzy Sat 03-Aug-13 09:06:34

Insulated mugs so drinks stay hot and don't spill when dcs knock them over

thermos flask which you fill with hot water at night and can use to make first cup of tea in morning. Lifesaver esp when p*ssing it down when you wake up

Disposable paper plates, cups, bowls to save on washing up (the plastic crockery always seems never to dry and smells of mould)

Marshmallows and wooden barbecue sticks, glow sticks, ball & bats good way for dcs to make friends

Eat out every night or at least other night. Easy stuff for breakfast ie cereal and milk or go to nearest supermarket cafe for bargain fry ups.

Go to bakers daily for fresh pack lunch ingredients and store in cool bags

Loads and loads of towels

Golfing umbrella by tent entrance for rainy trips to loo etc

troutsprout Sat 03-Aug-13 11:26:04

Oh EVER stop being so sensible.... You know you want that snack stand
I mean ... How can you snack

Sahmof3 Sat 03-Aug-13 12:24:09

I'm about to go on my first camping trip and the tips here have been invaluable! Just wondered whether it would be worth buying a chemical loo? Also, I've bought a camping mains hook up lead with RCD and have been told that our European campsite has 3 pin sockets. Does that mean I'll be OK to use my lead without any kind of adapter? Read something about reverse polarity on some European campsites. Would the RCD protect us? Thanks!

Sahmof3 Sat 03-Aug-13 12:39:28

Even though I've never been camping, here are some of the things I'm taking. Tesco has a household section selling loads of usual stuff for £1 (the 'Keep it handy' range). I bought tarpaulin, velcro (in case tent zips fail, to attach sheets to air beds/sims etc as apparently sleeping bags just slip off), rope and sink plugs (I read that these always seem to be missing on campsites). Tesco also sell their own Everyday Value Duct tape for less than £3. I'll be taking a laptop to watch DVDs and a wind up torch with a radio. If cold weather is forecast, the halogen heater will come too! Bought a low wattage travel kettle from Argos for 9.99 and thinking about buying a mini oven (is that totally over the top?). I'm also bringing flip flops for us all to wear in the showers as remember from my days travelling in Asia that it is possible to catch diseases such as hepatitis in showers if you have any small cuts on your feet...so will wear just in case.

All these tips have been fantastic - thank you everyone! I have really enjoyed reading them all. We are hoping to go on our first camping trip soon, once the rain that's been forecast has disappeared.

We have all the gear ready - I was wondering if anyone had any etiquette type tips? Mistakes to avoid? I am clumsy socially at the best of times so am hoping to avoid anything that makes us unpopular with other campers (we already have two children who wake up loudly at 5.30 so possibly not off to a good start blush)

LaGuardia Sat 03-Aug-13 13:25:24

My best tip for camping is to book yourselves into an hotel without delay.

WanderingGecko Sat 03-Aug-13 13:36:48

My parents started taking me camping with them when I was 10 weeks old so I grew up with a love of it and can't wait to be taking my own family. They didn't have a car when I was a baby so it was me on the back of mam's bicycle and the tent on the back of dad's. Both had panniers and, since we live in the Lake District we would head off from home and explore. grin Sister and brother came along and we had to get a car but we went all over Europe camping in the summer hols and those trips taught me a thing or two!

Don't take masses of stuff! You don't need it. But things like having a bowl or bucket to cart stuff up to the washing up spot are great pieces of advice. Don't forget biodegradable washing up liquid etc. Depending on your site it may not drain into the main system but seep into the soil.

Bits and pieces! Lots of us who camp a lot have separate boxes of camping gear ready to pick up and go. But it's always useful to make a list to ensure you pack things like: can opener, corkscrew (!), sugar, salt, matches, torch, etc!

Avoid campsites with hook ups: they can be noisy at night with people watching TV and playing loud music!

Take a bat and ball grin

Waterproof, slip on shoes for trogging across dewy grass and being able to get in and out of easily at the tent door. Don't allow shoes in the tent, it soon gets wet, muddy and full of bits of grass.

I like the self-inflating foam mats (like Thermarest). However, my DH gets a bad back and also gets cold more easily than me, so I've learned the hard way that not everyone takes joy in roughing it as I was brought up to. He also hates being confined in a sleeping bag so we take a lilo, sheet and duvet for hilm hmm ... and pillows!

