Your Ultimate Family Camping Checklist

You don’t have to go abroad to go on holiday! And nothing beats camping for a fun and affordable excursion for the whole family closer to home.

If you’ve never gone camping before, you might be wondering where to start. So this is your ultimate family camping checklist. We’ll cover all the essential things you need to know, from choosing a campsite to deciding what to pack.

First Time Camping – Choosing a Campsite

It’s no exaggeration to say that you’ll have a huge choice of campsites no matter where you look in the UK. So how can you decide which campsite is right for your family?

Here are some things to consider:

  • Amenities
    Some campsites are essentially just empty fields in which to pitch a tent. They’re great for a really rustic experience, but perhaps not so great for inexperienced campers and families. Other campsites offer numerous onsite amenities, including shower blocks, washing facilities, bars, restaurants, games rooms, playgrounds, and even swimming pools!
  • Glamping or Camping
    If you’re not ready to pitch a tent just yet, you might consider glamping instead of camping. You can stay in a hut, a log-cabin, a yurt, a tipi, or even a treehouse. Alternatively, you could head to a caravan park.
  • Restrictions
    Some campsites have restrictions at all times. For example, some might not allow dogs. Others may ban fires, or they may enforce strict noise restrictions at certain hours. But as we gradually come out of lockdown, it’s likely that certain campsites will continue to implement certain additional restrictions, such as social distancing rules.
  • Nearby Attractions
    What is there to see and do in the area? Camping is fun in itself, but you’ll need some things to do, too. So look for nearby walks, towns, and other attractions.

The Campsites website lets you search camping and glamping holiday destinations across the whole country. An icon-system lets you quickly identify the sort of amenities you’ll find at each site, and you might be able to get a discount for certain sites. Head here to get started.

Your Ultimate Family Camping Checklist

So you’ve picked your destination and you’ve picked your campsite. Now it’s time to pack. But what should you bring?

Really, it depends on the sort of campsite you’re heading to. If you’re going for a full-on rough and wild experience, you’ll need to pack a lot more than you would if you were heading to a catered glamping site!

But here are some ideas to get you started.

Camping Essentials

  • A Tent
    Or, depending on the size of your family, a number of tents. Make sure you know how to set up your tent – practice at home before you leave, if possible. And make sure you bring all the poles and pegs you need to correctly pitch your tent. Also bring a wooden mallet, in case the ground’s too hard to push your pegs in.
  • Clothes
    Bring more clothes than you think you’ll need, as you never know when you might need to change. Bring lots of layers, as it can get cold during the night. And don’t forget your waterproofs! Even if the forecast’s looking fine, you know what British weather’s like. Pack practical shoes – good walking boots and wellies, in case it gets wet.
  • Sleeping
    Everyone will need their own sleeping bag. If you’re driving to your campsite, you should also have room to pack pillows, and even air mattresses! They can make all the different when sleeping outdoors. If you bring an air mattress, you’ll also need a pump. But if you don’t have an air mattress, you should at least consider bringing sleeping mats.
  • Toiletries etc.
    Everyone will need a towel or two. Beyond that, pack toothbrushes, toothpaste, shower gel, shampoo, deodorant, and whatever else you’d normally pack for your family on holiday. You should also bring a first-aid kit just in case, containing plasters, bandages, antiseptic, and so on. You’ll need sunscreen and after-sun if you’ll be spending a lot of time outside, and you might also need insect repellent and bite treatment. And don’t forget your hand sanitiser!
  • Food
    If you go glamping, you might have a stove and a fridge to use. In this case, you can just plan for a standard self-catering excursion. But if you’ll be camping in a tent, you might need to pack a camping stove and a gas cannister to power it, and a cool-box to preserve things like milk and eggs. Bring mugs, cups, cutlery and crockery, and pots, pans and a kettle to cook in. Bring camping chairs for everyone, and perhaps a folding camping table. As for your meal plan, think of the sort of things that’d be easy to prepare on a small camping stove: Bacon, eggs, baked beans, instant noodles etc. You might plan to eat out a few times during your trip too, and your campsite might even have an onsite shop or restaurant.
  • Electronics
    A torch is essential, and maybe a lantern for inside your tent. Bring spare batteries too. You should all bring your smartphones in case of emergencies, along with charging packs. But bear in mind that you might not get a very good reception in the country, and not all campsites offer wi-fi. So you might need to think of creative ways to keep the kids entertained!

One Last Essential Item for your Checklist

Country driving can be treacherous, and you don’t want to break down miles from anywhere. So if you’re planning a camping holiday in the UK, consider adding RAC Roadside recovery to your car insurance. That way, no matter what happens you’ll be able to rest-assured that help will soon come, while onward travel cover will save you from getting stranded in the middle of nowhere.

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