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First time camper, can I have some reccommendations/ tips please!

(23 Posts)
RedButtonhole Sun 24-May-15 09:34:36

I've decided to take DS camping this summer but the only camping I've done before involved a festival tent and lots of cheap cider ten years ago grin

Am on a budget, but would like a decent 4 man tent and sleeping bags for me and 5yo DS.
Am booking a campsite that offers an electric hook up for campers as its our first time I want things to be as easy as possible till we get the hang of it. Does anyone know how this works?
Plan on taking our little bucket bbq and possibly a very tiny mini fridge to keep milk, butter, sausages in? Is that silly/ not practical? Would a cool box be better, there's a shop on site that I could probably buy ice from to keep it cold.

Any advice would be really appreciated. I have stayed on this site before in static caravan so I know facilities are ok and there will be stuff to entertain DS in the evening when we are not out and about.

T0R1 Sun 24-May-15 11:09:26

How long are you going for? A fridge seems excessive to me but I've only ever camped for a weekend at a time. I'd suggest looking at YHA though if it's longer. We went to one in the Lake District three years running with our son. You can get private rooms.

mugglingalong Sun 24-May-15 11:25:33

I wouldn't worry about a fridge at the moment. We tend to just buy each day. It is also cheaper sometimes not to have electric hook up.

We are trying Lidl sleeping mats which are on offer at the moment, Aldi also have them in this week. For sleeping bags get at least a three season one and bring blankets and pillows.

We have bought the Vango Berkeley 500 but haven't slept in it yet. We tend to like a small dome tent for short breaks as they are easy to put up and take down but quite strong in heavy wind. Our other tent is an Obelisk Alaska which is lovely but enormous and heavy. Look for the Hydrostatic Head (HH). You need one which is at least 3000 if looking for normal tent, higher is better. That is an indication of how waterproof it is. It depends how long you plan to be in the tent and whether you want to eat in it as to whether you need one room or bedroom and living area. You can't cook in the tent so worth bringing waterproof in case it rains or just get takeaways .

Have fun!

RedButtonhole Sun 24-May-15 11:47:38


I agree, a fridge does seem excessive- we will be going for a weekend to begin with but I hope to go more often and for longer as we get the hang of it. My thinking behind the fridge is that it is very tiny and would save me spending more money on a cool box when budget is tight as I have the fridge already, but I really am clueless so will re-think. I know that pitch with electric and without are same price.

There's a shop on the campsite but it is expensive so had planned to take some stuff along as it is quite remote so onsite shop is only option. Planning to have breakfast, then take packed lunch away for the day and make dinner at night time.

Will go and have a nosey round Lidl during the week. I like the idea of having a tent with a porch or luving area bit, may not get used much on our first couple of short trips but would rather not have to upgrade the tent when we start going for longer-will also be camping in Scotland so weather is completely unpredictable and would be helpful so have somewhere to sit and eat/ read etc. if its tipping down.


mugglingalong Sun 24-May-15 12:15:57

grin we've got the small tent because we're going to Scotland! You need one which will perform well in windy weather. Large tunnel tents can catch the wind if pitched in slightly wrong direction. Also if you are planning to wild camp then you want something light to carry and quick and easy to pitch and decamp after. We are using dome tent plus a tarp - which whilst not windproof will give enough shelter to cook under.

We manage in small 5-man tent (2 adults, 3 school age dc) for a week but no longer.

tinkywinkyshandbag Sun 24-May-15 13:40:49

Fridges/electric coolboxes are surprisingly noisy at night as well. I'd suggest to begin with just a couple of camping chairs (Tesco have two for £10 at the moment), you can eat off your laps. A table or something to put a small one burner stove on. Plus obviously beds and bedding. That's about it really. My tent has one "bedroom" and an outside bit that's fine for storage etc and is big enough to sit in in an emergency i.e rain. I find those plastic folding crates very useful. I cook outside. If it's raining I have even cooked breakfast under an umbrella! Or we go to the pub.

