Camping With Kids

Wednesday, 25 May 2016 / Leave a Comment

If you had said to me many years ago, pre having kids, that I would find camping enjoyable I would have scoffed in your face.
Whats enjoyable about sleeping on the cold hard floor in a paper thin sleeping bag within a cramped tent with the sides flapping, terrified the whole tent may fall down any minute?
And waking up in the morning all damp with frizzy hair!!
My young adult self would have screamed "absolutely no way!"
Well, tents and camping equipment have come along way since then as well as the phenomenon 'Glamping'.

Camping With Kids | A Cheap Family Holiday?

I'd be lying if I said I didn't want to go on holiday abroad.
I'd love to be laying by a poolside sunning myself somewhere tropical but I don't have the money, or a passport for that matter, plus three children also passportless (How am I ever going to afford them plus a holiday is beyond me!) and the risk of terrorism abroad means we need a holiday closer to home where the kids can burn off energy and have fun.

Enter the world of Camping.

Camping can create life long memories for your kids and really make them appreciate nature away from the Ipad's and xboxes. They can explore and test their limits in the wilderness imitating Bear Grylls...ok not quite but you get my point.
Another bonus is that kids who camp do better at school according to a study carried out by the Institute of Education at Plymouth University and The Camping and Caravaning Club who collaborated to discover perceptions of the relationship between camping and education.

Now we tried (and failed) at numerous attempts at camping when we had just the two kids.
I don't know what we were expecting but both trips we came home after one failed night! I think in hindsight it was down to having a bad choice of tent and lack of camping essentials. Luckily we weren't far from home though so the callings of home comfort was to strong to resist.
The tent went into the shed along with the small amount of camping equipment we had never to see the light of day again.

Fast forward a few years later and with the addition of a third child the subject of camping came up again.
I recoiled in horror as my partner suggested we try a family camping holiday again.
"Don't you remember what a s**t time we had before?!" I questioned him.
We talked about it and decided we just didn't have the 'right' gear or the 'right' tent.
So we headed to Go Outdoors.
Go Outdoors

Get your camping equipment and tent right.

Go Outdoors has everything you can imagine for creating a home from home environment when out camping with the family.
Now some 'hardened' campers will say its not proper camping if you have electric, lights, heating and an oven but I say sod them!
You can take what ever you need to make your holiday comfortable and enjoyable for you and your kids.
Go Outdoors has a huge selection of tents on display so you can really get a good feel for a tent and what you would put in it.
Vango Incarus currently £249.99 in Go Outdoors (26/5/16)

Plus there are some MASSIVE family sized tents that you could likely park your car in!
There is a big selection of sleeping bags of all different shapes and sizes, again you can try them (a funny sight us laying on the floor trying out the sleeping bags but how else are you to know what you are comfortable in...a mummy bag or a huge sleeping pod?) and a cooking section full of different types of gas hobs and BBQs and cooler boxes or electric fridges.
12v Electric Coolbox...An essential that we have.

We didn't get everything from Go Outdoors though as we scoured eBay for second hand goods and Amazon for cheap cooking equipment nut its a good place to go and 'see and feel' what you are likely to need.

We settled on the Vango Avington 600 6 berth family sized tent. A large tent with a sewn in groundsheet to keep the draft's and bugs out! (After our first tent had a foot big gap around the bottom which was VERY drafty and cold a sewn in groundsheet was a must for us and I would hugely recommend it with children)
Vango Avington/Anteus Tent
Our Vango Avington/Anteus Tunnel Tent

For sleeping we got blow up air beds and sleeping bags. We took two double quilts with us for extra insulation on top of the airbeds, a handy tip from Get Out With The Kids. This is a fantastic website full of useful tips for new campers as well as experienced campers and loads of really tasty camping recipes.
Sleeping children in tent
Peaceful sleeping kids

Pick a good campsite in the right location for you

There are a variety of campsites across the UK (and even Europe) catering for all different requirements when it comes to a camping holiday. Some are on working farms, in forests or by the sea.
We have so far opted for coastal campsites. We have also picked sites that have free showers (some you pay for tokens) ,toilet blocks, children's parks, an on-site shop and clubhouse.
You work out what you need and what you are prepared to pay.
Basic campsites with toilets and showers but no entertainment we have been to range from £10 a night up to the more entertaining sites with clubhouses, restaurants and swimming pools up to £35 a night. Prices also depend on the time of year with summer being high season and therefore the top price.
Depending where and when you go is an important factor in whether a camping holiday is a 'cheap' holiday.
View from our tent at Forest Park, Cromer

