We all love camping with the kids right? Creating magical memories, roasting marshmallows by the campfire, exploring the great outdoors? Or if our last trip to France is anything to go by, ending up in the toilets with a screaming three-year-old in the middle of the night, trying not to wake up the entire site, spending most of the week covered in sand, wee and wasps, and generally feeling maybe a cottage would be better.
As we’re off again in August (followed by a few nights in a farmhouse!) I’ve asked friends for their top camping tips – I particularly like the wee bucket (and the takeaway). What are your camping hacks?
- Get a takeaway on the first night
No-one wants to have to cook sausages after driving, setting up tents, unpacking the car. Make sure you have details of a local takeaway so you can set up, and then enjoy some properly cooked food. You’re going to be living on sausages and burgers for a while.
- Make an emergency toilet
Nothing worse than needing to go to the loo in the middle of the night, or children getting stressed and peeing in the corner. Get a bucket and put a nappy in it to absorb liquids. That way kids can go to the loo without having to find shoes/toilets in the pitch black.
- Ban all technology
Go back to basics. Absolutely no electronic devices/ tablets/iPods and instead take lots of games – uno, backgammon, twister! Take card games and dominoes and outdoor toys – you can’t go wrong with a kite. Head torches are very useful at nighttime – and why not try old-school walkie talkies?
- Have enough clothes/bedding
Little people get cold – make sure you have gloves, hand warmers, hats, things that you can layer up for daytime or at night if it gets cold. Get the warmest sleeping bag you can, and hot water bottles. Dressing gowns for kids if it gets cold.
- Take enough snacks
Fruit bars, dried fruit, juice cartons that you can throw away when you’re out and about so you don’t have to carry too much. Also if you have space get the biggest cool box you can. You need somewhere to put the milk, and the wine.
- Take some luxuries
Nothing worse than having to shut down as soon as it gets dark. Invest in some solar lucie lamps or a battery powered lamp. Take a washing up bowl to store plates and cutlery and to carry to and from washing up station. Camping wardrobes to keep clothes slightly organised and off the floor. Dustpan and brush so you don’t have to sleep in sand and mud every night.
- Be organised
Keep a camping box packed with crockery, cutlery, utensils, pans, chopping boards, torches, lamps, corkscrews, matches, skewers. That way packing is much easier, you don’t need to run round the house looking for things and you are less likely to forget stuff. If you’re really organised you can include a laminated list in the box to check you have it all.
- Take duplicates
If there are a few of you, take several wash bags with little bottles of shower gel, shampoo and toothpaste. This means you don’t have to wait for people to get back from the shower and also you can lose a few bottles without having to go dirty for a week. Dressing gowns can also be handy – doubling up as towels and extra clothing for the cold evenings/mornings.
- Take wine, spirits, bottled beer. And a bottle opener. And plastic glasses.
- Remember it will all be over soon…