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First camping trip was I give up or try again?

(49 Posts)
bobblypop Fri 16-Aug-13 20:19:48

just heading back from first proper family camping trip and it was grim. apart from first day it poured with rain and howled with wind endlessly.
I am however thinking that I may like to try again (once I've had about 2 years of therapy maybe to recover!) am reflecting on how I could improve things ...(apart from the weather!)
Firstly we nerd a much bigger tent.there are 8 of us (me,dh and 6dc) and 2 dogs and our 8 man tent is too small!
Next we need a trailer so we can fit stuff in car and bring enough clothes!
then, although the site we were on was nice in that it was quiet with room for kids to play we need to make sure there are washing machines and dryers on site and maybe a shop, and a bar and slightly less basic toilet/shower I think to keep everyone happy.
we all need better sleeping bags and mats/camp needs.
We need an electric cool box or mini fridge, more lights and maybe a fan heater...

so now again I'm wondering is it really worth it....

anyone hated their first trip and ended up converted? What lessons have you learned along the way?

WhoNickedMyName Fri 16-Aug-13 20:28:56

I hated our first trip.

The things I learned were that you need a bigger berth tent than the amount of people using it. There were 3 of us and we ended up with a 5 berth tent which was ideal. If there are 8 of you, I'd say you need a 12 berth tent.

Electric hook up made for a much better experience. We bought a heater, could plug in a radio and have some decent lighting, making cold wet evenings in the tent much more enjoyable.

We have a strict criteria for a 'long stay' trip. For 2 nights I'm happy to be on a basic site. Any longer and the site must have amazing showers and toilets, laundry facilities, a bar and restaurant on site or a nice pub that does food nearby, and must be near a supermarket.


Mum2Fergus Fri 16-Aug-13 20:31:38

First time I went camping with DP I hated, I'm a convert! Stick at it, but pace yourself in terms of what you're buying. Have another few trips and think where to best invest your money...

WhoNickedMyName Fri 16-Aug-13 20:32:23

Having re read your OP you've basically already discovered everything I've listed for yourself anyway grin.

Don't give up just yet, with each trip you end up buying a few more necessary things to make it that bit more comfortable.

And then, if you're like us, you sell the lot and buy a caravan instead

bobblypop Fri 16-Aug-13 20:33:01

Thanks who. Think you are right on both counts. we went for a week but only lasted 5 days ! definitely needed more /better facilities on site.there was one shower and 3 toilets and nothing else, plus 30 min drive to nearest supermarket...not good! well do some research on bigger tents...

LazyMonkeyButler Fri 16-Aug-13 20:35:09

We have only been camping once. To be fair, the site was lovely. A nice, modern toilet & shower block. A small launderette. A bar. A games room with arcade machines, table tennis etc. A hot food van that appeared as if by magic every breakfast time, selling great bacon & mushroom baps.

BUT, we went on the wettest week imaginable. We could feel the ground beneath the tent turn to mud. Each squelch was grim. In a tent, you can't really escape the weather sad. We may try again in a couple of years - but we may not!

capitola Fri 16-Aug-13 20:41:06

God, 8 of you and 2 dogs!

We are half hearted campers, we do a long weekend once a year with lots of friends and their children. We have an enormous tent that in the rain, accommodated 23 for an evening, complete with chairs! Despite huge tent, we're a bit rubbish at camping. I have noticed the 'proper' campers seem very organised and have all the accoutrements, whereas we rock up and throw all our clothes into a heap in the middle of the tent.

We have been doing this weekend for about 6 years, but I still don't 'get' camping and the thought of doing it for more than 3 nights makes me want to cry. It's all a bit like hard work.

chocolatespiders Fri 16-Aug-13 20:42:59

Where did you go? How far are you from Norfolk?

chocolatespiders Fri 16-Aug-13 20:44:47

* whereas we rock up and throw all our clothes into a heap in the middle of the tent*.

this is us!!! or everything stuffed into Ikea big blue bags

SizzleSazz Fri 16-Aug-13 20:46:13

You need Europe, 30+ degree heat, extra thick thermarests and a fridge. Then camping is amazing, I promise only way I will do it grin

ILoveAFullFridge Fri 16-Aug-13 20:56:06

You need a tent with a big 'living room' and a generous porch. That way you've got room to play, read, eat, slob out etc if weather is awful. We have a shoes-off rule in the tent, all footwear left in porch. We also bring a very basic laundry airer for wet coats.

