This is going to be the year, the year that you have a successful family camping adventure. One that ends with everyone driving home thinking the same thing – “We’ve got to do that again”! But how can you make sure the holiday is a success? Here are 8 easy and effective family camping ideas for a great trip.
1. Find the Middle Ground
You might want a quiet, relaxing place under the trees. The kids might be more interested with splashing in water teeming with other kids.
If that’s the case, focus on finding a place that meets at least one of everyone’s wants. Remember, just because it’s a family vacation, you don’t have to spend every waking moment together. That old adage can be as true in the wilderness as it is anywhere, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.”
If your children want to spend time in the water, maybe choose a small campsite with a small lake or pool, so you can easily keep an eye on them. Or if you choose a bigger campsite, pick one that has supervised activities so that they can go do their thing while you do yours.
We have thousands of campsites in Europe listed on Campsited and a huge range of search filters to allow you to find the ones that best fulfil your criteria – so use them!
2. Set Aside an Hour a Day for Family Time
If you have children of all ages, they are going to want to do all sorts of different activities on holidays. And so they should.
But as this is a family vacation you need to make sure that the family is getting time together to recharge relationships. Instead of forcing everyone to do everything, set aside just one period of time everyday where everyone can be together.
Maybe it’s right after breakfast or make it the hour before dinner. If you want, you can even assign a day to a child and make them responsible for the activity of the day. You may be surprised at what they come up with. And whether it’s hiking or sitting by the campfire playing games, you’ll know that they’re doing what they want, while you’re getting what you want – family time together.
“Take only what you need” is often the motto on vacation. But when it’s a family camping trip, taking a little bit more can make all the difference in the world, especially if you’re travelling in your own car and you can. Extra clothes, extra crafts, extra snacks, extra games – being prepared for the unexpected can make the difference in turning the tables on a potentially volatile toddler moment.
4. Old Traditions vs. New Memories
Is a family camping trip a time-honoured tradition in your family? Something that you did as a child and are excited to start doing with your own children?
While that’s a perfectly lovely sentiment, it’s important to remember that memories are not always an accurate record of history. Before you try and recreate your camping history, you should spend some time on reflecting what exactly made those trips so important to you in the first place.
Then, rather than trying to recreate those moments from your youth, find new ways to be with your family that will create those same warm memories in them.
5. Plan Meals
People who don’t camp often are always surprised by how much food you go through when you’re sleeping out under the stars. There’s just something about being outside that makes you hungry. So don’t let hangriness ruin your trip – have loads of supplies, both healthy snacks and emergency meal ingredients (think nuts, cereal bars, bags of pasta and jars of pasta sauce).
In the run-up to your camping holiday, plan what you’ll be doing regarding meals every day. This could be part of your bonding time, with each child getting a chance to plan and cook a meal on their assigned day for the entire family. Don’t forget to pack all the utensils, herbs and spices you’ll need to prepare that meal.
Some campgrounds will have restaurants or food trucks, which make for a nice change and can free up time. But make sure you’re covered for emergencies!
6. Be Flexible
We’ve been extolling the virtues of planning ahead and, while that’s important, it’s also important to retain some flexibility.
Things are going to come up: Nature might wash out your plans one day. On another day, a tour you were planning to take might be cancelled but an adventurous hike added.
Decide which of your planned moments (like a set hour for family time) are set in stone and be prepared for flexibility around the others. Great adventures and memorable moments almost always start from taking a wrong turn.
7. Look Past the Trees
Don’t forget the vast variety of activities available when you’re out camping, there are often many great things to see and do right outside the campsite, waiting for you. You can plan ahead by booking an activity day out near your holiday destination, using our activity finder. Or you can check out the Destinations and Kids x Destinations sections of the Campsited blog for ideas of places to visit nearby.
Your day trip can be really simple but create great memories all the same. A few years ago my family and I went camping and about a half an hour away was a small town with a classic town square. We spent a memorable afternoon walking through shops, eating ice cream and playing on the green. It was one of the things we all remember very well from the trip.
8. Define What Camping Means to You
This is a big one – what amenities will you look for in a campsite vs. not tolerate from the family? Is a pool a deal-breaker? Will devices be allowed? Is showering every day a necessity?
Camping comes in many flavours. You’ll get the most success from your family camping trip if you know what you want but also set the ground rules for the trip at large.
This is a hard thing to do, as so many kids see their phones in particular as an extension of their personas. Given this, perhaps you could compromise and regulate screen-time so that it’s a set period every day.
This gives them some control, knowing when they will be able to talk with their friends allows some independence and it also helps you avoid playing smartphone referee.
All set for planning your family camping trip
We just looked at 8 easy ways you can turn a family camping trip into the year’s best memories.
When you’re ready to plan that trip, just head to our campsite search engine and make it happen!