How to survive and enjoy camping with young children

This article will provide tips on how to survive and enjoy camping with young children. Our eldest adventurer Charlie was two when we first went camping.  We were apprehensive about the weekend and worried that he may keep the entire campsite up all night.  We have since taken him and our youngest son, Harry, on numerous camper van and caravan holidays, and weekend stays in a pod and tent which shows we clearly enjoyed our first experience of camping …. or just have very poor memories!

Our son did wake up at the absolute crack of dawn on our first morning of camping and then crashed during the day after a long walk in his pushchair.  I managed to lift him out of his pushchair and lie him on his mattress and he had a long nap in the tent whilst we relaxed in the sunshine….. yes we went camping in the Wales and were lucky enough to have some sunshine! 


Image – Charlie crashed out napping after an early morning start!

I feel the key to enjoying a camping holiday with children is not to expect it to be like a camping holiday before you had children!  The endless hours spent chatting away over a BBQ, drinking wine and enjoying being in the peaceful countryside….. well those days have well and truly gone!  What you should expect is a super-duper charged up energetic child/children whom you need to keep your eyes on constantly!  

Although the experience is completely different… hours spent feeding the farm-yard animals, fishing with nets in the nearby streams and supervising endless hours of stick collecting (is it just my son who does this?!) are much more memorable.


The key to enjoying and surviving a camping holiday is be prepared.  Put your tent up in advance and make sure you have everything you need before arriving at your campsite in the middle of nowhere and then having to trek for miles for some tent pegs!  


Secondly, consider camping close to home (this is particularly important if you are camping for the first time with your child).   Last weekend, for our first time camping with both boys, we chose a fairly local campsite – Croft Farm Waterpark in Tewkesbury.  The boys did not care… there was a playground, a lake and lots of open fields for them to explore.  However, we knew that if it all went horribly wrong (torrential rain, baby Harry keeping the entire campsite up all night, etc, etc!)  we could just pack up our tent and drive home.  

Thirdly, pack something to keep your child safely contained whilst at the campsite.  Campsites can be dangerous places with little ones.  As a parent you will need to be on high alert thinking about –

* Open fires/BBQ’s/Stoves which seem to be a magnet for little fingers

* Guy ropes and tent pegs which are perfectly placed tripping hazards for toddlers who cannot sit still

* Cars zipping around between tents and caravans

* Other campers pet dogs which may not always be as friendly as your child expects them to be

It is easy to see how accidents can happen if you do not have a safe place to contain an excitable toddler whilst you pitch your tent/make dinner etc.   When we camped with Harry at the age of four months we took his bouncy chair with us and Bumbo seat.  As he became more mobile we progressed to his walker which we secured in a small area to stop him going exploring on his own!  (His walker also doubled up as a high chair as the toys on the tray could be unattached).  

On our most recent camping trip last weekend (with Harry who is now 14 months old) we took his travel cot with us to use as a play pen during the day and his bed at night.  We also took a high chair.   I think a high chair is an essential piece of kit for camping with little ones.  If your child/children are anything like my boys you will get at least 45 minutes of peace and relaxation around your camp whilst your little one enjoys each meal!

Essential kit for camping with a baby or young child

Lastly, have an adequate supply of favourite toys and books.  The key to surviving and enjoying camping with young children is to make sure you pack enough of your childs’ most treasured toys (and some new novelty ones too!)  This will allow you to have some downtime to do a little of the things you used to enjoy doing BC (before children!)… i.e. reading a book, enjoying a glass of wine!  If this means popping toddler into a travel cot with a few toys/camping pan & wooden spoon, or revealing a few new sticker or activity books, for some quiet time after a day exploring, then do it and do not feel guilty about it!  

Whenever we go camping we always make a little snug in the tent complete with toddler snacks, teddies, books etc and pop on the iPad with a few pre downloaded favourite cartoons. (Thomas the Tank Engine the Movie is fabulous for little train fans as it is over an hour-long… pure bliss!)  Remember everyone needs to recharge batteries, especially when sleeping on an air bed and being woken up at the crack of dawn!

For tips on what to pack see – Essential packing list for camping and glamping with a baby and/or young child 

I would love to hear your tips on how to survive and enjoy camping with young children!  Please comment below – 



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