1. Book the campsite
Some camp sites you need to book, others are first-come first-served. For your first trip out, it’s best to pick one you can reserve and avoid the stress and uncertainty of arriving hoping there’s still free pitches.
2. Arrive early
Get the most out of your camping trip by arriving early, getting the tent up and all your little chores done in daylight so you can gently ease in to the evening.
3. Dry run the tent
If you have a back garden, set up the tent at your leisure for the first time at home so you’re not wrestling with an instruction manual on site. You could also try out your sleeping gear and make sure everything fits – even spend a night in it!
4. Test out new equipment beforehand
Same idea as No. 3, especially with anything complicated like a multi-surface stove
5. Check the weather.
If there’s any nasty surprises in store, best to know in advance and come prepared.
6. Pack in advance.
Another no-brainer. Make a list and pack all the obvious stuff the weekend before if you can. It will leave you breathing space to prepare food and remember those “I can’t believe I nearly forgot that” things at the last minute.
7. Don’t be ambitious with the first night’s meal.
I’m all for gourmet camping food (and cocktails!) but on Day 1, after a potentially long drive and unforeseen delays it’s best to keep it simple. Make ahead a one-pot wonder or something you can just heat up on the stove.
8. Camp with friends
One of the great joys of camping, especially after you have kids, is camping with friends. When else do you get to hang out and chat after the smallies have hit the hay (without dropping a fortune on babysitting)? Most camp sites have curfews but it’s generally fine to sit up chatting over wine as long as you’re keeping the nosie down Ted.
9. Bring props
Football, frisbees, deck of cards, games. Make it easy for your kids to get outside and meeting other kids. Remember, once they’re happy, you’re happy.
10. Snacks on arrival.
There’s nothing worse than struggling to get the tent up with hangry kids moaning for dinner.
11. Locate the bathrooms
And make sure everyone knows where they are, to avoid guesswork in the dark later on.
12. Water, torch, book, sunglasses
My checklist before I crash for the night. I locate the sunglasses the night before as I can never seem to find them in the morning.