Waterproofs and a dry bag with a spare set of clothes in...

And don't ever fall asleep with the inner tent pressing against the outer! Once the inside of your tent is wet you won't find it fun!!!

Have a great time grin

SaggyOldClothCatPuss Sat 03-Aug-13 16:42:33

DO NOT walk to the loo at 6.30 am wearing fecking flip flops! You will wake up the entire campsite and everyone will hate you! <<never did find out who it was every morning for a week>> <<bastards>>

Clarella Sat 03-Aug-13 16:46:52

one of the best things I ever did was write a big list. and then whilst on said wet, windy, disastrous camping trip, add all the things I wished I'd taken with me/ emergency buys. and cross off all the unnecessary things. put the amended list in the camping cook set then the NEXT camping trip you are much better prepared. grin

a couple of years ago a very last min decision to go camping with friends saw me rock up with only a tent, wetsuit, duvet, kids surf board, cava and a pot of honey. that particular camping event apparently needed sausages.

(this was pre child I add)

Clarella Sat 03-Aug-13 16:48:06

wellies are always a necessity.

Clarella Sat 03-Aug-13 16:49:51

oh and I always pack clothes in different coloured plastic bags eg all the underwear, all the tops, all the bottoms easier to find in a rush.

Bellbird Sat 03-Aug-13 17:34:51

My fave bit of kit is a camping washing-up bowl with a wire handle that then frees up my hands for carrying dirty saucepans etc. I can do the washing-up in one trip to the communal hot taps, which is great, and I've then got the bowl to carry all my clean (wet) stuff back. Some people use trugs.

I don't waste other people's time and space by doing my drying up at the communal area - my dh does that when I get back to the tent. It gets pretty busy around the hot taps from 7pm onwards, so time your washing-up accordingly!

pussycatwillum Sat 03-Aug-13 18:41:11

Many camping trips and I've never taken wellies or owned a pair of crocs. (Do have flip flops though).
We never had ehu and found that often the non ehu field is quieter, less crowded and has better pitches.
We bought those thin blue ice packs from Dunelm as they take up less room in the cool box. A lot of sites will refreeze ice packs for you. Some charge, some don't. We always buy what we need for the day if weather is hot, but taking ready frozen home-made meals eg spag bol can be useful. I agree with eating out, and if you are near enough to a supermarket a lot of them do good breakfasts, which we have done before.
Make sure you have enough camping gaz and find out in advance where you can get replacements. Some campsites do gas canisters.

UptoapointLordCopper Sat 03-Aug-13 19:34:34

My kids don't get on with wellies either. I always buy them, thinking they are essential, but they are hardly worn. Somehow they always manage. Don't ask me how ... I have fake crocs which I love.

We don't have a proper cool box either - just one of those picnic cool bags. Our fridge is the local shop. wink We use a 1-pint packet of long-life milk a day.

JamJarOfDaffs Sat 03-Aug-13 20:49:57

Am a single mum and took two DCs camping for ten days on my own this year, it was brilliant.

Top tip from experience:

If taking an inflatable mattress, do not forget the stopper that you placed on a high shelf at home to keep it out of the toddler's reach (oops - we slept well on the ground though!)...

JamJarOfDaffs Sat 03-Aug-13 20:50:24

DCs both aged > 5 I should add. They loved it.

Inertia Sat 03-Aug-13 22:05:44

Second the cropped PJs mentioned above- and to be honest cropped trousers/ shorts are a good idea all round. Something like crocs/ birkenstocks are handy for around the site. I take my travel slippers for in the tent.

Cotton sleeping bag liners are handy for extra warmth if it's cold, if it's really hot you can sleep in just the liner or unzip the bag, and it means you only need to wash the liner rather than the whole sleeping bag.

Another vote for the suggestion of keeping camping kit all packed up and ready in the garage if possible. It's worth having a dedicated set of camping cutlery, cooking utensils , scissors etc that stay with it.

Fresh pasta cooks much faster than dried.

It's worth buying a fold-up, hard-topped kitchen cupboard with rigid poles that you can clip the EHU to, and put the toaster and kettle securely on top of.

String and pegs, so you can tie a line between the tent and the car to hang towels etc from.

Take microfibre towels - they dry much much faster than regular towels. We have one each for showers and another one each for the beach.

Kitchen roll comes in handy.

