The ultimate family camping checklist – with a few great tips
Prepare to take your family away for a fun-filled camping trip in France using our checklist, which has been designed by our experienced team to help you prepare for your next adventure – whether that’s in Brittany, Nantes, or Montpellier. During the planning stages of your holiday, having an idea of what you will need to bring can help you make important decisions, like whether to book a pitch or a rentable accommodation option, whether to drive to your campsite or take public transport, and what activities to do during your trip. If you’ve already booked your trip, you can use our family camping checklist to make packing as easy as possible and to make sure you don’t forget any important items. We know travelling with children can be stressful, especially if you don’t have much time to prepare in advance. It can be difficult to know what to bring, even if you have been on plenty of camping trips, but we have you covered – from basics and essentials, to seasonal items and specialist equipment. Whether you’re daydreaming about your next camping trip, have taken some time off work, or are all booked in and ready to go, use our checklist to make any necessary purchases and enjoy having a bit more time to focus on what really matters, getting excited for your next adventure with your family, packing up the car together and setting off stress-free and ready to make amazing memories.
Useful information to consider when packing for a family camping trip
Narrow down your family camping checklist with valuable packing advice.
Finding the right campsite
There are a range of campsites in locations throughout France available to book through Campsited. It’s a good idea to pick a campsite to suit your family’s interests, for example, camping near rivers or streams if you have teenagers who want to try some adrenaline-inducing water sports. Once you have taken note of the sorts of activities available in and near your campsite, it will be easier to start shortlisting items for your trip.
Reusing old camping gear
If you have camping gear from previous camping trips, most of it can be re-used for your family camping trip to France. It is possible to purchase specialist camping gear for children, like children’s sleeping bags or mats, but if you already have an adult one spare, we definitely recommend re-using it, especially if it’s your child’s first trip. Successfully packing for a family camping trip with children is just about adding some carefully picked items to your regular camping gear.
Investing in specialist clothing and footwear
It’s worth investing in a couple of key items of clothing for the family, like quick-drying, lightweight and breathable inner and outer layers, which will save room in your bag and also give you a range of different options to layer, depending on the weather. With footwear, consider the temperature and terrain and buy season-specific and high-quality shoes for the family. It’s also best to choose specific hiking or outdoor socks.
Night-time safety when camping with children
It’s important to make sure children feel safe at night in a new environment. Popular light options include glow sticks, which children can wear when it gets dark so you can spot them easily, torches, which can be used for going to the bathroom at night, and headlamps, which can be used for navigating campsites at night, or can be put around an item in the tent to act as a lantern. You can also purchase specific battery, solar-powered, or rechargeable camping lights, which you should consider for your family camping trip to France. Don’t forget charging devices or extra batteries, as required.
Bringing children’s equipment for activities
If you already have sports or safety equipment for your child, it can be useful to bring these with you, as it is not always easy to rent options that fit your child exactly or that they are comfortable in. It’s very important that equipment like bike helmets and life jackets fit properly, so we recommend bringing these along. If you’re short on space, prioritise bringing children’s equipment, as adults can usually rent equipment from campsites or local activity centres in France.
Making your tent child-friendly
Children can trip over guy-ropes easily, so it is worth either buying some glow-in-the-dark ones or using something brightly coloured to mark where the ropes are pegged into the ground, for example cutting up a foam pool noodle and using this. It’s also a good idea to bring equipment you can use to set up a hand-washing station outside of your tent, we recommend using a water jug with a spout for this.
Anticipating potential challenges
When packing for your family camping trip it is important to anticipate potential problems ahead of time. For example, if you are driving long distances with young children, it is worth considering bringing a travel toilet, or if you are travelling with teenagers that wake up later than the rest of the family, bring ear plugs so they can sleep in.
Making the most of nature
Camping trips are an amazing way to experience nature and there are certain things that you can bring with you to get the family fully involved. We recommend a star map or a nature guidebook to identify constellations, birds and flowers during your trip in France.
Tips for picking out and packing family camping essentials
Discover some of our top tips on what items to pack for your family trip.
Consider camping gear for different accommodation types
If you want to stay in a tent, you will need sleeping bags, sleeping mats, a camping pillow, as well as the tent itself. Additional items to consider include chairs, a foldable table, a clothesline, something to use as a sun shade, a stove, and cooking equipment. If you’re staying in rentable accommodation these items will usually be provided and you may even be able to request other camping essentials for children, like cots and high chairs.
Remember entertainment options for kids
Whilst nearly all campsites bookable through Campsited offer on-site evening entertainment options in the summer months, it’s worth bringing additional games and toys when camping with children. We recommend a board game, books and headphones. You can also encourage kids to get creative and document their trip in a special diary bought for the purpose, either in writing or by drawing a picture each day of the nature they have seen or things they have done.
Don’t forget health and hygiene items
When travelling with children we recommend bringing baby wipes and hand sanitiser, as well as first aid items like plasters, bite cream, paracetamol, etc. Certain campsites in France offer shower gel and shampoo at their shower facilities, so it’s worth checking in advance to see if you can save some room here. If you do want to bring your own shampoo and shower gel, we recommend bringing one set to share between the family or dispensing it into smaller bottles, which are usually less likely to leak once open.
Select essential food, drink, and kitchen items
Many campgrounds available through Campsited have bars, restaurants, shops and drinkable water on site, as well as shared barbecue areas or individual barbecues for rent. Cooking over a campfire can be a great activity to enjoy as a family, so it’s worth checking out if this is on offer at your campsite and packing the barbecue implements if it is.
Remember items for different seasons
There are certain family camping essentials that are specific to each season. In the summer months remember to pack suntan lotion with a high SPF for children, as well as beach toys, sunglasses, swimming gear, arm bands or inflatables, and a summer hat. In the winter, a warm, high-quality coat and lighter rain jacket are essential for all the family, as well as warm socks, a hat, gloves and extra entertainment options like colouring books and playing cards, in case of bad weather.
Common questions about family camping essentials
Get quick answers to some frequently asked questions about what to bring on a family camping trip.
Is it worth doing a trial run in the garden?
If you’re camping with children for the first time it’s definitely a good idea to do a trial run in the garden to make sure they are comfortable and know what to expect on the trip. This can also be a good exercise to help decide what to pack from the family camping checklist, for example children might feel more comfortable with extra lighting, or their favourite toy or book.
What size tent is suitable for a family?
When camping as a family it’s best to look for a larger tent with compartments or dividers, which you can utilise as the kids get older. There are also other design features you should look out for, like multiple entry points, storage areas, side pockets, a front porch area and reflective guy-ropes.
Should I borrow equipment from friends?
If you’re camping as a family for the first time, it can be a good idea to borrow equipment from friends. Once you get back from your first amazing trip, you can invest in the equipment you need and make family camping trips a regular thing. It’s always better to have the right equipment for the weather conditions and terrain, so we only recommend borrowing equipment if it’s suitable for your specific campsite in France.
Do campsites have facilities for kids?
Most of the campsites in France have specific facilities for children, like swimming pools, kids’ clubs and outdoor play areas. It’s worth researching what facilities are available at your chosen campsite before deciding what to pack, as well as checking how close the nearest village or town is where you may be able to rent or buy additional items.
How should I pack for a family camping trip?
It’s best to pack in advance for your camping trip in France, giving yourself a couple of days to remember any last things you may have forgotten. Get the whole family involved to help with the packing, to get them excited for the trip and ensure you have the things they will want. Once you have been on your first camping trip to France, the packing process will get quicker each time and you will be an expert on what to bring in no time.
Now that you’re prepared, it’s time to set off on your camping trip in France!