Camping with toddlers is usually the go-to thing to do when you have a break with your little ones but can't think of where to take them. It gives you an easy escape and allows your kids the freedom to explore nature in a safe environment. The UK is riddled with loads of parks and woodlands curated for families with young kids to enjoy activities irrespective of the weather.
The great thing nowadays is that there is something for everyone irrespective of your individual preference – from babies and toddlers to teenagers and adults. If you are looking to going on a camping trip with toddlers or older kids, these camping tips will ensure you don't arrive the campsite and find out you have the wring items packed and forgot the essentials.
Camping with Toddlers Checklist UK
There is nothing like a camping trip to immerse you in the wonder of nature, especially when camping with toddlers who have never experienced the outdoors before.
With that said, all it takes is a few missing items and supplies to put you on a downer and highlight your poor planning skills. The last thing you want to do is to make it all the way out into the woods or your campsite only to discover that you haven’t brought along the key supplies you need.
Everybody knows that you need the right supplies to make your camping trip fun and worth your while – especially if you plan on doing a bit of running while you're out there. What is not often understood is what to take with you and what supplies to have in your tent when camping with toddlers and older.
With that in mind, this is a look at the essentials you can't go wrong with if you pack it with you to help make your next family camping trip with your kids and toddlers, a success.
It is an obvious fact to parents out camping with their toddlers that having a torch is one of the basic essentials of camping – one often overlooked easier option is to have a head torch instead of a basic handheld torch?
One of the main advantages of it is that a head torch frees up your hands, allowing you and your kids enjoy cooking, making camp, to go hiking, reading and any other number of things that you would be unable to do with a handheld torch.
That doesn’t mean that if you have a handheld torch that it won't come in handy, but ensuring you have a decent head torch will definitely make your time out camping a lot more convenient.
Another benefit to having a head torch with you is that they are just basically easier to manage. While torches are not exactly high maintenance, you still have to worry about having to change the batteries if they run out. Good head torches are often rechargeable and are considered more efficient in their battery life and run time.
This Petzl REACTIK + head torch from Go Outdoors or this Black Diamond Icon Head Torch supplied by All Outdoor are great choices to have with you. The Petzl Reactik + head torch adjusts its brightness instantly to the level required, extending its battery life. The Black Diamond Icon Head Torch is waterproof to 1 metre and delivers an unparalleled 500-lumen output.
What’s more, they also offer different modes of vision. Not only are you able to illuminate the path ahead of you, but you can also flip over to night vision mode with red lights which are specially designed to help your eyes adjust to the lower visibility.
Finally, there is a massive range of fun kid-friendly head torches available on the market today from rock bottom prices. They come in different shapes and sizes and are quite versatile. If you’re looking for a way to make nighttime camping activities more family-friendly, follow the guiding light and allow your kids to show you the way.
Make no mistake – water is perhaps the most important thing you can bring with you on your camping trip. For those thinking you’ll simply take a drink from the lake or riverside – do you know what might have been swimming in that body of water? What animals (and fellow campers) might have used it as a bath – or toilet? The fact of the matter is that untreated water can be brackish, dirty, and disgusting at best, and bacterial, polluted, and hazardous at worst.
Even if you fancy yourself a true outdoorsman or woman who can drink down that water no problem, your kids’ immune systems likely aren’t as strong as yours. If you have finicky kids, they may not be thrilled about drinking water from a natural source (and as established above, they’re not entirely without reason there).
When you go for a hike, set up camp, or are otherwise away from a body of water, you’ll want to make sure you have some on hand. Kids are notorious for getting thirsty easily. You don’t want to hear “I’m thirsty” for miles on end with no water in sight.
All of this makes bringing plenty of bottled water for both you and your kids an absolute must.
Alongside water, this is about as obvious a camping supply as there is. Moreover, it should be obvious that you should always bring food with you rather than simply “assume” you’ll fish or forage for your dinner. Even if you think you could out-fish Ernest Hemingway or Ted Williams, sometimes the fish just aren’t having it and not taking the bait. Besides, it is important you are aware that with your kids with you, they will probably get hungry if you continue hiking for an extended length of time and want a snack.
That’s why it’s always a good idea to bring along snack foods that can be kept fresh, carried easily, and stored well with minimal effort.
Some of the best examples of camp-friendly snack foods include:
- Packets of dehydrated food, such as beef jerky, stroganoff, breakfast hash, and chicken fajitas
- Trail mix and assorted nuts
- Nutrition bars
- Dried fruit
- Bread, cheese, and sandwich-friendly meats
- Marshmallows, chocolate, and graham crackers for smores
Whatever you do, do not forget to bring along some decent tea bags. Easily forgotten, but every Englishman knows how important a cup of tea is.
