Our 9 Top Camping Tips
Camping is one of life’s great pleasures, as long as you’ve remembered the corkscrew. Here are our top tips for getting the most out of it.
1/ Bring friends
While camping with friends is all very nice, going with a group of friends and a pack of kids can be a whole lot of fun. Think of it as a weekend-long barbecue in camping clothes. While the kids turn feral, grown ups can share the cooking and camp chores over bottles of chilled fizz and a competitive game of tossing a ball around.
2/ Invest in a black out tent
If you plan on camping with under-fives, a black-out tent will save your sanity.
If not, say hello to dawn. There are a number of tents currently on the market which, rather ingeniously, come fitted with a black-out liner and will ensure that your little darlings will sleep past 5am. You can also make do by tacking large swathes of black-out material to your existing tent’s fly sheet.
3/ Don’t forget the rubber shoes
The humble rain boot is an essential piece of camping gear. Even when the sun shines campsites can get notoriously muddy. Deck out the whole family in a rainbow of Hunters and you’ll never suffer from swamp feet again. Pair with cut-off denims and a pair of Ray-Bans and the whole family could be rocking the model vibe this year.
4/ Camp bath time
While getting grubby is all part of the fun of camping, when you can’t actually identify your child under the layers of grime it might be worth investing in a makeshift tub. Pack a small inflatable tub or pool, fill it up early in the morning to give it a chance to heat up in the sun and chuck ’em in. For added, ahem, cleanliness bring a pile of super-soaker water guns and let loose on the kids.
5/ Movie night
Want some adult-only time? Pack the kids off to bed early with a portable DVD player for a movies night. Whip up a batch of camp popcorn using large sheets of tin foil, add a handful of popcorn and a splash of oil, fold over and twist the sides tightly shut. Make a little hook in the foil so the pouch can hang off a long stick and hold over the campfire. Once it stops popping it’s ready to eat.
6/ Private potty
While camp toilets have certainly improved over the years, you don’t want to spend half the weekend in one. If you have kids under five, build them a little private bathroom using a beach towel and a potty and set it behind the tent. You’ll appreciate it in the early hours when you don’t have to traipse a sleepy toddler halfway across the campsite for a quick bathroom break. Just don’t tell the men or they’ll want one too.
7/ Glamp it up
Camping is a competitive sport. You can spot beginners a mile off with their pristine gear and look of mild fear, but give it a year and they’ll be fashioning a three-piece suite out of hay bales before you can say “nice campsite!” Why not go the extra mile and bring some comfort to the campsite with blankets and pillows, or even string lights if you’re feeling extra fancy.
8/ Easy eating
Remember, dining al fresco doesn’t always have to involve the barbecue. For the first night bring a ready-made stew which just needs to be heated up and served with crusty bread. Risottos are a surprisingly easy dish to prepare on a gas stove and mostly only need canned basics. Many grocery stores now also do some really good ready-made meals which don’t need refrigerating and can easily be brought along.
Most importantly, don’t forget to pack a sense of humor. Two if you have a spare. Tempers will fray and blood pressures will rise (the setting up and packing down of a tent has been the cause of many a marriage breakdown). Just remember, camping is all about embracing the great outdoors and having fun in the sun with your loved ones. The occasional glass of wine helps too.