Decide if you are cooking or eating out

What I love most about camping is that the other half does all the cooking.
He loves to cook a fry up in the morning as much as he loves a BBQ in the evening.
Outdoor cooking
Outdoor Cooking

Campsite cooking is easy if you plan your meals before you go.
We usually BBQ the first couple days whilst our meats fresh in the chiller then either have a pasta meal or take out on the last night.
I have once cooked spaghetti bolognaise at home and heated it in the pan on holiday and on another occasion we had pizza (bought from the local Tesco) and cooked in our mini oven. (Very handy if your on electric hook up - EHU) 
Get Out With The Kids, a website I mentioned earlier, is fantastic for camping cooking tips and recipes. 
Campsite Breakfast
Campsite Breakfast

Electric or not?

Some people like to go non electric and I have heard their are some fantastic campsites out their where you can get the full on wilderness experience with a campfire.
We have yet to try this but it is on our list of things to try!
After our first few failed camping experiences (Too dark at night and cold :/ ) we tried an electric hook up (EHU and havn't looked back since.
We don't go mad on gadgets and gizmos but it is nice to take:
  • electric cool box (handy for milk, butter and meat etc without worrying about stuff going off)
  • fan heater (for them cooler nights when the kids are undressing it helps take the chill off)
  • electric griddle and mini oven (just gives you extra options for cooking with ease)
  • a table lamp (no worrying about dying batteries in the little lamps, though they are handy for toilet trips at night)
  • phone chargers ( because we are techno obsessed and I'm sorry but our phones and iPad come with us!)
Most camp sites are 10 amp or 16 amp so you need to be mindful how much you have plugged in at once so you don't keep tripping the electric, something we have learned along the way.
A 10 amp EHU will give you about 2300 watts of power.

Below is a useful chart from UK Campsite so that you can work out the total wattage for your electrical gear.

60 Watts = 0.26 Amp
100 Watts = 0.43 Amp
200 Watts = 0.87 Amp
300 Watts = 1.30 Amp
400 Watts = 1.74 Amp
500 Watts = 2.17 Amp
600 Watts = 2.61 Amp
700 Watts = 3.04 Amp
800 Watts = 3.48 Amp
900 Watts = 3.91 Amp
1000 Watts = 4.35 Amp
1100 Watts = 4.78 Amp
1200 Watts = 5.22 Amp
1300 Watts = 5.65 Amp
1400 Watts = 6.09 Amp
1500 Watts = 6.52 Amp
1600 Watts = 6.96 Amp
1700 Watts = 7.39 Amp
1800 Watts = 7.83 Amp
1900 Watts = 8.26 Amp
2000 Watts = 8.70 Amp
2100 Watts = 9.13 Amp
2200 Watts = 9.57 Amp
2300 Watts = 10.00 Amp
2400 Watts = 10.43 Amp
2500 Watts = 10.87 Amp
2600 Watts = 11.30 Amp
2700 Watts = 11.74 Amp
2800 Watts = 12.17 Amp
2900 Watts = 12.61 Amp
3000 Watts = 13.04 Amp
3100 Watts = 13.48 Amp
3200 Watts = 13.91 Amp
3300 Watts = 14.35 Amp
3400 Watts = 14.78 Amp
3500 Watts = 15.22 Amp

You need to make sure your using low voltage items so DO NOT use a normal domestic kettle as you'll likely blow a fuse!
We use the traditional whistling kettle on the gas hob.
I love to hear the kids shouting "Mum the kettles ready!"as it starts whistling away.
Whistling Kettle
Can't beat a whistling kettle!

And relax and have fun

Your on holiday, your not at home so forget about housework and enjoy yourself!
I'll be honest I do struggle with my OCD and the chaos of camping but I am slowly teaching myself that you cant help getting leaves and dirt in your tent and that the kids will get grubby but that's all what the experience is about and they are having FUN!
(A tip that +Turning Up In Devon mentioned in the comments below is baby wipes and kitchen roll - Id second that!!)

Cromer Sunset
Watching the sunset at Cromer

We are off to Forest Park this bank holiday weekend.
We have been there twice before and enjoyed both trips but this time I am planning on carrying out a review so will be taking PLENTY of photos to give you a good idea of what family camping is like and how enjoyable Forest Park is.

Are you Happy Campers?

What would you recommend?

Where is your favorite campsite?

I look forward to hearing!

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