There’s been a huge resurgence of interest in camping in recent times. That most traditional of vacation choices is a huge hit with millennial parents according to the latest research.
- According to the Great Britain Tourism Survey of 2015, over 15 Million camping trips were taken that year.
- While over in the US, Kampgrounds of America reported that there were 6 million new camping households in the United States in 2014!
With the increased interest, more people than ever are looking for information on camping. However, with a huge amount of camping equipment choices, it can be confusing for ‘newbies’ who have no idea where to begin. Our guide will show you how to ease into the experience. Soon, you’ll be able to manage it like a pro!
Why is Camping with kids on the rise?
Increase in dads' involvement
Millennial parents, dads in particular, are more heavily involved with their children’s upbringing. According to KOA statistics, kids spend 90% of their time indoors and up to 50 hours per week using digital devices. According to a British National Trust survey in 2016, British kids spend half as much time playing outside as their parents did. It causes serious concern for parents. It makes them want to drag the kids out into the great outdoors so they can have a 'real childhood.
Stepping back from travelling abroad
According to Chris Fair, President and CEO of Resonance Consultancy in Vancouver BC, people tend to stay away from situations they feel would be unsafe. Millennial parents on the whole seem to feel that travelling abroad with children is a bit risky. In a Resonance survey quoted in TravelMarket Report in August 2018, only 26% of millennials with children were interested in travelling abroad. Staying in your own country seems to be a safer option.
New camping 'sophistication'
Modern day camping is a more sophisticated experience than the hardy outdoor camping trips of yesteryear. There are a lot more amenities available today than ever before. This has introduced the term ‘glamping’, a combination of ‘glamour’ and ‘camping’. It sounds derisory, but it really refers to how upmarket camping has become.
Benefits of Camping with kids
(1) Camping is great for families with children. For a child who has lived all of his or her life in a comfortable city apartment, it’s a new experience. Provided the weather holds up, it should be a delightful one.
(2) The children get closer to nature. They enjoy a more natural existence, if only for a short while.
(3) Even if it's only gathering up the plates after a meal, it gives your children the opportunity to take pride in their responsibilities and feel more mature.
Types of Camping
Camping is defined as spending one or more nights away from home in a temporary dwelling like a tent, mobile home or caravan.
Mobile homes and caravans have evolved into the more sophisticated ‘campervans’ and RVs (recreational vehicles) of today. Camping experiences can range from comfortable stays in cosy cabins (‘glamping’) to minimalist survival-type camping of hardened and highly-experienced campers. Obviously, a young family can’t be expected to camp in an extreme style.
For a family starting out in camping, cabin-style camping is a good idea. That’s what it’s called in the United States. You could call it pod camping in the UK.For a family considering their first camping holiday, let us check all the options one by one.
This type of camping is generally recommended as a first-time option for families. Pods are small camping huts which are made from eco-friendly materials. They give some space and comfort for a good sleep and rest. Yet they’re small so the user still gets to enjoy outdoor life. The principle behind ‘glamping’ is that a family doesn’t have to drag a lot of equipment to enjoy a camping trip. Pods are in the shape of traditional old-style huts. When young children are camping with parents, it’s great if the kids have a comfortable place to sleep. It gives the parents a restful evening and ensures the youngsters can enjoy their trip. Some pods are quite luxurious and even have bedding. Some are basic and you must bring sleeping bags.
Another form of camping which doesn’t involve a tent. Cabins are basic shelters which may contain a sleeping space and a shared bathroom. They may have kitchens also, so it’s not necessary to cook outdoors. If you book an accommodation like this, make sure you find out in advance if the bedding is supplied and if there’s a kitchen. This will help you to plan. The point of cabin camping is that you don’t have to take a lot of equipment and pitch tents. Sometimes grandparents, aunts and uncles like to come along, so a bigger sleeping space may be necessary. Some cabins have electricity, though others have not - so be sure to check this before your arrival.
