Stress-Free Family Camping


Why go on family camping holidays?

If you’re considering taking the kids camping – whether you’re doing a staycation or travelling to another country – read on to find out some of the real benefits of family camping holidays.

  • The kids can get active in the open air and lots of space

  • They can explore the natural world, from beaches to moorlands and forests

  • There are lots of new experiences, from sleeping in a tent to helping to build a campfire

  • Kids might make new friends at the site, especially of there’s a pool or a kids’ club

  • Taking kids camping is cost-effective in comparison with hotel holidays

Kids can get active on family camping holidays (Vitolda Klein / Unsplash)

Here are some suggestions on how to research your family camping trip, what to pack, how to keep the kids entertained, and how to make sure your stay on site is a successful one.

Top tips for a relaxing family camping break

Family camping holidays can be magical, full of bonding experiences and memorable moments – or they can be fraught affairs marred by sleepless nights and short tempers. Thankfully there are some simple ways to make sure that your family break works, and a little planning can get you a long way. 

Here are our 16 top tips on creating a happy camping trip with the kids…

Do your planning

  • Buy the right tent. Don’t underestimate how much room you’ll need. While a family of four might have room to sleep in a four-man tent, that leaves very little room for storing luggage, getting dressed or sheltering from rainy weather. If possible, aim for spare covered space if you can, such as a porch area on the tent or some sort of separate cover like a gazebo.
  • Practice makes perfect. Have a trial run on putting your tent up in the garden at home. That way you’ll be able to cope when you get to the campsite, and you can also check that all the equipment is there and that nothing is broken or defective. 
  • Pick your site carefully. You all need time to relax, not just the kids. Pick your campsite wisely so the kids can have their freedom in safety: look out for places that don’t allow cars on pitches, or have a secure play area not too far from the pitches.
  • Ask friends along. Go camping with kids and they’ll often make new friends on the campsite – but that’s not guaranteed, especially with teens. If you’ve got youngsters resisting the idea of a family break, why not invite one of their friends along too? And the same goes for you – the more adults you have on the trip, the more people there are to keep an eye on younger kids.

Search for family-friendly campsites

How to pack for a family camping holiday

  • Write a checklist. Getting the packing right for family camping breaks will seem less daunting if you have a checklist – and make it exhaustive. Start with headers including the tent and sleeping bags; clothes; food and eating utensils; toiletries; and activities for the kids, and expand your list from there.

  • Plan ahead with the food. The key to eating well on a camping trip is to keep it simple. Picnics, barbecues and easy-cook staples like baked beans or pasta make life easy for you. Cooking on a campfire is one of the best parts of camping, but it is not the quickest way of getting food on the table, so make sure you bring plenty of snacks to keep everyone going between meals.

  • Take some ear plugs. Family-friendly campsites shouldn’t be particularly noisy by night but giving your kids foam ear plugs to use at night will hopefully mean they won’t be disturbed by conversations around the firepit or other kids running around past bedtime – and they might come in handy for you too, when you need a bit of peace. 

  • Pack lots of layers. It’s easy to forget how chilly it can get – even on summer evenings – so be sure to pack layers, and plenty of them. Chunky socks, big jerseys, a cosy fleece and woolly hats will keep you all warm around the campfire – and don’t forget wet-weather gear as well. 

  • Take some torches. When you get to the campsite, ask for a pitch near the toilets so no one has to walk too far in the dark or in an emergency. Anyone old enough to walk to the toilet and back in the dark without tripping over tent poles or getting lost should be given a torch or a headband with a torch on it.

Make sure you pack clothes for all occasions (Ben Wicks / Unsplash)

How to keep the kids entertained

  • Plan days out you will all enjoy. There are many hours to fill on a family camping holiday, and sooner or later the kids will resort to their phones if you don’t distract them. A little forward planning before you leave home will help you out here, so research local kid-friendly attractions like zoos and theme parks for family days out, find out how far it is to the beach, or look up the nearest easy hiking trail.

  • Take distractions for the kids. Pack a football, a kite, a bubble maker or a nature-spotting book – anything to anticipate and head off moments of boredom when you’re on site. If you’re after ideas for easy – and free – ways to entertain kids on an outdoor break, check out Pitchup’s list of games to play with kids.

  • Have back-ups planned for rainy days. Pack family quizzes, board games or a pack of cards for any rainy days, especially if you’re in a tent rather than a motorhome with electricity and TV. Bring chargers and extra batteries for consoles and phones so the kids can play games, and it’s also a good idea to find out where the nearest cinema, swimming pool or bowling alley is, in case bad weather persists.

How to have family fun on site

  • Get everybody involved. Enlist the help of the whole family when pitching the tent, or ask kids to fetch firewood or water. Kids love new experiences and mostly love to help – so if you have teens, carefully and safely show them how to light a campfire too.

  • Glamp up the tent. Family camping doesn’t have to be a spartan experience, so how about packing a couple of strings of solar-powered fairy lights, a few cushions or some cosy blankets to make your tent feel more like home? Or maybe a hammock to relax in?

  • Spend time as a family. Family camping breaks give you the chance to escape your busy everyday lives and reconnect with the kids – so take the time to play games with them and plan daily adventures together. Explore your surroundings, talk, laugh – and above all, have fun.

  • Take time out for yourself. And remember – you all need time to relax, not just the kids. Look for sites with activities: at farm campsites there might be a nature trail or animal feeding, or at bigger parks, kids’ clubs might offer an hour of crafts or a cooking session… the kids will love it, and you’ll get a bit of time to yourself.

Not picked the ideal base for your family camping trip yet? Have a look at our family-friendly campsites and holiday parks around the world.

Check out family-friendly campsites across the world

Pack a hammock for kid to relax in (🇸🇮 Janko Ferlič / Unsplash)

FAQs for camping with the family

Why should you take your family camping?

Family camping breaks are a chance for you all to bond and get active in the fresh air, enjoy new experiences and maybe make some new friends. In comparison with hotel holidays, they are also quite affordable.

How can I find family-friendly campsites?

Pitchup has thousands of options for family camping holidays across the UK, Northern Ireland and Europe, as well as further afield. Simply browse our range of family-friendly campsites and use the filters or location tools to find an ideal spot for you and your family.

How do I pack for a family camping trip?

Be sure to do plenty of research into where you’re going, what sort of tent is right for you and what to pack. Do you fancy all sitting around a campfire at night, and are you taking the dog too? Considering extra aspects like this will help you make sure you have all the right kit.