I find that dropping my standards makes for a much happier camping trip. The dc wear shirts and t-shirts/fleeces/raincoats, and run around barefoot most of the time. Skin dries much faster than cloth. Flip flops/clogs live in the porch for midnight dashes, together with my lidded bucket (I do not do midnight dashes). The dc tend to wear the same 'grubbies' on-site for several days and change to cleaner clothes for off-site activities.

Teeth can be brushed and hands and faces washed with a cup of water by the tent if you don't want to go to the shower block, and a swim counts as a shower.

Electric hook-up makes life soooo much easier. Plus a set if folding crates to chuck things in, so that the 'living room' retains a semblance of order.

I have learned that the only things worth fussing about ate keeping the inside of the tent dry, and my bucket.

I did the camping thing in my 20s. It was huge fun. I did wild camping - non of this namby-pamby shower blocks and washing up sinks and washing machines and ice block freezers and electric hook up! Thank you very much. Done and dusted. I'll stick to 5* hotels now.

Yeah, right.

4yoniD Fri 16-Aug-13 21:01:34

Before we committed to spending millions hundreds, I did a couple of short camping trips with everything borrowed and rented. I hated it all. There was the tent with no floor, so sleeping straight on grass waiting for wildlife to come and join us, I refused to sleep in the tent which you had to crawl into, plus uncomfortable beds and sooooo cold. Plus 2 car trips as we couldn't fit it all in.

Then I spent roughly: tent £300, beds (4) £120, roof box £150, odds and ends maybe £100 so under £600, I think, and have camped twice (a few days and one week) and loved it. We keep talking about where to go next year, now.

We have a 6 man tent for 2 adults and 2 small children, with just enough room. I don't know how you managed to fit everyone in an 8 man!

Mum2Fergus Fri 16-Aug-13 21:03:17

Lol at FullFridge...reminded me of talking to DP about our 'wild camping' when he dug out a picture of him and his bro camping under a tarp strung between 2 trees complete with gun to keep the bears away (Canada)...I thought wild was coping without my straightness for a weekend lol smile

Mum2Fergus Fri 16-Aug-13 21:03:44


NaiceHamIsNaice Fri 16-Aug-13 21:04:41

Go for max 2 nights
THe weather forecast has to be great

GinGirl Fri 16-Aug-13 21:14:08

We check the forecast on Thursday and then go Fri/Sat nights if it is okay/good.
No shoes on in the tent.
I need good showers, washing up facilities etc.
If only going for 2 nights, can do without laundry. But take 4 changes of clothes per child for 2 night stay. No denim, leggings/tunics/shorts all dry quicker than jeans.
Go with friends, take plenty of alcohol!

And finally... based on our most recent trip, try to be within 10minute walk of a Waitrose! Made the whole thing so civilised!

NaiceHamIsNaice Fri 16-Aug-13 21:16:35

yy no denim.
And some method of easing sleep. Alcohol for me, some, not a huge amount! Earplugs if I know dh will not be using them (so he is able to be alert).
Lots of treats.

bobblypop Fri 16-Aug-13 22:27:04

great tips all.
Have arrived home now and it sooooooo nice! hot showers, dry floors, clean children, happy dogs (even they look relieved to be home!) the whole thing is begining to seem like some terrible distant nightmare LOL I think we may try some shorter trips closer to home (didn't help we travelled 7 hours to Devon LOL) and then review.....
don't mind the dc being gruby too much...the trouble was once everything got damp...(by lunch time on day 2 LOL) nothing got dry...(and dd4 has aspergers with sensory issues and can't tolerate anything wet against her skin!)
in fact we made so many mistakes on this trip that if it was a film you'd all be saying "no one would be mad enough to do that though would they" LOL
and as for straightners...dd1 insisted we had electric hook up so she could bring her straighteners...LOL hmm

DerbyNottsLeicsNightNanny Fri 16-Aug-13 22:39:28

We have camped pretty much every year for past 10yrs for and the thing that makes the difference between having a great/average/shit time for us is without doubt the weather.

