When I first started posting about camping here on the blog, a couple of friends commented to me that they’d love to try camping – but couldn’t because of their small children. An opinion I was familiar with, as I’d once thought the same thing.
We took our boys camping for the first time when Freddie was just 2 years old. And we were worried that it was going to be a pain for us (though we tried anyway – we’re silly like that!). In reality, camping was exactly the kind of holiday that’s perfect for small children!
Before we started camping with our own children, I’d been going on trips with my own parents for many years. In fact, I think my first camping trip was when I was barely a toddler myself. Look – I have photographic proof!
So what makes camping such a great choice for families with young children? Well, here are a few reasons…
You don’t have to travel far!
All parents will know the perils of going on long journeys with little ones. Whether it’s the multiple stops for feeds and nappy changes, the car sickness mishaps or just the boredom. Yes, we all know that children aren’t much fun on long car journeys. Which is the big advantage of camping – you can do it almost anywhere!
Our first trip with the kids was when Freddie had just turned 2, and we decided not to travel too far. The Gower Peninsula in Wales turned out to be the ideal spot – only a few hours in the car, thankfully. But you don’t even have to go that far – the nearest place we regularly camp is just 45 minutes away from our home!
You don’t have to worry about mess/damage
Going away with small children presents a number of particular risks, with one big one being the mess/damage your child may cause. Whether you’re staying at somebody’s house or a hotel, the prospect of having to clear-up vomit, spilled food or worse can put a lot of parents off even bothering.
Well when you’re staying in a tent, that’s barely an issue. For starters, almost every part of a tent is wipe-clean. Better still, you’ll spend the majority of your time outdoors, where the mess doesn’t matter as much. You won’t have lots of breakables around you, and anything that does get ruined will be pretty cheap to replace!
Camping has loads to keep them occupied
When you’re holidaying in the great outdoors, it’s inevitable that you’ll spend a lot more time being active. So long as you pack a few outdoor-friendly activities – like a ball, maybe a kite – the kids will be occupied for hours on end. And all that activity will wear them out by bedtime, too!
There are loads of people around to help
Whether you’ve chosen a family-friendly campsite specifically, or you’ve gone camping with a group of friends, there’s always other people around to help. Which means plenty of extra pairs of hands – even if only to keep an eye on a wandering toddler.
Campsites are by-and-large a very safe environment for kids – they’re usually open and visible, and are usually designed with families in mind. Short of a few slow-moving cars or the risk of your toddler wandering into the wrong tent, you won’t find too many dangers to small children on a campsite.
Camping is a great way for kids to make friends
The nature of camping trips means you’re probably going to be surrounded my other families. Unless you’re roughing it in a secluded spot off the beaten track, you’re probably camping with others. Personally speaking, we usually go camping with groups of friends or families. But even when you don’t go away with others, the chances of your kids making friends while you’re out and about is quite high.
Back in the 80s when I was a young’un, we used to go camping with a big group of my parents’ university friends – a trend we’ve repeated ourselves. Some of the children I went on those early camping trips with are still friends of mine now – in fact, the two little’uns you can see with me in the photo below will be coming camping with us this summer, almost 40 years later.
The children can really get involved
If your kids are anything like mine, they like to get involved in every aspect of the holiday – kids are naturally curious, after all. The great thing about a camping trips is the number of opportunities there are for them TO get involved! Even the littlest ones. From helping to set-up the tent to preparing meals, there are dozens of ways they can get their hands dirty – literally, and figuratively.
Our boys always like to set up their own beds, and even get involved in stuff they wouldn’t be caught dead doing at home. Volunteering to help with the washing up, anyone?! Yep – it actually happened, albeit not as often as I’d like!
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You don’t have to spend much to do it
Unlike a package holiday or an expensive trip abroad, camping can be a very cost-effective solution for travel. You can do it as near or far away as you want, and once you’ve got the basic equipment you don’t have to spend much at all.
The cost-effectiveness makes it even more appealing as the parent of a young child. Not just because having a new child probably means you’re watching what you spend, either. Apart from the cost of a campsite, the trip itself will involve very little financial outlay. Which means that if the trip doesn’t go as planned, or you find your child doesn’t take to the outdoor life, you can just pack up and go home. Bar the cost of a night or two on the campsite, you won’t have lost any money by changing your plans!
So those are just a few of the reasons that I think camping could be the ideal holiday for those with little’uns – though I’m sure there are more!