Mobile homes and caravans, detachable from a vehicle, were always popular for seaside holidays. Even today, it’s possible to rent a stationary caravan for a beach holiday. Campervans or motorhomes are a step up from the caravan or mobile home. They’re called RVs (Recreational Vehicles) in the US. It’s better to rent one at first. Later, if you know the family can use it regularly and if finances allow, you could purchase one, new or secondhand. Some families convert an old van to save on cost, as they’re generally quite expensive. Motorhomes can be parked in authorised parking spaces. You can travel comfortably, safe from the weather and bring your accommodation along. Before your journey, find out exactly where you may or may not park, and plan accordingly.
Families going on a first-time camping holiday are generally advised not to try camping in a tent. If you’re not familiar with the art of putting up a tent, it can be very difficult and take a lot of time, especially when you need to look after kids. With no prior experience, it’s hard to know what type of tent will suit your family- it may be best to borrow one first before purchasing. With an expert on board, it’s much easier. You should put up your tent on a registered campsite and whether you are in the UK, Ireland or North America, you can search online to find a registered campsite. Make sure your tent is pitched where will not flood if there’s a rain downpour. You may even find a campsite that rents out readily-pitched tents, saving you the bother of bringing one along.
Checklist for Camping
What are the key essentials for regular camping trips?
Some people go to local pound shops to buy these items and find all they need under one roof. Others who are concerned about quality, prefer to buy online from a trusted retailer. You might like to do that in the case of the gazebo and the tent if you need one. It will give you a better choice. For toiletries, family size bottles of baby shampoo and soap are a good choice. They usually suit every family member.
Pack casual, comfortable clothes that are easy to wash and wear. Preferably in natural fibres like wool and cotton.
- Everyone must have a jacket and one sweater or cardigan in case the evenings are cool.
- Bring clothes which don’t need ironing.
- Find out about local laundry facilities in advance and check if you need to bring detergent.
Bring along at least two changes and a few extras for young children. If you must pack bedding, take sleeping bags, which are easier to manage. Bring at least one large towel for each family member.
Food and snacks
If you’re going by campervan, plan your meals in advance and fill up your fridge. Otherwise, learn about cooking and shopping options at your campsite.
- Get the groceries at your destination - what you’ll eat depends on your cooking facilities.
- If you must cook on a campfire, you may like to eat one meal out during the day.
- Use the campfire for toast and burgers, potatoes and eggs.
- Keep some energy bars handy.
Remember to bring tinfoil to wrap leftovers too.
Camping games with Kids
Board games and cards are good for rainy days (which hopefully won’t happen). Enjoyable activities for when it’s not raining include campfire skits, animal charades and scavenger hunts. If you're feeling daring you could also bring the Nerf Guns!
If you haven’t decided to abandon digital life completely, the kids may prefer to use their devices. Some parents prefer to keep one tablet or phone active on holiday to share photos on social media. Only the most determined go completely off the grid. If you can manage that for the camping trip, congratulations.
You can also get older kids to help with some of the chores. Laundry, washing dishes and preparing food must be done as at home. The older children should be encouraged to help and made feel appreciated when they do well.
Camping games with Toddlers
It’s a great idea to bring some balls to play with.Large coloured balls are great for small children. Sometimes they burst or get lost, so bring a few, even if you have to blow them up every time. Toys should be the unbreakable, outdoor type. Balls, bats, skipping ropes, hula hoops and boomerangs are good. Many campsites have a pool and play area for kids. Make the most of them, but never leave your kids alone there.
As parents, it’s your responsibility to supervise - don’t think it’s the site’s duty. Older kids can be brilliant help taking care of the younger ones and keeping them engaged. Fun activities can include water games such as water gun target practice and water bucket relays.
One vital thing to remember when travelling with young children is to bring a snack supply. Some sweets or chocolate are a sure-fire cure for a fretful child. Don’t overly worry about their teeth, they can brush them afterwards - and you are on your holidays after all!
A final word
Things don’t always go as planned. You might get rain and that’s always a risk - you’ll find some way to enjoy the time. The main requirement is to be flexible.
Children are adaptable and they’ll always remember the happy times, excitement and togetherness of a camping trip. Just be relaxed and go with the flow.
There’s one more thing. As mentioned, some people find Wi-Fi essential when camping, to share those photos on social media. Others prefer to go off the grid. It’s your choice. But take some photos to keep your memories alive, you’ll cherish them in years to come!