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Tell me everything about camping with children please!

(46 Posts)
User07 Wed 14-Aug-19 13:18:49

We have never camped as a family. My husband has in the past, I have never. We did want a caravan but feel its a big outlay if we dont like it as a family.
We have 3 young children, 7, 5, 2......
What do we need? We are starting from scratch! We have seen a tent that has inflatables rather than traditional poles which looked good.
Any tips and suggestions please!

heath48 Wed 14-Aug-19 17:39:24

Camped for many years,when our 3 were little.The only piece of advice is make sure you get a big enough tent.

Made the mistake of buying a five berth tent for 5 of us!!! A never to be forgotten disaster of a first family camping trip.Laugh about it now,but it was no fun in Wales and it poured with rain the entire time!

careerchange456 Wed 14-Aug-19 20:16:45

We've just started camping again since having DC (now 4 and 2). We sold our 5 man vango for a 6 man Coleman which we take with a gazebo for all the kitchen/seating stuff. I'd really recommend the Coleman with young kids - blackout bedrooms!! Need I say more! We went for a pole one because we're ok with putting it up but the air ones do look good.

lazylinguist Wed 14-Aug-19 20:29:57

I camped for the very first time aged 36, having always assumed I'd hate camping. Outdoorsy dh persuaded me. I was pregnant and we took 2yo dd. To my amazement I really enjoyed it and we've been often since (dc now 11 and 13). Going again this month.

We have a 6 person tent (large living area and 3 bedroom pods), a plug-in cool box, an ancient 'camping kitchen' (set of light collapsible metal shelves with a double gas burner which sits on top). I have an airbed, dh and the dc have mats. We take a collapsible table and 4 camping chairs. And our large dog!

I love our tent. The living area is big enough to walk around in and to seat all four of us around the table to eat inside if it's raining!

happycamper11 Wed 14-Aug-19 20:43:17

First camping trip just had for me and 3 dc. (My 2 plus dd1's friend) we were fine in a 4 man tent with a large porch I can't imagine it would be a huge amount more of a squash if one child had been an adult . We had 2 camping tables, one for cooking and one for eating. 2 of the single gas burner hobs from go outdoors, (£10 each) one frying pan one saucepan. Blow up beds £8 for a double from go outdoors with a lovely soft topping, sleeping bags with double duvets over (one per 2 people) the little bulb torches for hanging in tent as well as hand torches for going to toilet. 2 things I'd do next time ... gazebo to cook/sit under in rain and a sealed box or food storage unit within a table to protect from the magpies. Oh and don't forget the air pump that runs off the car cigarette lighter. We couldn't have had more fun even though we had thunder, lightening and torrential downpours.. it was warm so not too many soggy clothes. Feel free to ask incase I've missed anything

User07 Wed 14-Aug-19 22:21:10

Ill look at coleman tents, any other tent specific recommendations?

sandyfoot Wed 14-Aug-19 22:41:29

We've done lots of camping with our 2dc, now teenagers. Invested in an inflatable tent eventually and very happy with it. Has withstood all sorts of crappy Scottish weather. When dc's were little we had them in the roll up beds with sleeping bag attached from decathlon with another sleeping bag inside. No need for extra blanket and meant they didn't roll off mattress. They slept brilliantly. Also, tents where the sleeping compartments all across one end and zipped "walls" in between them are great so can sort anything without getting out of your own sleeping bag is a winner.

bangwhistle Wed 14-Aug-19 23:02:18

Were a family of five who started camping last year. We got a vango inflatable 8 man because my husband was obsessed with inflatable tents. Wish we had stuck to a traditional pole tent. It's ok but definitely not easier or quicker to put up or down.

Won't add to everything else but there is a good website I used to refer to when I was getting started it has some great advice! Have fun!

ClosedAuraOpenMind Wed 14-Aug-19 23:13:19

yes to inflatable tent - DH puts our up in 20mins while I unload and DD (8) runs around...

we've got a Berghaus air 4 - but they also come in six and eight person versions. we've also got the extension which is invaluable - extra space and a place to cook under cover if/when it rains

have also found tents with air beams better at staying up in the wind - ours has survived storms! we're on our fourth year camping with it, and it's been really good - we hanker after a polycotton, but this is lower maintenance

Letthemysterybe Wed 14-Aug-19 23:17:13

Have a look on eBay for a second hand tent. Probably lots about at the moment, I
Imagine plenty of people have been put off
Camping after the recent bad weather!

Kaddm Wed 14-Aug-19 23:19:41

Do not camp with 2yo
You will regret it
You will work very hard without the facilities you have at home.

Noloudnoises Thu 15-Aug-19 13:28:03

I'm in the same boat as you @User07. I've found this Facebook group quite useful as every day there is someone that asks the same question as you. The responses are really helpful and I keep adding nuggets of clever info to my list.

User07 Thu 15-Aug-19 17:27:10

Thank you for all the links and suggestions all very useful and we will be looking at everything.

Mummacake Thu 15-Aug-19 17:54:21

Perhaps try camping in a pre-erected tent and see how you get on before paying out for all the stuff that goes with a tent. There's a couple of sites nr the new forest and I'm sure plenty of others around the country. A bit like try before you buy & give you an idea of what you need 😉

tararabumdeay Thu 15-Aug-19 18:11:37

Aww, we had some lovely times camping when the DCs were little. There's even a fabulous camp site just outside London at Picketts Lock.
We'd have a sleepy game of 20 questions as the DCs snuggled up for the night then sit outside with a glass of wine watching the stars and listening to the world go by in the distance.

