Are you thinking of holidaying under canvas with the family? When it comes to making childhood memories, camping is the stuff of dreams. The freedom to roam around a campsite, make friends, and enjoy the Great Outdoors in a safe environment allows your children to grow and learn in a way that other holidays just don’t seem to. What’s more, while the children are off playing in the park, the parents can chill out with a glass of wine or two.
There are plenty of advantages to camping holidays: they tend to be much cheaper than a villa or hotel, which means that you can stay longer and treat yourselves to nice meals out. There is also a unique freedom and relaxation to camping. For a start, you are always outside, which means that you will never find yourself cooped up in a hotel room or apartment waiting for the children to go to sleep. In addition, the leisurely pace of camping means that life is just simpler. It may take half an hour to make breakfast, but that’s ok. When you are camping, you can relax and go with the flow free from the worries and stresses of everyday life.
Try a little glamping
With the rise in popularity of camping, glamping is now very much a “thing”. This comes in a number of guises: DIY glamping (bring your own bunting and fairy lights) or established campsites where you can choose anything from tipis and gypsy caravans, to pop up tents or safari tents. There are plenty of choices to suit your budget and preferences. This rise in established pitches means that you can find cheap flights to the destination of your choice and book affordable accommodation where you get to make the most of your surroundings. It also means that you don’t have to travel with all your camping gear.
If you prefer to do it yourself, look into car hire and camping equipment hire; having a car is a camping essential for shopping and exploring, and the cost of hiring still comes in much cheaper than your standard package tour.
Establishing a routine
Like any family travel, it can take a couple of days to settle into the pace of a holiday. Particularly if you are camping, you will probably find that the children go to bed later and wake up a little later, too. It can be frustrating trying to get your children to bed at 7p.m. while it is still light outside and the other children are still running around the campsite playing. Try to be a little flexible and find the routine that works for you (you may decide to introduce an afternoon siesta to compensate for late nights). Top tip: if you are camping with babies and toddlers for whom a bedtime bath is an essential part of the bedtime routine, make sure you book a campsite with a bath!
Family travel: the camping checklist
For each person that thinks camping is bliss, there is at least one that can’t think of anything worse. If you are a novice camper or need a little persuading, take a look at our camping checklist:
- Walkie talkies. Don’t buy novelty walkie talkies. Invest in good ones that actually work. Children can take one with them when they go to play, so they can get in touch with you if there is a problem, and you can call them back for lunch without wondering around a hot campsite shouting like a banshee. Some walkie talkies have a baby monitor facility, too, so you can have it on in the tent while the children are asleep and you can sit outside and enjoy a bit of adult time.
- Electric hook up. You may think that while camping you will be forced go all Bear Grills and live by candlelight, eating only what you can forage or cook on an open fire. You don’t have to do this. Ever. Electric hook up is great for charging phones and tablets alone. Electric lamps are a revelation. Most campers will take or leave an electric camping kettle – the lower power means that they take ages to boil; gas is quicker.
- A fridge. Don’t fly with a fridge, obviously, but when you book your campsite ask to hire a fridge. It may cost up to £100 to hire for two or three weeks, but will save you a small fortune. Stock up on ice cream to save the never-ending (and expensive) trips to the campsite shop, keep milk, butter and water cool, store food to prevent waste and, most importantly, chill your wine.
- Layers – check out the temperatures for your destination and pack accordingly. If temperatures tend to drop at night, make sure you bring warm clothes – at least one hoody and a pair of jeans. Likewise, if the night times remain balmy, bring lightweight pyjamas. Quick-drying clothes and towels are ideal, but remember most campsites will have a launderette.
Embrace the experience
From safari tents on an African safari to pop up tents in a Sri Lankan cave and tipis on the beach in Fiji, camping has taken on a whole new persona. So, even if you are the most resistant camper, why not live a little? Try two nights under canvas: it might just be the most memorable two nights of your life.