Camping is an easy, cheap option for a family holiday and, depending on where you live, can be done close to home. Even if you don’t like “roughing it”, with “glamping” becoming so common, there are several (albeit more expensive) options to take the kids on a nature adventure, even if you prefer not to sleep in a tent. Sarah Riley, Founder of Inspired Camping and mother of two children aged 3 and 6, explains to suitcases&strollers why she loves camping with kids in the great outdoors.
How often do you take your kids camping?
As often as possible. We have a very retro Mercedes Campervan so from spring onwards the van is fully packed and ready to go at a moment’s notice.
What do you love about it?
Rolling down grass banks; swimming in freezing streams; foraging in the hedgerows, on beaches, in fields and through forests for free food; counting shooting stars and satellites; feeling totally free…don’t get me started!
When is the best age to start taking children camping?
You can take children camping at any age, even from a tiny baby. They love exploring everything around them and the fresh air and exercise gives them a great night’s sleep. All you have to do is make sure you're prepared and you choose a campsite with the right facilities for you and your family.
What makes a good family-friendly camping spot?
Good clean facilities, a variety of kids’ play areas and a good place to buy food near to where you are staying.
How can does one find a good camp spot?
[If you are in Europe] I would highly recommend browsing Canopy and Stars.
If you are a family that enjoys creature comforts and have never been camping, will you still enjoy it?
Glamping (a healthy mix of glamour and camping) is the new craze taking the camping industry by storm. It opens the possibilities of camping and holidaying outside to those who do love their creature comforts. With glamping you don't have to go without, and it takes many different forms in some great locations. Atlantic Surf-Pods (North Cornwall, England), Bensfield Treehouse (Sussex, England) and Ecopod (in Argyll, Scotland) are beautiful and offer something a bit different and exciting.
For newbie campers, how can parents make it a fun experience for everyone?
Build a campfire together, cook some marshmallows and tell each other stories while looking at the stars.
Is it worthwhile investing in camping gear?
My recommendation would be to try [camping with kids] first. There's no point investing in the equipment if it's never going to be used again. There are plenty of places where you can hire all the facilities and have them pitched on site ready for you to enjoy with minimum effort.
Where is the most unusual place you've been camping with kids?
In a treehouse. Being up in the tree canopy amongst the birds was very special. It was built and owned by a friend so it’s not open for others to use, however, Bensfield Treehouse in Sussex, England, is just as exciting.
[For another exciting way to sleep in the trees in Germany, see the suitcases&strollers story here.]
Where is your favourite place to take your family camping?
The beach. For us there's nothing like going to sleep with the sea singing you a lullaby.We are based in Devon, England, so we can easily nip across the boarder into Cornwall which has endless beaches to camp near. We particularly like Duckpool Beach. It’s a wild and rocky place with rough Atlantic seas. It even has stories of witches living nearby and magic happening in the lofty cliffs. You aren't allowed to camp there, but in the winter in a campervan no one will bother you if you do, as long as you respect your surroundings and leave no trace when you set off for home.
For other ideas for how to travel on a budget with kids, see the suitcases&strollers story here.