Make sure you watch the video showing how to put the tent up before you use it for the first time.

TiggyD Sat 03-Aug-13 22:08:27

Check weather.
Know when to give up.
Pack stuff in case it's much warmer and colder than you think is possible.
Have some meals ready that can be prepared with zero effort.
Practice in the garden first.

Rockinhippy Sun 04-Aug-13 00:27:50

Definitely good mattresses & bedding,we prefer taking douvets & sheets to skeeping bags, but DCs prefer sleeping bags -

a gazebo is a godsend be it shelter from too hot sun, or rain or communal living room or bar if camping with friends - ours has sides to it & windows & we've had many a great evening huddled up in it gossiping & drinking whilst the DCs sleep on in the tents

Glow sticks & lots of them - especially the ones with attachments so that the can be made into various shapes - these are great for letting the DCs play later, as they often want to do - adults can relax & still be able to keep an eye on the DCs as they can easily be seen

Cartons of juice & breakfast bars - always good first thing on a morning with hungry kids who don't want to wait for breakfast & prefer to play

Freeze some of your drinks & use these to keep other things chilled

Marshmallows & bamboo skewers

Rockinhippy Sun 04-Aug-13 00:44:28

I also recommend having your camping kit packed & ready to go -

we use 2 of those huge zipped laundry type bags - one has all the basics / sleep essentials, bedding, mattresses etc, camping lights etc -

the other has kitchen/cooking equipment - depending on the camping trip you choose if you need both - recently we were at a small local festival - we knew we wouldn't really need to cook, so left that bag behind in favour of eating from site kiosks or a local cafe

Oh & plenty of wet wipes - we do a lot of wild camping - no showers, lucky if you have a loo - these are great for a strip wash

& a portable notebook grill fold up flat' so takes up no room & is great as both a fire pit & for cooking on - even better if you have a couple together smile

LetsFaceTheMusicAndDance Sun 04-Aug-13 10:33:23

Small bucket with lid from camping shop. Double line with the biodegradable bags the council give us for recycling food waste. Add a couple of handfulls of woodchip cat litter (smells lovely and absorbs liquid). This is great for overnight wees. Tie off and bin in the morning.

Pack of paper plates, cups and bowls for when no one could be bothered to do the washing up.

Queen size, double height air bed with proper sheets, pillows and duvet forus and self inflating camping mats for kids (younger bones - they're fine).

Separate tent for kids.

Fridge that runs off electrics or camping gas. (No fridge - no camping smile)

First rule of camping - when you get to the site, have a cold beer from the camping fridge before attemptig to put the tent up - nice and relaxed=fewer hissed instructions and sour faces.

LetsFaceTheMusicAndDance Sun 04-Aug-13 10:47:19

For those of us who spent our holidays camping in the 70s, I recommend 'The Tent, The Bucket and Me' by Emma Kennedy. Hilarious.

curlew Sun 04-Aug-13 10:48:45

Take my dp. He can cook a complete roast dinner on a barbecue and camping stove in a thunderstorm!

ViviPru Sun 04-Aug-13 14:00:50

Seconding Peppermints traveljohn shout. I cannot recommend these godsends enough. You're going to need a tent with a decent separate porch tho for privacy from your DH, what's been seen cannot be unseen, and carefully arranging your nethers into the funnel of a bag of crystals is not something another human needs to witness.

We have a Coleman airbed with two individual inflation chambers within the whole double unit so no rolling into DH, it's absolutely brilliant.

I also highly recommend a long wheelbase VW transporter. Our camping experience improved infinitely once we added this giant cupboard-on-wheels to out kit. We're heading back from a weekend in Shropshire as I type and chucking the soaking outer skin of the tent in the back of the van to worry about later was a blissful experience. It also keeps our tent completely free of crap during the trip.

Other essentials include a DAB radio and lots of batteries. There is no more heavenly way to spend a Saturday afternoon than listening to Gilles Peterson in the sunshine while sipping cider and gazing across the gloaming.

Also, I adore our Retirement Recliners. Forget moon chairs. We're the envy of our pals with our padded garden relaxers. What they lack in the style stakes they make up for in comfort and warmth. Ours go completely horizontal, perfect for afternoon snoozes.