One important note – definitely try and bring along a few utensils. Oftentimes, people overlook these basic necessities, thinking that just because they are eating outside means they won’t be needing them. You’ll certainly need some forks and knives to help you prepare and eat your catch if you've been doing some fishing as well.
These beech handle knives work a treat. They are the perfect companion to have with you when out camping
The most important thing to remember when it comes to dressing for camping is to be prepared for everything and anything. You don’t want to be caught on a warm muggy day with long sleeves and pants trapping heat and sweat against your skin, and you don’t want to shiver it out on a rainy, windy night because you failed to bring something warm.
The key thing is to remember to take one of these amazing waterproof jackets with you for your toddler(s).
Despite that, you should take with you a change of clothes. When you’re out in nature, clothes can get wet or dirty – especially when kids are involved. Having an extra set of clothes can help ensure that no one is stuck being too hot, cold, wet, or filthy for the duration of the trip.
Another factor to mention when it comes to camping clothing for kids and parents is the fact that everything you buy must be comfortable. Not only will it make camping with toddlers easier, but there will also be no issues to do with uncomfortable clothing and there will be no chance of the tight or restrictive clothing getting in the way of your camping activities.
Hiking and camping are already hard enough without your toddlers having to battle stiff pants or an overlarge ill-fitting vest.
Last, but not least, always make sure to bring shoes or boots which are already worn in and both worn in enough to be comfortable, yet still sturdy enough that you don’t have to worry about rocks, thorns, mud, or water poking or seeping through.
Even if you love laying on your back at twilight and basking beneath the stars, chances are you’ll want some shelter in the event the skies suddenly open up and let loose with a massive downpour. While we tend to focus on rain and wind, the same holds true for warmer camping trips as well. If it’s sweltering hot outside, you and your kids will be grateful for some shady shelter.
What type of camping tent should you get? While there are loads of camping tents available, each with their own strengths and weaknesses – this Kalahari Tent beats most of the competition out the park. It is spacious, stable and accommodates up to 8 people. It has a massive living space and comes with two large windows and hanging storage pockets to help keep it tidy. it also has multiple vents along the roofline helping ensure there is consistent airflow throughout the tent.
When choosing a tent it is important to ensure your tent has enough room for everyone to fit inside comfortably. You also want to take special care to make sure that the material from which the tent has been fashioned is sturdy enough to stand up to wind and rain while still being thick enough to afford shade.
One nice feature to think about getting would be a tent with a screen, like the Icarus Deluxe tent. This is just what it sounds like, a tent that features a special built-in screen that can create two separate rooms. These are perfect for allowing campers some privacy, which can be especially important when camping with toddlers.
First Aid Kit
This is one of the most important things to bring on any camping trip. The great outdoors is an amazing sight but make no mistake, it can also be dangerous. That’s especially true when you have inexperienced campers, as is the case with toddlers going camping for the first time.
Even if your kids have gone camping before, you always want to be sure that you have a quality compact first aid kit on hand to treat everything from the mildest scratch to a serious snake bite or case of nausea.
One of the biggest mistakes campers make when it comes to first aid kids is to not check and see if the first aid supplies they are bringing along are still good before departing. We don’t tend to think of medical supplies as things which can spoil easily, but they can and will do so. You need to know the shelf life of all the medical supplies you are bringing along, roughly how long you’ve had them in your kit, and if any need to be replaced before your next trip.
On a related note, it will be handy to have at least one member of your camping party that knows first aid and can administer treatment if required.
Miscellaneous Personal Accessories
As much as you might imagine yourself the greatest wilderness expert in the world, you don’t want to be caught without your cell phone. While we all love to “get away from it all” sometimes, and going out in nature is a popular way of doing that, you still want to be able to call or be called by others in the event of an accident.
You’ll also want to make sure to bring fuel, a lighter, matches, and whatever else you may need to start a fire. Always make sure to light and completely extinguish campfires with the utmost care.
If you are planning on going fishing, you’ll want to bring along a few extra cheap fishing rods just in case you tangle or snap yours or run into trouble with your fishing equipment. You’ll also want to make sure you have plenty of extra hooks and tackle.
It is always a good idea to bring along a space heater or something similar in the event you cannot get a fire going.
Camping bags and pillows are also a must. Just make sure they are thick and won’t be easily soaked or muddied by the rain or wet ground.
With all the purchases you might need to make, getting a budget head torch will also be a great idea for saving money.
Last, but not least – whatever fuel or personal accessories you take with you as you know they are important enough to bring, then it is also important enough to have a backup just in case the first one fails or gets lost.