Top tips:
Paper plates,
Fairy lights,
Don't go to Billing Aquadrome.

Have some great days, take lots of photos. It can even feel cosy and protected in the pouring rain.

Noeyedeerdear Thu 15-Aug-19 19:35:37

Do it! We are new to family camping but have taken our 2 dc (4 & 1) on 2 weekends this year and we're off next weekend too. We've loved it so far! We had a lot of stuff already so haven't really needed to invest but we got:
Cheap 4 man tent - can already see that we're going to outgrow this. It's working well for now though. Having pitches with the car next to it helps as we tend to keep stuff in the boot.
We sleep 1 adult and 1 child on airbeds in each sleeping bit. The airbeds do take up a lot of room but it makes it cosy imo. Brushed cotton fitted double sheets on the airbeds has been a big game changer. Pillows from home, sleeping bags and blankets
Small fold out table for the stove. Bigger camping table to eat at.
Coolbox, plastic plates etc from home. Generally another bag of dry food. 1 breakfast always cereal, brioche rolls/Croissants and fruit, then bacon sandwiches the next day. 1 ring stove thats been with me since 2003! We've just bought a little camping bbq that I'm excited to try, mostly for Marshmallows if I'm honest!
Camping chairs, quick dry towels, 2x washing up bowls. One gets used as a bath as my kids hate showers. Plenty of extra guy rope and pegs to make a washing line.
Entertainment - a tablet with some cbeebies downloaded, only gets used first/last thing to keep them quiet, orchard toys games for the older one and some books, sticker books and aqua doodle mat for the smaller one. Also take bike, doll pushchair, ball, velcro mitt catching game.
Crocs for little feet although going to also take wellies next week as morning dewy grass caught us out going to the showers.
Travel potty with a lid, we had this anyway but its been pretty invaluable!
Big waterproof bag (an old drawstring asics carrier bag) for dirty washing. Lives in the car.
That's it really! We may replace certain things if we decide to camp more often but I really don't feel like you need to spend a lot on the full bells and whistles when you're starting out.
Ps: our kids sleep a lot better in a tent than they do at home!!
Try Catgill Farm near Bolton Abbey for one of your first trips, it's a lovely site with quite a few home comforts available if you want them.

3boysandabump Thu 15-Aug-19 20:17:56

We love camping. My youngest had his first camping trip last year at just 3 weeks old.

Most people have covered the basics but I'd add
Windbreaker does what it says on the tin plus it sections off your pitch for a bit of privacy.
Gazebo of the site allows not all do
B&m do huge electric pans (assuming you're going down the ehu route) it's like a big frying pan you plug in and brilliant for camping.
I also take my slow cooker.
You need a special plug adapter thingy ma jig (😂 sorry I don't know what's it called) to hook up to the electricity

Also saw you mentioned you have a tent but it lets water in. You can get the waterproofing redone

User07 Thu 15-Aug-19 20:19:08

Thanks for the site recommendation. We are getting excited over the idea of camping together. I know the older two boys would just love it. Is september to late in the year for new/inexperienced campers to start?

User07 Thu 15-Aug-19 20:22:55

The reviews say it lets water in...we have yet to try it.
Love the idea of slow cooker and electric pans.

Zuma76 Thu 15-Aug-19 21:12:08

We have an inflatable tent and love it. One person can put it up so quickly. We started with a wonderful massive vango 6 berth poly cotton one, which I love but it literally takes up more than half of our boot and we have a big car. So we have invested in a smaller tent now. September should be ok but be warned it will get very cold at night so furry onesies for the children with thermals and you should also have thermals. Sleeping bags will keep you warmer. We invested in a good deep air bed- like 40cm deep, with its own plug to the mains to pump it up. It’s as good as a bed. The kids don’t care and will sleep anywhere so cheaper ones will do. At least if you go in September there will be sales on camping gear and a lot of good quality stuff on eBay. We love it but almost always go to France because of the facilities and weather.

itsboiledeggsagain Thu 15-Aug-19 21:21:40

Pick your first trip for scheduled dry weather and worry about water another time

Mskatonic Thu 15-Aug-19 21:37:11

We loved camping pre kids and just did our first trip with our just turned 2yr old and 4m baby. We bought an inflatable tent from decathlon with two large bedrooms and a giant living area, it was more expensive than I wanted to go for but we were convinced to go inflatable as one person can put it up while the other occupies the little ones.

We have blow up mattresses and duvets for sleeping, a camping cupboard which was amazing, keeps all the cooking bits and food contained and high enough to stand to prepare food, a table and chairs for eating and games, and a picnic blanket for lying on at the front of the tent.

I would highly recommend a ‘cleaning box’ for washing up, put all your dirty dishes in to carry to the washing up area, couple of tea towels, washing up scrubber soaked in washing up liquid in a plastic sandwich bag, makes tidying up much easier.

TBH the biggest challenge is fitting everything into the car, we have an estate which was filled to the brim, and are strongly considering investing in a roof box, although we will go for the tiniest buggy we can find for next time which will help loads.

Enjoy! We had a great weekend but another night would have moved from ‘nice holiday’ to ‘bit of an ordeal’ as keeping a toddler occupied in the outdoors is still difficult, too young to do nice walks but needed lots of amusing. She also struggled with bedtime although happily slept through in her own tent bedroom once she had fallen asleep. We’re hoping to do little and often rather than a 2 week trip once a year.

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