Also, I think I'd find camping a chore without a head-height tent with a massive porch. Once you add comfy seats, DAB and traveljohns to the mix, camping becomes infinitely more enjoyable.

sheridand Sun 04-Aug-13 16:13:57

to the lady who asked about the cooler: it's and igloo one, like this:
http://www.igloocoolers.com/Coolers/All-Coolers/120-Quart-Polar, but it's a catering one, so slighty bigger. Husband got it from a wholesalers of catering equipment. They keep things at a freezable temp for 5 days, fridge temp for 7. It's quite big, but for a weeks worth of food, a bargain. You don't need to biy in anything. And if you camp for longer than a week, you can buy ice from a supermarket, and "ice it up" again, for a further week. It's so nice being able to open a "fridge" on holiday.

TheSunTheMoonTheTruth Sun 04-Aug-13 20:23:17

It's probably too late for my top tip as you have booked your site already.

Open Fire Pit. This, for my own camping experience, is essential. It is what makes camping an experience all of it's own and an experience that I want to repeat. Kids running free for hours, eating food by the fire, toasting marshmallows, then kids asleep while we sit in the darkness, with our lanterns glowing, drinking wine/beer and prodding the fire until the stars are as bright as they can be and the fire has collapsed into embers. That is camping perfection.

Wine. As already mentioned. Or, as DH says...rum.

Duvet, pillows, air mattress.

Swathes. I cannot, simply cannot go camping without my swathe box. It's been the source of many arguments.

TheSunTheMoonTheTruth Sun 04-Aug-13 20:25:53

You will need a good pen-knife. Easy to make new tent pegs or air mattress stoppers if you have one...

Lots and lots of night lights! Aw! I want to go camping now! (I did go onto Dartmoor and have a day camp with a fire and did toast on it, and it is fucking it down now, so not actually horrendously jealous)

kim147 Sun 04-Aug-13 22:00:35

Someone at the weekend had a "fish" box - a polystyrene box. It can insulate things really well so that's on my to buy list.

DS is only child so I think a child friendly site is important - the site I was going to do later this year is very basic but after seeing children this weekend running round in a play area made me realise this is important.

Everhopeful Mon 05-Aug-13 10:31:57

Trout, would it reassure you that we're taking some glow-in-the-dark dragonflies to decorate the tent with this year?! £1 a pop at Poundland, source of much useful camping gear if you don't worry too much how long it'll last. We've had several camping pillows from there too and they last a good 3-4 years, which I reckon is enough for that money.

Sun, mystified and intrigued by the "swathing box". Huh? Whassat?

ViviPru Mon 05-Aug-13 11:40:38

Same, Everhopeful. Even the Googles doesn't seem to know. I have big-time Swathe Box FOMO.

LowLevelWhinging Mon 05-Aug-13 11:42:53

brilliant thread guys, have created an excellent list from it!

kitbit Mon 05-Aug-13 11:44:32

What's a swathe box!
I mightneed to go shopping <checks if anyone has dropped a hat>

TheSunTheMoonTheTruth Mon 05-Aug-13 12:13:51

A box of swathes and pretty things; a box of floatiness to hang around the doors and inside from the middle pole, and over ugly boxes and suitcases. Lots of silky shiny muslin and other material grin It is as essential as the Lighting Box (with solar fairy lights, tealights, lanterns, torches)

TheSunTheMoonTheTruth Mon 05-Aug-13 12:16:19

And you can't google it, as it's my own personal made up swathe box grin but you can easily make up your own grin. It's made up largely from lots of organza and muslin bought for my wedding, recycled for camping. It gently billows in the wind by the entrance to our Soulpad and makes our tent look luxurious! That, and some twinkly mobiles (one with "LOVE" spelt out in colourful glass). Fab!

Wolfcub Mon 05-Aug-13 19:15:46

I think this might be the most expensive thread I've ever started grin

troutsprout Mon 05-Aug-13 19:52:37

<< breathes sigh of relief>>
Ever is pimping her tent ... Everything is ok with the world

ViviPru Mon 05-Aug-13 20:27:38

AH! I SEE! Swathes I geddit now. Our camping set-up is more Lidl than Liberty, swathes of beautiful textiles would look hilarious in our low-rent HiGear tent of unsexiness grin

TheSunTheMoonTheTruth Mon 05-Aug-13 20:38:29

Even 'lowgear' can look luffly with some swathes, fairy lights and twinkly shit! Mine is less Liberty and more scruffy Bedouin!

