One of the most special times you can have as a family is on a camping trip. In the UK we’re blessed with some fantastic campsite set ups in the wonderful countryside, so it’s easy to take advantage of an affordable trip with the family. There’s very little in the way of planning, no waiting around in airports and you can fit everything you need to take with you in the back of the car!
For parents, it’s the perfect way to get your kids out and about in the fresh air, away from a screen and experiencing the nature that surrounds them.
If the idea of a camping trip has piqued your interest but you’re not sure of what essential equipment you’ll need then follow our handy guide. This little lot will be significantly cheaper than a family holiday, can be used again and again and will keep you sheltered in comfort!
You need a place to live! Gone are the days of leaky, poor-quality tents that keep you awake at night because you’re worried they’ll fall down!
Modern tents are well-built, easy to erect and with a little bit of care and attention are waterproof. You won’t have to worry about leaks and the like – they’ll keep you dry whatever the weather.
As a buying tip, buy bigger than you think you’ll need, especially for a family camping trip. If you’re a family of 4, consider buying a 5 or 6 person tent. More room allows you to operate comfortably and enables you to bring things like bikes and chairs inside out of the rain should the weather turn.
For £350 you can pick up the excellent Vango Avington 500, which is a 5 person tent that erects in less than 20 minutes.
If you’re happy to spend a little more, and don’t like the idea of erecting a tent, the Quechua Air Seconds 6.3 XL Family Tent will sleep 6 people and is inflatable, so will be erected in just a few minutes.
If you want a good night’s sleep you need to be warm and comfortable, so you’ll need a good quality sleeping bag. The Outwell Contour Lux XL is excellent value at less than £50 and is perfect for adults.
For children, the Junior Sleepline 300 Mummy Sleeping Bag is an excellent choice and costs £16.95. It’s warm, comfortable and comes in different colours.
If you’re not a seasoned camper I’d urge you away from sleeping mats and instead to opt for a camping air bed. The Deluxe Double Flock Airbed by Highlander is an ideal choice and is only £19.99. The single bed version is £18.99.
A couple of pro tips…
- Always inflate it as much as possible, because you don’t want the natural air leak to jeopardise your comfort. If you inflate it ‘just enough’ you might find it uncomfortable.
- Before you camp, make sure you have the means to inflate it!
Most campsites will have a food shop on site, so whilst things like a cool box are useful, they’re not essential because you can buy food for each meal. You do, however, have to cook and eat!
A dual camping stove is very useful – you can cook a good meal easily and it’s much better than a single burner when you’re feeding a family. It’s also great in the morning because you can cook breakfast on one burner and boil the kettle on the other at the same time. You’ll just have to make sure you have gas with you!
A stove-top kettle is also important if you want to enjoy hot drinks! A good collapsible one (for easy storage) is around £20-£25.
Your pans, plates and cutlery can all be brought from home for the time being.
You’ll need to light the tent up at night, because you don’t want to be standing all over the kids on your way to bed! A perfect solution can be found with the Big Button Rechargeable Light with Power Bank – it doubles as both a light and a power bank, so it’ll light up the tent and act as a battery for charging phones etc.
Buy two – that way you’ll always have a backup, and you won’t drain the batteries by using it to charge phones and light the tent.
General Camping Accessories
To make your camping trip easier and more enjoyable, you’ll need to make sure you’ve got the following…
- Rubber Mallet – whilst your tent will come complete with all of the ropes and pegs you need, it’s unlikely to come with a mallet to knock them in with. They’re an inexpensive but vital bit of kit.
- Camping Chairs – a place to sit is important, especially in the mornings if the ground is a little dewy. These chairs are less than £10 each and are perfect for the job.
- Camping Rug – a camping rug helps to make the tent feel more homely, and it provides somewhere to sit outside as well, so you don’t have to sit directly on the grass. Less than £10 for added comfort.
- Waterproofing Spray – the first time you erect your tent, give it a good spray with the waterproofing spray (as long as the weather is dry!) It’ll help protect it even more from the wet weather, keeping you nice and dry inside.
Affordable camping gear for families
The beauty of camping is that once you own the essentials you can head off and enjoy trip after trip. Whilst the up-front investment will set you back a few hundred pounds, you won’t need to keep replacing items and you can upgrade as and when you see fit.
You don’t need to buy camping-specific equipment from the start either, because items such as pans, plates and cutlery you can take from home. You can even take your own duvet and pillows if you need to!
Once you start camping, you’ll never look back. Whether it’s a weekend away in the countryside or a full two-week holiday, you’ll love the freedom, flexibility and experience that camping affords you.