Camping with children and toddlers

Camping with kids can sound like a bucolic adventure — but to make sure it goes smoothly, you need to do some pre-planning and a little bit of homework. Whether you have babies, toddlers or older children, a camping trip can be a wonderful adventure in the great outdoors that you all remember for years to come. Here are some tips to ensure it all goes to plan.

Create lasting memories with your little ones

Pack sensibly

A camping trip with children means you need to have a lot to hand. Food and snacks, including drinks, are essential; bring along flasks and ice boxes if necessary to help with perishable elements. Face wipes are a good plan too, particularly if you’re going to do camping classics like roasted marshmallows.

Lots of clean clothing is necessary, even if you don’t end up using it. Pack warm layers, and make sure kids are rugged up well if the weather is turning a bit cool or evenings drop to unexpected lows. Make sure you have enough nappies for toddler-age kids, and check out your campsite’s disposal options and changing facilities. Games and entertainment are also necessary, even if you want to plan day trips that will tire them out totally. They may not use the things you’ve brought, but they’re good back-up for boredom.

Make sure you have the right tent and accessories. Plenty of space is helpful; you don’t want to be treading on your children or have them crawling across you when you’re trying to sleep. A blow-up mattress is comfortable for sleeping kids, and an outer protected area — where you can store food and hang wet clothes to dry, so that they don’t drip all over your bedding — is also a good plan.

 

Young girls wearing yellow in the boot of a car

The whole family can help with the packing

Maintain normalcy — within reason

A bit of consistency means children feel safe, but be prepared for routines to become flexible. Regular bedtimes may not work when you’re surrounded by daylight and other lively children; if your children are really resisting going to sleep, it can be worth simply letting them tire themselves out on a slightly different schedule. Just because they’re on holiday, though, it doesn’t mean they can act out — so continue to maintain the same ideas about behaviour you do at home, including how to treat other kids.

You may use a buggy to move your smaller kids around normally, but if you’re on a campsite that might not work so well. Explore carrying options like hiking-friendly harnesses if you have kids with little legs that will tire easily.

 

Plan for safety

Campsites can be very safe places, but children need to know where your tent is and how to return to it, so mark it clearly with flags or other markers, so that older kids can find it in a crowd. Walking the site with the kids when you arrive is a great idea to emphasise the adventure and helps them get oriented if they do happen to get lost. Younger children who aren’t old enough to go off on their own and return need to be supervised, and it can be a good idea to get an identity wristband or some other means of ID to help in case they wander off.

Don’t be too ambitious

Camping with toddlers and kids can feel like an opportunity to show them everything you love about the natural world — but don’t get too over-excited. They still get hungry and tired, and plotting a whole day out that’s more suited to adults will result in tantrums. When you’re planning, make sure to include a lot of time for meandering, keep activities and trips relatively brief, and include rest stops for changes and resting tired feet.

 

Family of five walking through the woods

Everyone will love getting out in the great outdoors

Pick great family-friendly campsites

If you’re embarking on a trip with children, it’s always best to plan your sites accordingly. Does the site allow kids? What facilities does it have? What’s nearby and easily accessible for your children?

If you have a young family or toddlers under five years old, our Black Horse Farm site in Kent is ideal. It has an on-site playground and baby changing facilities and is brilliantly located for child-friendly fun. Nearby Canterbury has many family-focused attractions, and there are several National Trust and English Heritage properties close by with good facilities and entertainment for small guests.

For slightly older children, Hillhead in Devon is full of opportunities for fun, with a games room, playground and a summer pool open from June to September. Taking a trip out of the campsite is also a breeze, as there are kid-friendly beaches and the attractions of Paignton Zoo within easy reach.

Children over 9 will love Chester Fairoaks in Cheshire, with its open-air spaces and game-friendly green spaces — and there’s plenty to do nearby, from the famous Roman amphitheatre to Chester Zoo itself.

 

If you're not quite ready for getting back to basics, perhaps consider glamping. All of our glamping facilities are family-friendly and come with plenty of mod-cons to keep the whole family happy!