Camping, just me & my 3yo. Any advice?(21 Posts)
I would love to take DS camping this year. I'm a single parent & am quite happy to take him away on my own, but any advice/tips would be much appreciated!
I haven't been camping since I was a teenager so I need to buy all the equipment. I was going to get a one bedroom tent with a big porch, a double air bed that we can share, sleeping bags, a stove, pots & head torches.
Is there anything else I'm going to need? Is it easy to cook with a toddler running around, or should we just eat out?
A tent that is big enough to cook in is really good. And an all-in-one waterproof suit for your 3yo and wellies will mean you can cope with most things. I managed a couple of nights on my own with DCs aged 4 and 1. Also, in my experience airbeds are rubbish for kids under about 8 as they always roll off them. I'd just go for a simple karimat (and an airbed for you as they're much comfier for adults )
I wouldn't cook in a tent, especially with a kid. There's a fire and a carbon monoxide risk.
I would buy a three man/one bedroom tent and go for it! If your DS is used to you cooking at home I reckon he'll happily wait for you to cook on camp.
The only other thing I might think about is what you'll do if you need the loo in the night and your DS is sleeping. You could take a portapotty of some kind? I'd be worried about my three year old waking up and wandering off in a panic.
Or a thermarest? Go outdoors do their own brand for about twenty quid, i think.
definitely need separate bed for 3yo...you get quite severe roll together on an airbed poor little thing may end up a bit squished! My 3 have outwell self inflating mats that they love (although they do slide off them....but they sleep well still!) I've got a camping loo...have to say it is invaluable for if you're a long way from the toilet block. But some people are ok just going in a bush! I've always found cooking fine as kids tend to find other to play with and the cooking is a whole lot less interesting. We take really easy stuff- pasta and sauce/pesto etc. Those travel cups with lids are great for cups of tea in the tent as when it inevitably gets kicked over no one gets scalded and not too much mess. I always find taking pens and paper etc essential in case it rains. About double the amount of socks that you think 3yo will need (cold feet/wet feet) And essentially a tent (big living area good idea) that is easy to put up and down solo or with little help.
We always take duvets, it gets chilly in England even in August. I have found airbeds comfy, we sleep on our sleeping bags, for insulation. And an extra layer on top of pyjamas. Camping is great fun, if you love being outdoors. Camping shops, like go outdoors, have tent displays, so you can get an idea of size. My girls are a teen and a pre-teen so we have no worries about cooking safely, but our stove is on a table and fairly sturdy. Oh, and pancakes with sausages for breakfast is our camping treat.
Thanks everyone! I'm going to go a camping shop at the weekend now & have a look. I'm so excited about taking DS camping. I love it & I know he will!
I didn't realise air beds weren't good for little ones, so that's definitely good to know. I think our first trip will just be one night & not too far from home in case it's a complete disaster!
I used to take my two when they were 18 months and 3 years old and DH was working away. We had brilliant fun, although it is hard work when it rains! I'd recommend an extra pair of wellies in the car plus lots of socks as someone else suggested. We always put duvets between ourselves and the mattresses, remember; one layer below = two on top, and the temperature can drop quite a bit at night.
Humidity and damp can be a problem if you camp near the coast in weather that is hot during the day and cold at night (cold air holds less water than hot air - hence dampness), but other than this we've always been warm and dry. Might be worth getting a pitch with electricity and taking a little fan heater though to blast any damp/cold away before bedtime. Not essential though, children are hardier than you think!
I always kept a list of inexpensive indoor activities for if the weather was bad. Local surestart centres and libraries are also well worth a look.
we gave up on airbeds after our first couple of camping trips.
what we do is put a few selfinflating mats down to cover all the floor. I find it quite comfy and warmer than airbeds.
get thick sleeping bags and plenty of blankets in case dc wriggles out or refuses to get in.
hot water bottle.
get a tent you can get up and down on your own, those pop up tents can be good, but are big when folded.
I have a 5 man tunnel tent that I can put up on my own and I am 5 foot just! I have gone camping with my now 3 year old on my own a few times and my tent has enough room that it doesn't matter when it rains. I always ask to go near the play park.
DS loves sitting and playing in the car while I pitch tent and then helps bang the pegs in. People look well impressed when I get my tent up on my own with a small child
I have a double sleeping bag that we share now and 5 cm double thermarest and DS sleeps like a log. Camping is the only time I get a great lie in.
I also take a portaloo as this makes it much easier for night time and early morning wees especially is you have stayed up listening to music/reading and slugging back a few beers while DS sleeps.
Get an electric hookup for radio and I also take a table top fridge as they are better than a coolbox. Obviously size of car matters and I bought a vauxhall zafira purely so I can fit more camping gear in!