RedButtonhole Sun 24-May-15 14:43:30

Will abandon the fridge then- will a bog standard cool box be ok if I have some ice to keep the temperature down?

Not fussed on getting a stove just yet, our bucket bbq should cook us a couple of decent evening meals and will probably have something that doesn't require cooking for breakfast. Happy cooking outside and have done so on the bbq many times so that isn't a problem!

Not after an especially large tent- its unlikely that we'll ever have more than just DS and I sleeping in it but would like to have separate sleeping/ sitting space- I'd like to be able to stay up and relax for a bit once DS is asleep too and have somewhere to dump wet shoes etc so the sleeping area isn't filthy and soaking (we'll be doing lots of walking)

Thanks for the tip about Tesco chairs, will add a couple of those to the list, already have a wee folding table from ikea that will come in usefull for something, happy to eat off laps or put a rug down picnic style.

Beddingwise, was planning on buying some decent sleeping bags and taking extra fleece blankets for extra warmth that we can layer up if necessary but what's best to put underneath?

Gosh I sound totally backward, keep the advice coming, thankyou!

Pointlessfan Mon 25-May-15 21:40:44

We have airbeds, got them fairly cheaply from Argos. The pump runs off the lighter in the car and they inflate in minutes.

TheHelpfulHiker Mon 25-May-15 21:48:35

We usually just use a cool box. If you're taking food (meat) with you then freeze it so it lasts longer and keeps everything else cool. Many campsites also have a freezer for ice blocks. Otherwise it's easier to buy a bit of food everyday. Self inflating mats are good for sleeping on, I've never found an airbed that hasn't deflated at some point in the middle of the night. Check out aldi's middle aisle this week!

hillbilly Tue 26-May-15 00:26:20

I would say that a single burner stove is essential. Only cost about a tenner and perfect for the first cup of tea or coffee in the morning. We love a fire and always cook on it with the aid of a a campfire grill over it - can't link right now but will later. We Have good sleeping bags and SIMs. Hot water bottles help too if it's cold. Cool box rather than fridge too.

RedButtonhole Tue 26-May-15 18:47:30

Can anyone recommend decent SIMs for a low budget? And sleeping bags or where is best to buy from.

My dad has a good size cool box for fishing so I think we are going to borrow that and just freeze large bottles of water to keep it cold but will check if campsite has a freezer too, thanks!

Thanks for the tip about the stove- I hadn't thought about hot drinks and hot water bottles. I was just thinking I could get by on cooking with the bbq But hadn't thought about heating water.

Daisybell1 Tue 26-May-15 21:02:49

I think the Aldi sims are good. I scoured gumtree for sleeping bags and found 2 xl mummy 3 season bags for £15. You need layers underneath you - a foil backed picnic blanket is good and you can get foil blankets from Poundland for £1. B&m bargains had solid fuel stoves for £1 too.

I've bought some instant porridge for our trip on Thursday, I figured I'd be boiling the kettle anyway for tea.

The tent dilemma is a difficult one - it's the balance of space vs ease to put up. Some people swear by a lightweight 3m bell. I went for vintage canvas and have also got a pop up for single nights. A smaller sleeping space will warm up quicker!

RedButtonhole Tue 26-May-15 21:39:41

I don't have an Aldi near me, are they likely to have them in for a while? I'll be passing one on the 8th of June if its worth the wait I could pick them up then.

Poundland is a bit easier to get to, will get some foil blankets whenever I'm there. I have some really cozy fleece blankets that I can layer up with as well. will add an extra picnic blanket to the list as well!

Still haven't decided on a tent, I like the look of some of the Vango ones but they seem huge.

