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  1. Family Camping Top Tips

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    Family Camping Top Tips From Sub Zero

    Going on a family camping trip is a big adventure for everyone involved. The secret to its success will be down to your preparation, so if you need some help, just follow our top tips for a great family camping holiday.

    Put Up Your Tent

    If it is your first family camping trip of the season or you have just bought a new tent, ensure you put it up first in your garden just to check it over and ensure you know what you are doing. The kids will love you for it and it’s a great build-up to the actual trip.

    Inspect Your Gear

    How many of you have lit their stove for the gas to run out after a few minutes? I suspect more than will admit it. Even if you just check the essentials it is better than having to beg and borrow when on your pitch:

    Batteries for torches and lamps

    Camping gas for stoves

    Lighters/matches

    Anything inflatable

    Water carrier

    Pack The Car Beforehand

    Be under no illusion, you will pack more kit than you can actually fit in to your car. To avoid family arguments prior to setting off, pre-pack your gear so you know exactly what can be feasibly carried. If more space is needed then think about using a roof box or get friends and family to take stuff for you.

    Plan Your Journey

    You would be amazed at how many people rock up to sites after they have closed or in the dark after they have miscalculated the length of time the journey will take. All it takes is a quick check on a route planner (such as online with the AA) to show you the best routes and travel times. If you are going to run the route off a smartphone app then ensure you are able to charge it during the journey as they can be power hungry. The last thing you want is to travel most of the way for your phone to die.

    Entertain The Troops

    Most parents probably dread the journey to the campsite, especially if it is more then an hours travel time. Keeping the kids entertained in the back of the car should be one of your top priorities as it sets the tone for the rest of the holiday – as well as removing unnecessary distractions from the driver. However, this doesn’t mean you have to comatose them in front of a screen. There are loads of car games you can play without any equipment that will keep the little darlings happy for ages.

    Carrying Meals

    It is very tempting to save room in the car by taking minimal provisions. Most campsites now have a small shop and you are very rarely a short car journey away from a supermarket. But this carries a number of risks. What if you are delayed and arrive after the shops are closed? or setting up your pitch takes longer than expected and the kids are hungry? Our advice would to be take at least a full days meals with you as a backstop.

    Take Some Bricks

    Space is at a premium and you want me to take some building materials? Really? Well, the fact is that a lot of campsites do not let you place disposable BBQ’s on the floor due to their potential fire hazard and subsequent scorch marks on the grass. Propping them up on bricks helps to get over this problem. Alternatively, invest in a collapsible metal table or a fire pit/BBQ on legs.

    Nights Can Be Cold

    Even in the middle of summer, nights can be cold, which is understandable considering your tent is basically a thin sheet of fabric with very little insulation. Instead of taking normal pyjamas, think about substituting them for base layers. They are often lighter but help to regulate your body temperature much more efficiently.

    Family Camping Backup Plans

    Anticipate the unexpected should be your mantra. It could be glorious hot weather one minute, driving rain the next. Spend a little time beforehand researching alternative activities for all eventualities. Even if you run out of time to do this, you can always start your holiday by popping to the local tourist information centre to collect some local ideas.

    Relax

    Camping with the family is a great way to relax for all concerned. Let your kids go ‘feral’ for a few days and they will be as happy as pigs in muck. This doesn’t mean abandoning parental responsibility, just allow the ordinary boundaries of daily home life to be more flexible.

  2. Making The Most Of Simple Campsites

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    Camping completely independent of any facilities, being truly self-contained, has always appealed but it needs careful organisation and easing of standards and expectations – it’s a tough person who rolls naked across a field for a grass bath. A simple campsite is one that offers the basics of loo and water and has that difficult to define element – ‘character’. It may come from the setting, the wider context or the personality of the owners. Some attract campers who enjoy privacy; others have an air of camaraderie from the moment you start to pitch your tent. Shops, pizza stalls, swimming pools, closely packed pitches and licensed bars add a layer of complexity to sites that shift them from camping holidays to holiday camps.

    However, where simple farm sites once cost just a couple of pounds, ‘modern’ simple sites can rack up charges that reflect location, unmarked pitches and character. The emergence of web-based campsite guides – www.ukcampsite.co.uk; the Cool Camping series – www.coolcamping.co.uk ; and Tiny Campsites – www.tinycampsites.co.uk –  have all not only spread the word about exceptional sites but actively helped to develop a new theme in sites. More privacy, open fires and an awareness of sustainability are linked to pubs in walking distance to make up a rounded package that delivers a more ‘authentic’ camping experience.

    The downside of many smaller, simpler sites is not being able to book them in advance. Over the years, word of mouth and pot luck have been as useful as printed and electronic guides. No pre-booking means risking turning up to be turned away. Or, perhaps, finding that secluded site you enjoyed last year bursting at the seams. It pays to have alternatives up your sleeve and to be flexible in what you expect. You can book National Trust campsites online; many are run by tenant farmers – www.nationaltrust.org.uk.

    Campingninja is a free, independent campsite booking site that allows you to browse with search filters for campsites, find availability and book on-line all in the same place – no more phone calls or the frustration of unanswered emails. With hundreds of campsites in the system, Campingninja co-founder Rhian Evans said, “We have a great variety of campsites to book including eco-campsites, small campsites, campsites where you can have a campfire, campsites for all kinds of activities – the list is endless and you can easily search on all of these criteria and more.”

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