Our first camping trip with Daddy was to the New Forest. We boarded the train with two fully loaded backpacks, which we could barely carry. In terms of ‘gear’ we only had a tiny tent, warm sleeping bags, mats to sleep on and a small camping stove. Not much else. We relied on finding a tree stump or similar to sit on and done without a table. Over the years we have added some items to our camping gear, but we are still pretty low key.
Only once have we allowed ourselves the luxury of glamping. It was our last trip before Little F was born. I was 8 months pregnant and I don’t think I would’ve managed to get in and out of our tiny tent, not to mention sleeping on hard ground!
Little F is now 21 months and we’ve decide that it’s a perfect time to start his camping adventure. While we waited for a suitably large tent to come up on eBay we decided to go easy on ourselves and take Little F glamping instead. Just to see how he feels about sleeping in a tent. We’ve booked ourselves into Welsummer campsite, a place we have visited a few years ago with our little tent, and always wanted to come back in spring to see the sea of bluebells again. Part of this small, family-run campsite is in a coppiced wood, which is carpeted with bluebells in April and May.
WHAT IS GLAMPING?
In case you are not sure what glamping is. Simply put, it’s glamorous camping. Instead of bringing a tent with you, you sleep in a large pre-erected tent, tipi, yurt or possibly a waggon. You still have the pleasure of being essentially outdoors and roasting things on campfire, but you don’t have the hassle of setting up camp and some mod cons like heating are likely to be included. If you are not sure camping is for you, glamping is a good way to give it a go.
Glamping is a convenient, albeit not so cheap compared to camping, way to get away for a weekend. It doesn’t require as much preparation and packing as camping, as a lot of the items like cooking utensils, pots and cups are provided. You also sleep in more comfort with comfy beds provided. If you are feeling particularly luxuriant, some campsites also offer breakfast delivered to your ‘door’.
When taking young kids and babies camping you need to be reasonably certain that they will sleep through the night. It’s not faire to wake the whole campsite when your little one needs his night feed. This is a big reason why we waited that long to take Little F glamping. Last summer we could not rely on him to sleep through.
WHAT TO ASK WHEN BOOKING
Like with any holiday with children you need to come prepared. Here’s a few things you need to think of and ask before you choose your glamping spot:
Is a travel cot provided?
How close is the campsite to the road? Is there a proper fence and gate?
What are the facilities like? Especially important if you are staying more than one night. Your toddler won’t be happy with a cold shower!
What is the policy on larger parties? A lot of campsites don’t accept them, as of course they tend to mean a lot of noise and if no one has walls that is an issue…
Exactly what is provided? Good to know in case you want to bring a few extra bits, or you need your own cooler.
WHAT TO TAKE
Now that you have selected your perfect glamping location it’s time to start packing.
Regardless of the season you’ll need lots of layers. It may be nice and warm in the sun, but as soon as wind blows or you are in shade it’s not so toasty any more. And of course the temperature drops in the evenings.
Waterproofs and wellies/waterproof boots for the entire family. This is England baby!
Flask for hot water. You won’t have to boil the water every time you want some hot tea. It’s also great to take for walks filled with hot tea.
Camping stove. I know it’s a very romantic image to cook over the campfire and it is in fact an interesting experience, but you’ll probably want your cup of tea in the morning quicker than you can put a fire together.
Sun screen – and fingers crossed for sunshine!
A pashmina scarf is very versatile. It can keep you warm and add a little style to your camping outfit, but we also found it handy to keep Little F’s head in a comfortable position while he slept in the carrier on Daddy’s back, or block the wind/sun while he slept in the buggy.
Your toddler won’t be able/willing to do as much walking as you may want to, so either a carrier or an off road buggy is essential. If you opt for a buggy though you won’t be able to go on footpaths, as they are dotted with stiles. There are a few places with buggy friendly walks like the New Forest or the Forest of Dean.
An OS map of the area – it’s not a good idea to get lost
A line and some pegs may come in handy if you have some wet stuff to hang
Source of light (torch or a lamp) – this may well be provided so check when you are booking
Cooler – not necessarily to keep your beers cold, it’s for milk (and bacon if you eat meat). We actually never had one and we got away without it on this trip, as it was 3 degrees at night – so it was like sleeping in the fridge, alongside the milk.
Easy and quick to cook food. Some campsites have a shop and sell their own eggs and other bits and pieces, but you’ll want to bring some food with you. It’s a good idea to cook a one pot meal at home and reheat it the first evening – saves time and fuel.
Sleeping bag for your toddler, as they are likely to wriggle out of normal bedding.
Any favourite toys or blanket – as you would for a normal holiday
Calpol and thermometer. You never know. Little F very rarely gets ill, so I stopped taking medical paraphernalia. Of course he got ill during the drip we didn’t take the thermometer.
WHAT NOT TO FORGET (we did!)
Here’s a few things I wish we had taken with us. We haven’t camped in two seasons, so it’s easy to forget about some basics.
Cling film or baking parchment to wrap sandwiches. You are likely to be doing lots of walking, so unless you plan to have all your meals in pubs, sandwiches will be your staple food.
A little oil to fry your free range eggs for breakfast. Sunny side up is the quickest way to cook your eggs, which is important to consider with limited gas supply (and hungry tummies). It took us an hour to prepare breakfast of poached eggs! The wind wasn’t on our side an its cold blasts cooled the pot and blew the flames to the side, which meant water took a long long time to boil.
As you can see there are a few more things to consider compared to staying in a hotel, but the experience is much more special. And it is wonderful to see your child spend all of his day outdoors playing with sticks, stones and mud (an overall waterproof will make cleaning him/her up much easier!). Who knows, maybe you’ll fall in love with glamping and next you’ll want to try camping.