Family Camping Survival Guide

Family Camping Checklist

So you’ve agreed to a camping trip? That should win you plenty of parenting points. But to stand a chance of enjoying it, you’ll need these tried and tested family camping tips.

Who doesn’t remember at least one camping trip as a child? The damp canvas, the splinters, the bickering between siblings over who ate the last sausage or let the wet dog into the tent. And yet you long for a weekend shopping and drinking good wine in Paris with much the same intensity as the kids want to camp.

So you camp.

But bear in mind that cramped quarters call for cooperation and planning if you want to maintain harmony, at least some of the time.

  • Give each child a backpack with their own stock of essentials: baby wipes, water, hand-sanitizer and a torch. If there’s room, take spare socks and some snacks.
  • The more glorious the forecast, the more likely it is to rain. Pack a few games (cards, activity books – nothing with small pieces that can get lost in the grass) in case you are stuck in a tent/car for an afternoon.
  • Don’t underestimate how many changes of clothes they’ll need: if you’re camping near a river or lake, pack at least three pairs of trousers per day – there’s nothing worse than walking with wet ankles.
  • Long trousers and sleeves are crucial (even in the summer) to cover up bare skin when walking in long grass or through wooded areas to avoid stings, bites and scratches.
  • Get the kids involved in the camping chores: if they can collect firewood, get fresh water or help put up their tent, the whole trip becomes more collaborative – more fun for them and less of a slog for you.
  • If they are old enough to stay up a bit later without ensuing meltdowns, a night walk or hide and seek in the dark can be really memorable and exciting for them. Pack lanterns or, better yet, head torches (and closed shoes) and perhaps a bug jar to collect ‘specimens’.
  • If you invest in one thing it should be brightly coloured ribbon or a cheap solar-powered ground light for the tent entrance. Tents mean guy ropes, which are taught and usually impossible to see, even in daylight. Tripping and knocking a tooth out is quite a party killer, especially if you are far from civilization.
  • Camp beds are cheap, relatively comfortable, fold flat and will revolutionise the experience if, like most people over the age of 11, you are not enamoured with the ideas of sleeping on cold, damp, uneven ground. A Summit folding camp bed is light, strong and, at less than £20, is well worth buying.
  • You can fit 5 bottles of wine into your average family cool box, jam the gaps with BearNibbles YoYos and packets of popcorn to prevent them from breaking.

Have you endured a family camping trip recently? Was it brochure quality time or a total disaster? Share your experiences and tips in the comments below (desktop/tablet only).


  • Laura says:

    We take two ikea laundry bins with us – one for shoes to be kept at the door of the tent and one for rubbish – it stops you having bin liners everywhere. And also one bin liner per day for dirty clothes – at the end of the day everything everyone has worn that is dirty gets put in the bin liner which goes immediately into the boot of the car.

  • Samantha James says:

    Laura these are great tips!
    We take a couple of old bath mats with us, one for just inside the tent to contain grass before shoes are kicked off, and one for the shower facilities.
    Flip Flops are essential too.
    We pack the big, sturdy bags for life with one for breakfast stuff, one for lunch and dinner and another with drinks, it reduces the searching for stuff.

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