Other things that help though are electric hook up, nice toilets/showers, good quality air beds (as big as you can - ours is equivalent size to a king sized bed!), tent as big as poss (we have an 8 berth for 3 of us), let ds stay up late so he sleeps until a reasonable hour in the morning, try to keep inside of tent tidy-ish - this is usually a big fail for us but we did manage it this year & it was much better, room to transport stuff so packing/unpacking isn't as stressful or as much of a balancing act - roof box/trailer etc.

Tommy Fri 16-Aug-13 22:46:59

I love camping but if it's wet, it's blimmin awful sad.

Agree that you need a bigger tent than you think. We have a 6 berth for 5 of us and I'm sure we're going to have to expand as DSs get bigger.

Keep a list (I have a camping notebook!) with what has worked and what we need each time we go.

Rhienne Fri 16-Aug-13 22:48:00

Wow! Sounds like you can count yourselves well up in the camping karma stakes, and are due some good experiences! smile

Tent sizes are calculated on "you can just (about) squeeze this many people in if they are really good friends, and have absolutely no luggage". So for eight people plus gear plus animals, definitely look at those classes for 12 or more. Or a couple of 6 man tents, as bigger spaces are colder, smaller get warmer.

There is absolutely no shame in moving back to civilisation when the weather is lousy. If you're camping for fun, it should be fun. Insisting on staying when you're wet and cold is for sadists (imho). Try again when the weather is nice.

I did quite a lot of camping in my teens/early 20s and was happy to take just hike gear, and put up with the minimalism. These days, for myself and because we have DCs, I insist on decent size tent (enough so I can throw stuff around and still get into bed without having to tidy up), decent mattress, and comfy chairs etc.

Hope you give it another try. Good luck!

ravenAK Fri 16-Aug-13 22:58:58

Don't even bother if crap weather unless everyone in the family enjoys being a hardcore gung ho type, or some wingeing git (yes dh, looking at you!) will bring everyone down, man.

Start with one night excursions - no more than a couple of hours drive from home so you can throw everything into the car & be in hot shower at home by 10am next day if need be. Build up gradually to long weekends before attempting an actual camping 'holiday'.

Don't fanny about with mats, blow up mattresses etc to sleep on. You will only be 1% less stiff the next morning than if you'd spent the night in a sleeping bag on the groundsheet.

Pack far more lightweight, quick to dry clothes - leggings, t-shirts, shorts, fleeces - than you expect to need.

Buy cheap gear (or borrow it) until you definitely know you like camping. Much easier to laugh off a truly miserable weekend in the Lakes/Norfolk/Highlands etc if you only spent £100 on a couple of cheap dome tents which can now be cheerfully given away or kept for kids messing about in the garden.

Don't go with people you absolutely shouldn't fall out with eg. in-laws, siblings or your best mate. Much better to camp with casual friends with dc the same age. Your respective dc will find each other more interesting if they don't hang out regularly, & by the end of the weekend you'll definitely know if you want to keep in touch with the grownups...

Lancelottie Fri 16-Aug-13 23:06:50

No mats??? Are you mad, Raven? The mat is the essential bit, especially if camping at 7 months pregnant OK that was only once.

Lancelottie Fri 16-Aug-13 23:08:06

My top tip would be pup tents for all the children, so the mess and mud stays firmly out of your own living bit. If feeling nice I will allow them in MY tent to eat and play Scrabble for a bit.

ravenAK Fri 16-Aug-13 23:09:30

I honestly don't find they make any noticeable difference!

I know I'm in a minority on this one, but I'd much rather not keep sliding off the bloody thing all night. Once I'm in my sleeping bag I'm always quite comfy - rather have a double bag to wriggle around in than a mat tbh.

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