BY the time you read this, we should be back from our annual camping trip. For the few days before, I wasn’t in much of a holiday mood.
Getting ready for camping with kids is like mobilising a small army. Or at least involves searching every room in the house and spending a fortune on things you probably already had.
I’ve a few tips for those brave enough to take to the great outdoors during the summer break:
1. Take a high-sided travel cot for babies and an all-in-one snowsuit. It gets cold at night and the cot doubles as a playpen.
2. Buy readybeds for under sevens. (Preferably when they are on offer out of season). These are all in one airbeds and sleeping bags that fold up to the size of a football. It’s easier to persuade them into bed when there’s Tinkerbell or Buzz and Woody on the covers
3. Use ready-made formula milk cartons if camping with a baby. You can freeze them and keep in a coldbox to defrost slowly.
4. Wipes are your salvation against stinkiness. Baby wipes for bodies, antibac wipes for everywhere else. Hand-gel that cleans without water is essential.
5. Pack light, but for all weathers. You’ll need thick coats and woolly hats for night, foldable waterproofs for days. Slip on shoes to nip to the loo, wellies just because. While my sons would happily wear the same clothes to run about in and sleep in too, I insist on at least clean underwear and pyjamas. Shoes off at the door of the tent.
6. Solar fairy lights mark out your tent at night, and we have one of those flagpoles with a fish on top to help us navigate during the day.
7. Wind-up torches are noisy and don’t last long. Gas lamps sold in camping shops are a great investment, but keep out of reach of kids. Headtorches are a great invention. A solar radio will last far longer than your smartphone’s battery.
8. If you’re cooking in camp, do it on a proper stove. A disposable barbecue won’t heat the kettle. Mornings are more manageable with a cup of tea to hand
9. Use bribes, bribes and more bribes. Colouring pads, comics, sweets, crisps – whatever it takes.
10. Be relaxed. Yes, it’s dirty, the food’s cold and you’re missing Eastenders. Get over it, let the kids go feral and crack open the box of cheap wine. You’re on holiday.