What are the 10 essential items to take camping this summer? As we find ourselves still in the grips of the Coronavirus pandemic, many people are looking to change their holiday plans to stay closer to home. In May, it was reported by the BBC that “Google search interest for campsites is at its highest since September, and retailer Go Outdoors said online camping sales were up 460% last week on a year ago.”
So what nuggets of information can I possibly share that will help make your camping trip more comfortable? This picture was probably taken in the mid 1970’s. I am the small, bouffant-haired toddler who seems to be about to lick that knife! I share this because I would like to think that after over 40 years of experience camping, I can be declared a seasoned camper.
My parents first took me camping in a heavy blue canvas tent that my dad had borrowed. They actually dismantled my cot, brought it with them and reassembled it in that field in Langton Matravers, Dorset. I would still highly recommend this area for a British camping holiday, but these days, thank heavens, you can bring a much more portable sleeping option for your baby.
I am very grateful to my parents for their adventurous nature, taking three small children camping, not only in the UK, but to France, Germany, Austria and Luxembourg. It ignited my love of travel and foreign languages.
Camping is absolutely my favourite time with my family. I can see that to some, the idea of having to traipse to the shower block and sleep under canvas, is not their idea of fun. In my opinion, it’s all about how comfortable you make it for yourself. I do not camp without an electric hook up point, I like to check that the washing facilities are clean and modern. Beyond that, its all down to bringing the correct stuff. So I have had a ponder and compiled my list of absolute necessities.
Let’s be honest, you aren’t going to need your change of clothes each night for a meal at the captain’s table or to go to the hotel dining room. You might well decide to eat out, so something smarter is needed for that, but most of the time, practical is better. It doesn’t mean you have to dress like you’re off on an expedition though. I pack everything from jeans to shorts to dresses.
My absolute must-have suggestions are :
Trainers or practical sandals for all that great outdoor walking you are going to do.
Flip flops and dare I suggest Crocs (!) for the trip to the shower block. There is nothing worse than wrestling your still damp feet into socks whilst standing on one leg in a damp shower cubicle. Stick your flip flops or crocs on and get in, get out!
Slippers or big socks for inside the tent. You don’t want to be dragging all that grass in and out. Have these ready by the door.
Regardless of the time of year – a hoodie or big sweatshirt. There is nothing nicer than sitting outside your tent in the early morning with your coffee, in your big hoodie, watching the world wake up. We often sit out late at night too, once the children have gone to bed and in summer, even in the south of France, it can get a bit cooler. Layers are key.
A bad night’s sleep is guaranteed to ruin any holiday. Once you get this correct, I guarantee, the fresh air and slower pace of a camping holiday will mean you have the best sleep of your life.
The old days of the canvas, metal-framed beds are long gone. Our trailer tent offers us the relative luxury of a bed off the ground and a proper mattress. If i was buying an airbed today, I would opt for the self inflating, deep mattresses, such as the one in the picture. The one in the picture can be bought at Go Outdoors. No more crawling around the floor in the dark and the built in pump saves all that exhausting leg work.
4. Cosy bedding
Whether it be a decent quality sleeping bag, a spare duvet or extra pillows make sure you make your bed cosy. Take a couple of extra fleece blankets and if you can find one, even a hot water bottle. You will all be glad you did.
Comfort is key to a decent camping holiday. Practical solutions to keeping your new home tidy, means you are more comfortable all round.
5. Brush ,maybe hand held hoover, bowl and bucket.
Walking around in an environment full of bits of grass becomes a bit depressing, especially if that makes it’s way into your bed! shiver! Get some little doormats to catch most of the grass and mud, then invest in a little hoover or brush to get rid of anything that still makes the way in. A bowl or bucket will take your dishes to be washed, be useful for cleaning up and can even become a baby bath!
6. Decent table and chairs and all electric gadgets.
No-one wants to be grovelling around on the ground to eat their meal. If you have the room, get a decent sized foldaway table and some sturdy, comfortable chairs. It will make all the difference. Consider how low down you will be at the table, when choosing your camping chair. Otherwise you will be just a pair of eyes peering above the edge.
We choose to have a pitch with electric hook-up. This means we take a toaster, kettle, lamps, hairdryer, straighteners, the children’s gadgets, a heater and a fan. Most importantly, we take an electric cool box to keep the milk, meat and of course alcohol cool. With all these things we are extremely comfortable.
7. General box of bits!
- tin opener
- bottle opener
- decent cutlery
- plastic plates, bowls, cups, glasses ( I like real ones) and pans.
- tin foil
- antibacterial wipes
- bin liners
- first aid kit
- fly swat
- citronella candles
- antiseptic cream
- antihistamines ( if you need them)
- tea towel ( I always forget)
- children’s games, toys, colouring
8. Food essentials
Tins ( soup, beans, veggies, fruit, random tin of stew or chilli, when you can’t be bothered)
Dried goods – ( pasta, rice, cereal)
Those rather expensive, but handy for holidays multi packs of cereal. It means a box isn’t left open and the children think its amazing as I am too mean to buy them otherwise
Depending where you are camping, you might want bottled water, but we have always found the water fine.
Again, this is all about being comfortable. When we were children, my parents used a little Calor Gaz lamp. I remember my dad fiddling around with the wick and my mum scared we were going to burn in our beds! If you ensure you use a pitch with electric hook-up, you can have a fantastic array of lighting options. You will want main lighting for the living areas, torches and little night lights, especially if you have children.
You can also festoon your tent with beautiful battery-powered fairy lights. this also serves as a guide home when you have to make the nighttime trip to the loo!
10. Bathroom arrangements!
Last, but definitely not the least important! Personally, even when we had a camper with a shower and loo, we have found it easier to use the on-site facilities. For this reason, we choose very wisely where we go. A decent shower block is clean, well equipped and regularly maintained. I really prefer this option to trying to shower in a tiny space and having to empty a portaloo! However, there are a variety of options, even a pop up shower tent and little shower if you’re off the beaten track. This might be most helpful in the midst of the Covid crisis, because many campsites, despite being open, are not opening their shower blocks.
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