Friday 14th May 2021
Want to camp with the kids, but worried it’ll be a disaster?
Bundle Bed Founder, Lucy Bartlett, answers the top five questions of wannabe family campers.
Does the idea of ‘family camping’ conjure up images of kids delirious with lack of sleep; smelly toilets; rainy evenings eating watery noodles?
It doesn’t have to be an exercise in endurance! One reason I created Bundle Beds was to make travelling and camping – especially with children – easier and less daunting. Choosing to camp as a family can be a time to slow down together; a chance to drop the agendas and the to-do lists.
Here are the worries I get asked about most – and how we make family camping an enjoyable holiday for everyone.
- Do kids ever sleep in a tent?
My two little lads tend to sleep better – early risers at home they have been known to sleep past 8am on a camping trip!
Whilst camping is often about exploring new places, creating a familiar sleep space keeps kids feeling safe and secure at night. Bring a favourite pillow case or blanket from home (our boys have their own Bundle Beds with bumpers) and consider a practice camp-out in the living room with any new gear. Using a Bluetooth speaker to play audiobooks (we love Winnie the Pooh and The Tractor Who Wants to Fall Asleep) whilst they drift off distracts from the general campsite noise – and a blackout inner tent for ‘bedrooms’ is a non-negotiable to avoid being up before the lark.
- Isn’t it cold at night?
Keeping cosy under canvas is a number one priority, especially to ensure everyone has a great night’s sleep.
Even on the sunniest days, evenings can be chilly. As kids go from having fun to teeth chattering-ly chilled very fast, pre-empt the cold. Pop on their coat, or put them in a onesie, as soon as the sun begins to dip. For bed, we dress our boys in long sleeved PJs, with a onesie and a pair of socks over the top. If we can convince them to keep it on, we’ll also add a beanie hat.
As well as adding layers on the top of your kids sleep set-up, don’t forget to insulate from the ground and add blankets underneath – a picnic blanket with a waterproof layer is brilliant. I’d recommend ditching the double height airbeds which let the cold in from under you and opt instead for a self-inflating mattress.
- Can you cook food over a fire that a fussy toddler will eat?
By keeping it simple, and with a little prep, you can all eat well.
Sitting and eating around an open fire is wonderful, but always have a second way to cook. An inexpensive camping stove a life saver when it’s wet, or you need a cuppa quick!
I love to pre-prepare meals at home. Make up a family favourite the night before you leave for easy heating up on arrival day. Freeze another meal that everyone likes, perhaps a curry or some soup, to pop in the cool box. It will help keep everything cold whilst defrosting for your second night.
Camping allows a little more time to be spent over everyday things so make cooking an event. After all, anything cooked and eaten outside is more fun – which means the kids enjoy getting involved (and may eat a little more!). Ask them to wrap potatoes or apples in foil for you to bake under hot embers. Top with lots of butter – plus cinnamon and raisins for the apples. Bring along pre-made puff pastry, slather it in chocolate spread and wrap around sticks for the kids to make themselves a pastry breakfast. And, of course, toasting marshmallows is a must!
- What if it rains?
Whilst you can’t control the weather, you can be prepared with waterproofs and wellies (even with the sunniest of forecasts.)
If it looks like a day of deluge, maximise your space by rolling up bedding in the tent to make room for games, colouring, and playdoh. Our boys have been known to use their Bundle Beds as a soft play – thankfully the bedding is zipped into a protective outer layer so we avoid little muddy footprints!
Don’t forget the car too. Set the kids up with hot chocolates and their tablets for their very own in-car cinema.
I also like to have a few indoor activities and places to visit in my back-pocket. On a grey blustery day there’s nothing wrong with an afternoon at a local tourist attraction – or the nearest family pub!
- There’s so much kit to bring! Where do I start?
You really don’t need it all! Take a look at my camping gear essentials or borrow from friends and family to test out what you like. Make sure to repurpose items from home that you’ve been clearing out – an old towel makes a fantastic tent doormat and jam jars are perfect for storing camping food ingredients.
For your first adventure, make it easy and book for a couple of nights at a campsite nearby.
(And I promise the toilets are really not that bad!)