I love it, DS loves it. People will help you and you will be surprised how much if they know you a on your own with a little one. I had people put my tent up around me when it was collapsing in bad, rainy weather. Neither me nor DS had woken and it was 9am!
Never be tempted to put a charcoal barbeque in your tent because of the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Put bells on the zipper of your tent so that if DS wakes early and goes off exploring he will wakr you up.
Lots of clothes (if there is a puddle he will find it)
Don't worry about a porta loo its easier with a boy and mine were always happy to wee in an empty pop bottle!
Make sure he knows what nettles are
He will love it.
Portaloo is for me to save having to get him up when I need a wee in the morning or night.
I took my 3 yr old camping - we shared an air matress - let some of the air out so it's a bit more squidgy and he won't fall out. Practice at home first. A kids beach bucket stood in for the "ensuite" at night! and we didn't do a lot of cooking - takeaway pizza and bread and cheese and fruit sufficed. Separate sleeping bags were important as my ds kicks his off. we also brought pillows and I had the best nights sleep!
I got a great recommendation for using underlay like you're put down under a laminate floor for use under your camping mat - small to pack and very effective.
Decathlon sells pop up tents which literally go up in a few minutes.
Blankets under your mattress make things much warmer at night.
Cook some food before you go to quickly heat up on arrival - pref to eat with bread.
I also highly recommend a Decathlon pop up. They have a sale on some of them at the moment.
Last year DH or I shared a dual chamber double airbed with 3yo DS. We lay on top of sleeping bags and have duvets and fleece blankets over the top. We put a foil-backed picnic blanket underneath the airbed. It was really warm and comfortable.
We take a kampa khazi for midnight wees. It doubles as a stylish coffee table during the day
take either two thermarest/ (copies of ) or a double. Kids take up more space than adults in tents. Waterproof dunagarees are brilliant for dewy mornings. Merino sleep suits help keep them toasty at night. I put mine in lots of breathable layers and then take their duvet so its easy to regulate their temperature. Found it hard to get good sleeping bags for little ones that they won't grow out of quick and duvets make it easier to cuddle them.
I have taken DS camping on my own several times since he was 3.
I small tunnel tent will be easy to put up, or a Decathlon pop-up - if you are close to a Decathlon stire nip along and have a look, as the Sale ones are not online. I wouldn't think you would need one of the bigger ones - we have a pop-up 2SecondsXXlllll like this which have no been discontinued. The newer models of the same size slope down in the bedroom which makes them less flexible, IMO. But some Decathlon stores still have this model v cheap. watching a YouTube video of how to fold it is time well spent
But there are loads of great tent deals in the online suppliers like Stan's Megastore at the moment, and you might see something that suits you better.
I would say pack a couple of folding camp chairs this sort of thing, and a picnic rug which is waterproof on one side. A small folding table is good, too.
We prefer self-inflating mats to air beds, and kids are usually OK on foam roll up mats. DS was always better in a sleeping bag, a duvet would have come off. Neithere of us could sleep if we shared a sleeping bag.
We use the bucket approach to overnight en-suite facilities, or the hedge .option since we mostly camp in woodland sites.
Take wellies or crocs for your DS - things that are easy to slip on and off getting in and out of the tent. And ban both in the sleeping compartment. Wellies are essential for dewey mornings. And either waterproof trousers, or shorts - for the same reasons.
While cooking your option is to involve the child, or hand them your phone with some games on. And take a car-adaptor charger.
Hot water bottles are useful for night time and those flavoured couscous packets are amazing for healthy fastfood, just add boiling water -voila. Also recommend those bug kits with the magnifying glass etc - loads of lovely bugs, flowers leaves etc to hunt for and study. Also good to have spotting books, my dd loves butterflies and beetles in particular. I saw this cool actvity in a book (can't credit it, can't remember who wrote it) where you takd air drying clay and find interesting leaves or seed pods or anything and press it into a ball of it and leave it to dry as a memento of the holiday. They suggested egg sized so you could keep them in an egg box.
A night light for you to read when dc is asleep. I had christmas battery powered lights around the middle pole which were just bright enough to read with and not disturb DC in my bell tent.
Fun toys to share/play with other children close by.
UHT milk and easy non refrigerated food in case you can't get to a shop or don't have electric hook up.
More sleeping bags/duvet than you think - it's freezing in UK.
Puddle boots to get on easily.
Space blankets for layers underneath you.
A dust pan and broom as little ones in and out make a big mess all the time.
I camped by myself a week with a 4 & 5 year old and loved it!
Join the discussion
Please login first.