PomBearWithAnOFRS Fri 05-Jun-15 16:01:33

If you're only going for the weekend, separate your bacon and such like into "daily rations" and freeze all but the ones for the first day.
The frozen stuff acts as extra ice packs in the cool box. We've done four days with nothing going off before now using this method. Just only open the box when you must and be as quick as you can.
Unless we have a heatwave of Biblical proportions it'll be fine grin
Take sachets of hot chocolate too, and you can get sachets of coffee with milk and/or sugar already in, so unless you're a tea tank, you can have hot drinks without needing actual milk. Or B&M sell those teeny cafe style catering pots of milk by the tray, and it's all long life.
Take loads of baby wipes, and a tin opener. Don't forget washing up liquid, dishcloth and tea towel, toilet roll (just in case) and loads of black bin bags.
grin Have fun!

twattock Fri 05-Jun-15 16:13:42

Do you need a cool box at all? The insulated bags you can get from Tesco are a lot cheaper than a box. If you get filtered milk, it lasts much longer than normal milk even if not refrigerated

Sobek Thu 11-Jun-15 18:35:28

If you've got electric hook up, you can just take a kettle with you for hot drinks/hot water bottle.

I went camping for the first time last year and had electric hook-up. So I took an electric coolbox which was fab, although a little noisy (I unplugged it at night). If you've got a little fridge, I think you should take it. I bought a large VonShef Multi Cooker which was dirt cheap, but it is huge. I much prefer a cooker that I can plug in rather than messing around with fuel for camping stoves. For this year's camping trip, I've invested in a Remoska which lots of people recommend on here. They cost a fortune from Lakeland, but I just ordered mine from Alzashop in the Czech Republic and it cost half the price!

I need to sort out some decent ear plugs (all the ones I've tried hurt my ears!) and remember to pack the blind folds!

I didn't bother with a sleeping bag for DH and I as find them too constricting...took a duvet. Bought Sims from Aldi and they are fine.

I even took a small electric fan heater for cold evenings and mornings which was brilliant!

Have fun!

Ouchbloodyouch Fri 12-Jun-15 06:42:17

If you have a hook up take a little heater. It makes the world of difference.

Springcleanish Fri 12-Jun-15 07:06:25

For a weekend I'd definitely take the fridge and a kettle. Freeze food before you go, pop in insulated bag and let defrost over weekend. Remember washing up liquid / cloth/ tea towel - we always forget those!
Both my children prefer the foam roll mats to SIM at the moment, they are very cheap.
For tents I'd look at go outdoors, some good deals to be had and staff will advise on easiest to put up etc. We've had a hi gear tent, used regularly for four seasons now and it's still like new. I'd also go for a full height tent, it's a pain scrabbling on hands and knees.
My kids love having their own "pods" to sleep in, and it means I can read in bed late. Definitely get one with an area to sit in, in case the weather is bad.
Take crocs / flip flops/ waterproof coats for toilet runs, head torches are great and good fun, available in 99p store. More warm hoodies than you expect.
Cards to play games with, colouring etc.
Our kids love camping, I bet you'll have a great time.

orangefusion Sat 13-Jun-15 23:11:18

Just in case no one has said this... Hot water bottles. One each for you and the children. Make them before bed, pop them in the beds when you are getting ready for bed and then prepare for a lovely warm night.

FrozenAteMyDaughter Mon 15-Jun-15 12:07:32

If you are still looking for a tent, you could do worse than this one, certainly if money is a factor:

The only thing to be aware of is that the living area is not sewn in (the bedroom is) but we have tents like this and have never had a problem.

MaizieDaiziesxx Tue 16-Jun-15 22:24:39

It might sound really obvious but just in case - if you do use a stove (or fuel other than electricity) make sure it is not in an enclosed space eg your tent or porch - it must be outside, or you can end up with carbon monoxide poisoning.

Quite a lot of food doesn't need refrigeration - I used to get by on dried food (noodles, pot mash) and also things like frankfurters - but I'm not the healthiest person either and didn't have a little one to think of smile it sounds like an awesome trip, enjoy!

munchquinns Thu 09-Jul-15 14:25:31

vango just published a family camping checklist, might help you decide what you need :-)

grmaryp9 Wed 29-Jun-16 06:42:45

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

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