Toddlers and tents … Is camping with a toddler a genius idea? Or a ghastly one?
ince my son was born, I’ve been firmly on the “We can do this!” side of the fence when it comes to travel. We’ve do done long-haul flights and short-haul flights; r road trips and train journeys; homey house s sits and five-star hotels. But I confess, every time I’ve considered a camping trip with my toddler, a little voice kept saying in my head: ““Is this really a good idea?” Admittedly, camping involves a raft of log logistics. There’s stuff to sleep on, stuff to sit on a and stuff to eat off. You need methods to keep food cool while the humans stay warm: no wond wonder my mind boggled every time I thought aboutbo it. But I kept coming back to the idea because there’s so much that’s great about camping: it’s natural, it’s entertaining, it’s social and, frankly, it’s cheap. What’s not to love? So: I buck up. We embrace it, it rains, and we have an absolute ball. I - by no means - nail it first go, but I DO learn what to do next time. And yes, there’ll be a next time: sooner rather than later: I’ve decided that camping with a toddler is superb fun, once you get the basics right.
Sue’s 7 tips for a successful camping trip with a toddler Tip 1: Take other kids (the more the merrier!)
Mid way through day one of our first camping trip, I quickly realise the secret sauce for camping with a toddler: kids entertain other kids. Take a bunch with you and the pressure on the adults to be ‘cruise director for one’ is vastly diminished. If you’re camping in a holiday park versus a more rustic national park campground, the volumes of children multiply and, in my experience, the trip gets even easier.
Tip 2: Don’t forget the kids’ parents!
Not only is camping with other families more pleasant for the adults (there’s plenty of downtime, even with an inquisitive toddler around), but for new campers, friends hedge against the very real likelihood that, as a new camper, odds are you will forget stuff. I forget the folding chairs (despite having two in my shed) and, of course, it rains, so sitting on damp ground is far from appealing. Happily, my experienced camping buddies have spares. I forget tongs, and oil – both essentials for a good bbq (I’m so focused on plates and cups I bring an oversupply of each instead). Again, friends to the rescue.
Sussing out their setup over the weekend, I remember the trick from my own childhood: big plastic tubs with lids, purpose-packed with camping utensils, salt, pepper, the works. I make a note to create one before my next trip – not only will it save packing time but it will mean less chance of forgetting the tomato sauce, salt, silver foil or chopping board (yes, I forgot all of the above!).
Tip 3. A travel cot inside a tent isn’t a silly idea.
While I’ve heard of one friend sleeping their toddler in a one-person tent just next to his, I wanted my son at arm’s reach. But what to sleep him in? At home, he’s still in a cot, so I take my Phil and Ted’s cot and set that up inside our tent. It’s a good choice for the job, as it has a zip up top to guard against mosquitos, as well as a prized side zip (this gets opened in the middle of the night so my son can snuggle up if need be, but avoids him rolling around the tent when it’s adult-free).