Thinking about your first family camping trip?
Maybe your children have been nagging you to take them camping? Perhaps enough time has passed since your childhood camping experiences for you to have developed warm fuzzy feelings about nights spent under canvas. Maybe you are keen… maybe not. The good news is that camping has come a long way in the last few years, mainly in response to the raised expectations of the average holidaymaker. Although ‘rough camping’ is also gaining in popularity, many more people prefer the relative simplicity of camping but with some for the more essential comforts thrown in.
Camping is just a bit different to other holidays… Yes it can be more challenging and yes the first night can seem like hell. You may have turned up to a wet campsite in the wind and rain only to find that you have forgotten the nappies, toothpaste, tent pegs and the bottle opener, the children are wingeing and you are tired and not just a bit stressed by the journey and from packing and unpacking the car. Don’t despair! The morning will soon be here and when you awake, you may just find that the sun is out, the park is alive with the sounds of birds and children having fun, the cooked breakfast is the tastiest you can ever remember having and more importantly you are on holiday!
Here are my top 10 camping tips for the novice camper
1) Choose the right tent. You don’t have to spend a fortune but like most things in life, you get what you pay for. If you are planning the family two week holiday on a campsite then don’t risk having a miserable time because you have bought the cheapest tent in the shop. Make sure you choose one with a spacious living area for wet days.
2) Practice putting the tent up in your garden before you head off. This serves two main purposes, firstly to check that all the parts are there and secondly so that you can see how it works. (Putting up a new tent in the rain for the first time is not a lot of fun!)
3)Test out your camp bed and sleeping bag in your sitting room. Perhaps let the children sleep in their bags a few times before you set off to get them used to it. Make sure they are comfortable and warm enough. (Put the air bungs in a safe place an remember to get a decent pump)
4)Choose a campsite close to home for your first trip. If you forget something you can always pop home. A great website for choosing your campsite is www.ukcampsite.co.uk
Drop in and have a look at the campsite before you book so you know what you are going to get. Websites are no substitution for having a look around yourself.
5) Don’t try to cook anything fancy on your first night on the campsite. Have something easy to heat up or better still pick up a takeaway on your journey or eat out. There is enough setting up to do without worrying about cooking!
6) Make a plan in case of wet weather. Do a bit of research on the area you are visiting and make a few plans for all weathers. Although it can be fun (and quite cozy) sitting out a storm playing board games it can soon lose its appeal. Make sure you pack some out door games as well as board games.
7) Make a plan for keeping your food cold. If you have opted for basic camping (without electric hook up) then you will need to have a cold box. Most good campsites will offer a re-freezing facility where you can either swap your defrosted blocks for frozen ones or put your blocks in the parks freezer and collect them once frozen. Take a few packs so you always have some to exchange. You will need to leave about 8 hours for your blocks to freeze (longer when it is busy and people are in and out of the freezer with their warm blocks.)
8 ) Go out of season if you can. If you have pre school age children then why not avoid the crowds by going camping just before or after the holidays. Even mid week during the holidays are a little quieter.
9) Relax and don’t take anything too seriously. There are bound to be the odd little ‘issue’ however these may just be the family memories that get relived over the sunday lunch years from now. Whoever remembers the uneventful holidays anyway?
10) If you get stuck or don’t know the correct etiquette for something when you are on the campsite then don’t be shy… ask a fellow camper. Campsites are generally friendly places and we have all been newbies at one stage or other. The park warden or reception staff should also be happy to answer questions.
Have fun and come and visit us at Swiss Farm Touring and Camping