Choosing a tent
If you’re hiring a campervan or cabin it’s easy enough to select your preferred lodgings online at the holiday park website, but we’re talking tents here. There are basically two types of tent: hiking tents, which are small and light enough for folks to carry strapped to their backpacks; and touring or family tents, which are bigger for longer, more comfortable stays.
First timers will want the more spacious family tents which kids and adults can easily walk around in. It’s not much fun squeezing into a tiny tent and having to lie down all day if it rains. A tent with an annex or which separates into two or more rooms is ideal. Allocating one as the entrance to store gear and food plus using it like a foyer to take off muddy boots or wet swimmers will enable you to keep the second room clean, dry, and cosy for sleeping.
In regards to size, for a family of four we recommend at least a five man tent for a comfortable sleep. Look for a tent with built in floors in all rooms to keep out the wet and fly-mesh doors and windows to keep the bugs at bay.
You can hire a tent until you determine whether the camping life is for you or, better still, borrow one – you’ll be surprised how many are sitting around unused in people’s garages.
You can hire a tent until you determine whether the camping life is for you or, better still, borrow one – you’ll be surprised how many are sitting around unused in people’s garages. Ask for a detailed description on how to assemble the tent before you take it but if you do get into trouble, just ask your neighbouring campers for help, they’re usually a friendly enough bunch, ready to pitch in.
What to take
There’s a lot to remember when packing for a camping trip which is why many regular campers have their gear set up and ready to go in a camping box. Others have well-used lists – one of which we’ve supplied at the end of this article.
Clothing should be casual and okay to get messy in. Be prepared for both cold and hot weather, bed socks, beanies and thermals are comforting additions on chilly nights. In summer don’t forget the hats and beachwear. Two pairs of shoes are a good idea in case one pair gets wet, as is wet weather gear so the family can still move around outdoors if it rains.
It’s important to use a sleeping bag rated to the climate you’ll be camping in or you’ll end up cold. For good quality sleeping bags, speak to your local camping shop for advice. Don’t purchase the cheap kiddies ones from big name stores, they are more suited to sleepovers inside your house.
Cooking is one of the joys of camping – food just tastes better outside. Embrace this and spoil your tastebuds. There’s no need to scrimp on food unless you’re backpack camping (carrying all your gear on your back) which as a first-timer with a family, we don’t recommend. So take along your favourite chocolates, bring your coffee plunger and indulge!
When planning your menu don’t over-complicate things by planning dishes with heaps of ingredients that need hours of preparation. An easier idea is to pre-prepare your meals and simply heat them up on the night.
Also don’t underestimate the ease and tastiness of fresh meat and vegetables tossed in a little olive oil, seasoning and thrown directly onto the barbecue.
For snacks, popcorn is a good; it’s small, light and watching it pop will amuse the kids. Dried fruit and nut mixes are a good pick-me-up for the young ones and lovely to nibble on with a drink before dinner.