Camping is a rite of passage for families. The fresh air and freedom, the marshmallows and sausages, the fun of sleeping outdoors. It’s something no child should grow up without experiencing. But where British camping used to mean a wet tarpaulin in a field, the options these days are as diverse as they are numerous. From bivouacs on a mountain, to glamping in a kingsize bed, there’s absolutely no reason to compromise on your perfect night with the kids under the stars. We talked to committed family campers to find out what their ideal camping trip looks like, and why.
The ‘Proper’ Camper – Cerys, from Travelled So Far
Cerys is a fan of the type of camping you imagine when first decide on a family camping break. Packing up your own tent and camping equipment, and heading for an organised campsite, where you’re doing it yourself, but are surrounded by others, and with proper facilities. Cerys says,
“I love organised campsites, especially when camping with kids, because you know that there will be other families there that the kids will quickly become friends with. Instead of wild camping there is running water, warm showers and laundry if needed. You often have a shop or the campsites are close to a village store and pub ideal for relaxed family holidays unplugged and together.”
The Wild Campers
Gretta, from Mums do Travel took a bushcraft adventure, sleeping in a hammock in the woods. Here’s how she describes it:
“The hammock envelopes me and I’m surprised at how snug and cosy I feel. The air is fresh on the skin on my face but every other part of me is cocooned and warm. I like the feeling of the hammock swaying at the slightest movement.”
Gretta had a guide and a leader to help set up in camp, but Laura, from Have Kids, Can Travel is happy to pitch up in a field – and pitch! Laura says:
“As a family we love the freedom of wild camping. We’re not terribly big on rules, and we’re really not big on sharing our holiday spaces with other people. Busy sites filled with other families camping 10′ away, having to show my polite and friendly public face the second I step out of the tent for an urgent morning wee… and lots of organised activities frankly fill us with horror! As long as there’s running water, then we’re good to go – the freedom and unstructured nature of a few days or weeks that are as wild as we can make them (I do take hot water bottles, we’re not *total* savages) is an exhilarating antidote to modern life. And because we’re happy to do without what most people would consider to be essentials on a family holiday, we often have places to ourselves; free to swim in the river, have fires in the evenings, sit out uninterrupted and call to the owls – it’s a quiet slice of solitary heaven that allows our family to unfurl into itself, to connect and explore and to wake up feeling like every day is an adventure.”
The Easy Life Camper – Helen, from Space In Your Case
Helen’s whole family love camping, but what she hates is the packing, the hassle of pitching the tent and getting set up, and worse still, emptying the equipment out of the car and back into its rightful place on their return. Not to mention filling the car to the rooftop, only to arrive and find she’s missing something essential – like good coffee! Helen recently stayed at Old Bidlake Farm, and has been raving about it ever since. Not only are the generously-sized bell tents pre-pitched, with futons laid out ready for guests, but there are lots of other small touches that make camping (and the packing beforehand) much easier – including some great creature comforts. She says it’s the ultimate in hassle-free camping.
The Luxury Glamper – Nisbah, from Five Adventurers
Nisbah loves the theory of camping, but she knows that it’s harder than it looks when you have young children, so she’s opted for the increasingly popular practice of ‘glamping,’ with her family. Her descriptions of luxury camping at Lanterns and Larks are giving us envy!
“I use the term ‘tent’ loosely as it is much better described as a canvas house, it truly is luxury camping of the highest standard. The tents were stunning, with so many amenities that are great to have on hand when you are travelling with children, the biggest advantage being your own bathroom perfect for the midnight toilet runs! Each tent comes with three bedrooms and can sleep up to 6 people… I think once you “camp” like this going back to the traditional pole and material tents will be hard going.”
The Caravanner – Claire, from Tin Box Traveller
Camping doesn’t have to be about tents though. Claire catalogues her travels in a caravan on her aptly-named blog Tin Box Traveller, and says she gets all the benefits of camping, with none of the downsides:
Space In Your Case‘s Penny agrees; Penny and her family loved their epic trip this year round Scotland in a motorhome, and says that smaller living quarters and a sense of shared adventure really brought her family closer together.
So what kind of camper are you? Share your camping tales with us, or let us know if you’ve been inspired by one of our campers here. And if you’re thinking of taking your first camping trip, check out Kirsty Pelling’s list of camping mistakes to avoid before you go. Kirsty shares some hairy moments from her own travels, and gives us all food for thought!