Inertia Mon 05-Aug-13 20:54:28

Swathed and be-lanterned tent sounds lovely.

Ours is more wipe-clean utilitarian.

Though we do have a sofa.

stickortwist Mon 05-Aug-13 21:08:20

My advice is to not even contemplate camping with small children in the cold wind or rain. We went to the dordogne for the first time this year after 3 wet and windy years in various parts of the uk and it was a complete revelation! No hot water bottles or hat at night... No worries about drying clothes. I can see how camping with dh only in the rain cpuld be fun but it is miserable being sruck with 3 under 8's in a small tent with wind and rain lashing outside.

So from now on i will only camp in either a heat wave or someehere hot and dry.

The only kit i insist on is a proper china cup to have a cup of tea in.... I cant be doing with tea in a melamine/ plastic mug.

Itsnotforsale Mon 05-Aug-13 21:22:04

Paper plates and glasses....no washing up!

burntthedinner Tue 06-Aug-13 01:06:48

Helmsley in August? A Big Yes to hot water bottles and plenty of gas if not allowed a fire to boil a kettle on (to fill them).

If allowed, take a fire pit and find logs which also warms you up in the evenings.

We have a warm bag (shorts, beachy things etc) and a cold bag (warm boots, waterproof jackets, extra blankets, socks, beanie hats) - including each dc - makes it much easier to unpack (as just dump bag in each bedroom).
Good light for the evening - storm lanterns or gas lamp - table and chairs and proper mugs (not tin/plastic).

But the best thing we did for 'happy camping' was buy a seriously good (but pricey) canvas tent with sewn-in groundsheet and 3 season sleeping bags for the dc's. Also camp beds which keeps them warmer as off the ground, with a blanket underneath the sleeping bags. Thats for UK in August - August gets cold at night but there are more shooting stars to look out for.
So many people get put off camping by battling it out in a bit of flimsy nylon under lashing rain and those bendy tent poles collapsing in the wind.

Battery fairy-lights for dc's - v comforting in the dark.
Pitch fairly close to the loos, on level ground with hedge/shelter on one side - but probably 'loo of the year' will have neat level pitches with hedges anyway smile

recall Tue 06-Aug-13 01:51:01

a solar shower bag

I got one for £4 from Go Outdoors. I just fill it and plonk it on the roof of the car. Nice warm water for stuff like washing up, washing hands etc

TheSunTheMoonTheTruth Tue 06-Aug-13 08:03:35

stick that's funny about the teacup. I don't like tea at all, unless it's in a tin cup outside, from water boiled on the open fire! Then it's delicious for some reason.

lucamom Tue 06-Aug-13 12:11:18

Camping right now with 3 kids-decided yesterday to persuade our boys (6 & 4) to wear pyjama pants to bed (the 'older boy' types) as an in case thing. Told them that's what older boys do when they're camping!

Glad we did-both were wet this morning and were so tired they must've slept through wee's (or been too lazy to rouse themselves!)

Usually they're dry at night so we didn't think there'd be any problems with the occasional use (couldn't face wet sleeping bags in the middle if the night!)

pussycatwillum Tue 06-Aug-13 19:03:03

OP I hope you are going to let us know how you got on, and put a review of Golden Square on UK Campsites ;)

Wolfcub Mon 12-Aug-13 19:55:21

I just wanted to say thank you for all the tips. We had a very successful first trip and are really looking forward to our next one. grin

Purplehulk Fri 16-Aug-13 07:44:10

This thread is bloody brilliant!
Thanks thanks

FourArms Fri 16-Aug-13 08:59:38

Glad you had a good time. We've had three sunny camping trips so far this year, which have been blissful in comparison to last years trips which were besieged by severe weather warnings!!

Stomp rocket here
Keeps DC happy for hours

Most tips already been covered but love microfibre towels. Decathlon have them 2 for £15

soverynewtoallthis Sun 06-Oct-13 22:23:30

We too camped this summer for the first time since BC. We also had no choice but to take our two dogs with us...what a state! But fun was had by all, just about including my reluctant OH. Tips: take plenty of games for the kids:swing all was a gd one as was a cricket set, bubbles etc there were so many hours to fill between dawn (gulp) 'til bed (way after dusk!) we got some great tips from campsitechatter.com the best being to wrap cool food in ice packs surrounded by a sleeping bag if the weather is really hot.

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