There’s no cheaper holiday than one in a tent, especially when there are several of you. And kids LOVE camping. With many adults, it can be a love or hate thing, although there plenty of folk who just need a bit of persuasion.
An appreciation for the outdoors and relaxed attitude towards the weather are essential. Lots of independent play out in the elements tires kids out nicely, but camping also offers lessons in self-sufficiency – making fires, cooking with limited food/facilities, and learning how nature can sustain us.
If don’t have a tent, or don’t want to travel with all the equipment, try one of the many campsites offering luxury tents with mod cons. Or, often classed as ‘camping’ (tents/pitches are available at many), Holiday Parks offer static caravans and often pools/waterparks, kids’ clubs and more.
If it’s your first time, try a weekend on a campsite with good facilities not far from home, or at a family-friendly music festival.
Take a separate tent for older kids. If you’re sharing, have one with compartments, for private time after the kids are asleep.
Bear in mind that whether you’re going for a weekend or two weeks, the more things you take (foldaway chairs, cool boxes…), the more comfortable you’ll be. But air mattresses and feather pillows can be too bulky to take.
Bring the essentials: extra blankets even in summer, sun protection (a gazebo or tarpaulin) if in a field, a wind-break (to double as a privacy shield), a double-hob stove, battery-operated lanterns, a washing-up bowl and equipment, copious loo paper and kitchen roll, wipes, and pans, plates, plastic glasses, etc.
Pack tons of clothes – if there’s no laundrette, it’s hard hand-washing and drying clothes in a tent.
Take plenty of food and drink – on-site shops can be expensive. Pasta, couscous, baked beans and eggs are easy and quick. Snacks are also important, especially dried fruit and nuts, but bring containers to keep bugs out.
Pack some favourite toys, for when it rains and you’ve worn out local museums.
Be prepared to go to bed with the sun and rise with the sun!
If you’re not sure, or don’t want to go the whole hog, combine a camping holiday with a few days of luxury (see our feature Camping Versus Luxury in Cornwall).
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