Life is full of adventures and very few compare to taking a child on his or her first camping trip. It truly is one of the best experiences to bond as a family and spend quality time together.
But, even for the hardened campers among us, being prepared is crucial to maximise the time and fun you have on your family camping trip.
We’ve compiled a few of the most important considerations before you get out into the wild.
Choosing The Right Family Tent
We were gifted the Vango Airbeam Stargrove air 600 XL to test out. Having only every camped (with the kids) in a small 3 man tent, having the Vango Stargrove air 600 XL was like moving out of a 2 up 2 down terrace, into a detached 5 bed house with 5 acres of land!
And what a difference it made.
Don’t get me wrong, it is more to carry at 26kg, but the benefits it brings to your family campout is more than worth it.
Firstly, it meant that my wife would entertain the possibility of camping – something that until now, she’s been against. But having the extra room made it far more appealing to her and a few weeks ago, we went on our first family night away in a tent together.
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A HUGE benefit is how easy this tent is to put up & pack down. So easy in fact, that having never put up a tent before, my wife managed to do it all on her own. It’s a simple case of unpacking it, pumping up the Airbeams that provide the firm structure of the tent and then pegging it all down.
And packing it away is essentially the same, but in reverse. Vango say that set up time is just 12 minutes – but actually, I managed it in less. Putting it down is very straight forward and easy, until you have you get it back into the carry bag. The trick is to roll it as tight as possible and make sure that you use the pump to remove all the air from the Airbeams before rolling!
The tent withstood the onslaught of our 5 year old plus 2 teenagers with no problem at all. It seems to be durable and well built. The benefit of a large living area means you have more than enough space to house all the things you need as a family.
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It has 1 large sleeping compartment that can be split into 3 separate ones if you’d rather. For us, it was quite nice to all sleep in the same compartment like one big sleep over, but if you were camping for a week or more, splitting it up might be a better option.
The Vango Airbeam Stargrove air 600 XL is a great tent; we were thoroughly impressed and we’re certainly hoping for many an adventure in it.
Where to Camp
The next consideration is where to camp. In my mind, there’s 1 thing to consider when choosing somewhere to pitch, regardless of how long you’re camping for.
- Can you have an open fire next to the tent? If not, are you even really camping?
You may want to consider the following as well:
- Don’t pitch your tent under a tree.
- Try to find somewhere you can park your car near to where you’re pitching.
- Don’t choose a campsite that is open and exposed to the elements.
- Find a campsite that will have other families, but not the ‘Piccadilly Circus’ of campsites. Find a happy medium.
- Look for somewhere close to things to do with the kids – near a beach, or a wood or open space that you can play in.
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Family Camping Checklist
The best advice I ever received when family camping was to make a family camping checklist and to actually use it.
Here’s a handy camping checklist for you to use. [DOWNLOAD IT HERE)
Family camping holidays are wonderful, but if you under any illusion that you will get to lie in, you’re wrong. The kids will be up with the sun both because the sunlight will encroach on their sleep and tents tend to get pretty hot pretty quickly.
By 6am, you’ll want to have a good list of activities to do. We’ve scoured the web and compiled the following list:
- Look for wildlife
- Look for evidence of previous campers
- Bird watching
- Try to identify different berries or plants
- Hunt for interesting rocks, flowers, pinecones, or leaves to collect
- Photographing or sketching nature
- Scavenger hunt
- Collect firewood for the evening’s campfire
- Making artwork from the things you find
- Star gazing
- Night walk
- Make S’mores
- Flashlight tag or Hide and Seek in the dark
- Campfire skits or plays
- Experiment with different fire cooked foods
- Learn a new survival skill
- Foot races
- Capture the Flag
- 20 Questions
- Stone skipping contests
- Learn to whittle or some other new hobby
Family camping is a wonderful option for a holiday – in many ways, it’s the best kind of holiday. You’ll be sure to bond and make wonderful memories together as a family as well as learning new skills and life lessons.
Making sure you plan your trip well really is the crux of whether or not it will be a success. Follow the above and you’ll be 90% of the way there towards a great trip. Follow these quick wins, and you’ll be 99% of the way there…
- Get the kids involved in as many aspects as possible. Whether it be setting up the tent, getting water, cooking or playing games, camping gives them opportunity to be involved.
- Borrow from friends & family. Camping doesn’t need to be expensive; you can borrow so much equipment from friends and family and in all honesty, you don’t need a great deal to get started with.
- Leave no trace. I don’t need to be the one to tell you this but keeping our environment clean after a camping trip is essential. Family camping is a chance to enjoy the great outdoors, not fill it with litter.
- Simple cooking. Pasta, rice and pot noodles. Well, not pot noodles – but cooking whilst camping shouldn’t be complex. Keep it simple. (And BBQ as much as you can!)
- Have a trial run. Before you head off to Snowdonia, the Peak District or the Isle of Wight for a 14 night family camping trip, have a night on the garden. It’s a lot of fun and getting a little bit of practice in never hurts :)
*This article was in partnership with Vango