Camping 101: What to Pack to Make Camping Work for Both Kids and Grown-ups
I don’t like camping. I don’t like mud. I hate shower blocks and having to use a torch to find a toilet in the middle of the night. BUT my daughters love it. The freedom, the chance to constantly be on a picnic and explore nature. So we’ve reached a compromise. I camp and I get to choose the treats, and they get the holiday they love.
So I thought I would put together my list for camping. Things that make life easier, comfier and happier for everyone:
- Bedding - With holiday moods impacted by the amount of sleep we’ve all got, camping comfort at night is huge. We use a blanket on top of an airbed, a sleeping bag (ideally with hood) and a spare blanket for on the top.
If you have a huge car take a duvet. We don’t, so it’s sleeping bags. We love the look of Bundle Beds too. I got to test them out at Big Feastival and guarantee we'll be investing next season! They’re self-contained, fully-bundled beds, complete with a slim, self-inflating mattress, a duvet & pillow – so clever and beautifully designed too.
- Electric Pump - Don’t be a hero!
- Dust pan and brush - This is is my ‘ride or die’ after the bed. I am a sweeper. Keeping things clean makes it feel more civilised and stops cereal crunching under you when you try to sleep. Phew.
- Torches and head torches and batteries - No one wants to be fumbling around in the dark.
- Crockery - We camp a lot and it was creating a battle in our kitchen. We went to the charity shop and invested in some mugs, plates, tongs and cutlery. For under £10 we have a full camp bag ready to go, which makes packing so much easier.
- A big pan - for pasta/stews is always good.
- Chopping board and good knife - so you can keep your culinary standards up as best possible!
- Gas hob burner + gas.
- We have decadently bought a fire pit/bbq. After we camped a lot we invested. A piece of toast on this is amazing and sitting around it in the evening is fab - it definitely ups the camping sophistication factor. Don’t forget a metal cooking tray to sit under any fire pits and catch embers.
- A fold up water bag.
- Jam jars - Because wine glasses fall over and it’s sacrilege to lose good wine!
Camping with tiny babies doesn't need to be a struggle but packing a few extra items just for them will really help.
- A pop up travel cot is a great idea. We layer ours with blankets on the base to keep extra snuggly
- A hot water bottle. While this should NEVER be in the bed with a baby it can be used to warm the cot ahead of them going to sleep to take the edge of the cold
- A fold up changing mat. We love this one from Tiba and Marl but there are less expensive alternatives on amazon if you are worried about the mud/dirt
- Double the amount of clothes you take for them than anyone else. Babies go through clothes at a rapid rate, you will likely want to double up their layers at night as well
- A small bottle of laundry detergent. If you do get through all the clothes and need to find a launderette you don't want to have to buy detergent as well
- A bag to keep baby dirty clothes in
- A towel especially for the baby
- A knitted woolen (natural fibre) hat they can wear at night to keep the heat in
- Cool box - This has transformed camping for us. Cold beer, butter, cold milk sealed away from bugs makes everyone happy. We have a Coleman cool box.
- Washing up bowl plus liquid / scrubber / x2 tea towels.
- Kitchen roll and bin bags.
- Comfy chairs - I highly recommend this! Best thing we bought for camping.
- Towels - beach / shower / one extra cos one is always lost to the shower room floor (bleurgh!)
- Tote bag that can be wrapped up small and expanded for all the extra stuff you will accumulate.
- A couple of carrier bags - for wet/dirty clothes.
- Battery pack charger and cables handy for phones etc.
- A table that folds flat - it doesn't need a seat, just somewhere to keep food and bits off the ground while prepping.
- Tinfoil for keeping things covered and warm.
- Puncture repair kit!
- Having learnt the hard way, have your first meal ready to go. You’re supposed to be on holiday after all and putting up the tent is hard enough! We make a stew at home and take with us just to warm on the hob.
- Cereal - mini boxes or take pegs for a big box.
- Pasta, of course! Plus: onions, chopped tomatoes, a jar of capers and plenty of cheese.
- Loaf of bread.
- Marshmallows and sticks. Toasted marshmallows with your Little Hotdogs has to be done, doesn’t it? Always a highlight for H.
- Some crisps and sweets to keep energy levels up. We often take a few empty paper sweet bags and let the sweet fairy hide sweets for them to find when we go on adventures.
- Alcohol - it would be rude for the grown ups not enjoy their treats too.
- Tea/coffee, sugar and milk.
- Sauces - ketchup / HP, whatever your fancy.
Depending on where you are staying and for how long, do a local shop for a BBQ and do picnic sandwiches for lunch.
Toys and fun stuff - you don't need a lot they are going to be running around)
- Pack of cards, pen + paper. This will keep adults busy too.
- A few of their favourite soft toys.
- Creative, craft stuff: paper, stickers, colouring pens.
- Bug collector box, bug tweezers, bug/bird book for nature spotting.
- A game like bug bingo!
- Glow sticks for the evening.
- Stories to read by torch light.
Clothes - layers are key, as its worth remembering the nights can get super cold.
Shop our Moose Wave Arctic Cub hat here
- Shorts, tee, regular stuff for the day.
- Waterproof jacket
- All-in-one onesie for kids - we use this one in a size up.
- Flipflops / crocs - something that can quickly be slipped on and also work as shower shoes.
- Thermal PJS to keep warm and improve your chances of a good night’s sleep!
- Warm hat - A Little Hotdog Watson number for H, of course! See our winter collection here now.
- Sun hat - See our summer collection here.
- Long sleeved thin top for under pjs. Layer, layer, layer!
- Leggings or extra pjs
- Jogging bottoms
- Big knitted jumper or hoodie
- Vest for little ones
- Thick socks like welly socks, for cold feet.
- 1 more extra set of clothes than you'll think you need, it always rains!
- Swimming costumes
Muddy Puddles waterproof rainsuit - great to keep snuggly and dry!
Toiletries and medicine
- Antihistamine - someone will get bitten or stung, be prepared.
- Saline / saline wipes / cotton wool
- A thermometer (we always had one to hand when H was tiny)
- Bandages and tape - just in case.
- Tweezers in case of splinters
- Sunscreen and aftersun
- Shower gel, shampoo, conditioner - seems obvious but often we’ve forgotten one or the other!
- Anti bac gel for hands
- Face wipes
- Toothbrush with cover
Nice to haves
- Carpet for the tent. I thought this was a bit silly but it does really make it cosier under foot!
- Picnic blanket for any day trips.
- Extra groundsheet just in case
- Extra pillows (if they fit in your car)
- Beach Windbreak helps to create your own little area on the campsite.
- We always have campfires so we take wood, an axe and firestarters.
- A wardrobe - we’ve not got one yet but this is next on our list.
Food bug covers - another one on our shopping list!
Wow, when you look it at like that - we’re pretty much camping pros, aren’t we? It’s taken quite a while to get to know exactly what to take to make camping as enjoyable as possible and we keep simplifying as we go. But, if you’re warm, dry, the kids have marshmallows and space to run around, and the adults have a beer - everyone is usually super happy!
What’s on your camping survival list?
Author: Emma Watson is the owner of Little Hotdog Watson
Little Hotdog Watson is a kidswear brand with a difference. We make kids hats unlike any other by combining style + innovation. Our sun hats offer triple protection from UV, Mosquitoes and Overheating, while our winter hats are water resistant, reflective and extra cosy. Take a look at our hats here.
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