Lots of people love camping, whether that is backpacking round Europe or taking the family to a UK child friendly campground. It can be a wonderful activity for anyone, but can also become a huge nightmare if you are not prepared or don’t know what to expect.
If you’ve never been camping before it might be worth staying at a proper campsite where there will be facilities such as toilets, showers, water, electrical connections and convenience stores as well as other people camping just like you. Large campgrounds can also provide activities such as hiring bikes, fishing lakes and swimming pools.
When planning your camping trip you need to make sure you are organised and don’t miss any of the important items out. Here is a checklist to help start you off:
Unless you have a caravan or motorhome a tent is the next best thing for camping. They are a lot cheaper and can still provide you with a comfortable and cosy place to sleep. There are lots of camping shops and online stores that sell tents – from simple 2 man tents to family tents. Think about how much space you want and if you want to just use the tent for sleeping in, this should determine the size of the tent you need.
A necessity when camping, sleeping bags are designed to keep you a lot warmer than your normal duvet. Plan ahead, you need to know how cold it’s going to get where you are camping. Sleeping bags come with different temperature ratings so if you are camping somewhere cold you need to make sure your sleeping bag can keep you warm. Speak to shop staff, they can help advise you what you need.
You may also want to consider an air mattress or mat to sleep on, this can make the ground more even and comfortable.
Torch and extra batteries
You may have a camping light to connect to the mains electric once you’re at your campground but you will still need a torch. Not only can you then take it with you for a midnight dash to the facilities but it will also save turning on the big light and dazzling you and your family during the night.
Making a cup of tea and fried breakfast first thing in the morning is a must do when camping but you need all the cookware to be able to do it. Don’t use your best cookware from your own kitchen but bring older pots and pans or consider a specialist camping set. Think ahead of foods that you will be able to cook with ease, such as bacon, sausages and beans.
There will be certain rules about making fires at campsites so you will need a camping stove to do the cooking. You will also need to consider how you are going to store the food, maybe a small cool box you can plug in to the mains, and also how you are going to dish it up. You can take plastic plates and cutlery, but remember you will need to wash these up!
Established campsites tend to have mains water, but be careful as this may not be drinking water. It would be safe to wash with and boil up to clean your cookware etc. but you will need to ensure you have plenty of drinking water available. If you are going to be active or the weather is hot, you will need to have more drinking water to hand.
All your food wrappings need to go somewhere and you don’t want to be traipsing to the communal bin every time you open a chocolate bar or a pack of bacon. Take some bin bags or supermarket bags to put your daily rubbish in. Don’t forget to put this in the communal bin each time you go out – you don’t want flies!
First Aid Kit
Of course you never expect anything to happen when you are away but you still need to have a first aid kit to hand just in case. Make sure this includes plasters, insect repellent, sunscreen, pain killers, anti-diarrhoea pills, antihistamine tablets, antiseptic cream and bandages at the very least.
Travel insurance and European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)
Always a necessity when you travel. When booking camping travel insurance make sure you have cover for at least emergency medical expenses and repatriation (when travelling abroad), accidents and illnesses can cost extortionate amounts and leave you out of pocket. You can get cover for cancellation, personal possessions and more so check what cover you require before booking.
If you are camping in Europe your EHIC lets you get state healthcare at a reduced cost (or sometimes free). It is free to get hold of and is valid in all European Economic Area countries including Switzerland.
It might be worth writing a list of essential items a couple of weeks before you leave this will give you plenty of time to get anything if you don’t already have it. The more prepared you are the more fun you can have.