In the last week of August I had a couple of days I was planning to take the kids camping on my own (Dadonthebrink had to work). It was beautiful weather and we had some passes for the New Forest hop on hop off bus that we’d won in a competition.
Alas, I chickened out! I just couldn’t imagine setting up or packing away the tent on my own, while the kids run around without me having half an eye on them; I had no idea how I could take a child to the toilet at night and leave the other 2 behind. I chose the easy route and stayed home, missing out on an adventure.
I still regret it and scold myself, but I’m not sure I’d do it differently even today.
To be honest, after last year’s tests I am still utterly confused as to
What style of camping would suit our family?
Is it in a tent? A caravan? Or maybe a campervan?
(A motorhome is not even a contender purely from a budget and practicality point of view- parking it, finding one that has 5 belted seats and the list goes on.)
We had so much fun last year on all our trips under canvas. We found benefits to each type of tent we tested– the big family tent gave us space and a real home from home, the family touring tent was an all rounder and the pop up tents gave us warm dry place to sleep and minimised set up and packing up times.
We’ve lived for a couple of months in a caravan while refurbishing our current house, so we know a bit about the ins and outs of caravanning. Although I love the idea of having home comforts and not much setting up and taking down; I’m not very confident in towing a large caravan I also don’t much like the MPG and snail pace of the car when towing.
One option is that we could spruce up our van, add a kitchenette, some storage and reconfigure it with some sleeping arrangements for the kids to make a makeshift campervan. We would still need a tent or a drive-away awning, as there’s no way we could accommodate all 5 of us sleeping in the van without major investment. Would this really suit us?
I guess in trying to decide what our camping style really is we need to look at a number of factors
Who we are?
We are a family of 5 with 3 young children. As a WAHM I want to be able to take the children away on my own when Dadonthebrink has to work.
What sort of camping would we like to do?
We prefer to stay on campsites with facilities, however I’m not really the glamping person. We don’t mind roughing it a little, reflecting back on our wild adventures of pitching in the most extreme places. With the children I’ve realise I do need a toilet of some sort within easy access in the middle of the night come rain or moonshine. (And maybe this could be our own portapotti in our tent or camper?)
What length of time are we looking to go camping for? And what seasons?
This year we have short breaks and longer breaks planned: I’m hoping for us to get away for at least one weekend a month from late March through to October. These will be Saturday afternoon till Sunday evenings due to commitments on Saturday mornings. It will allow us to explore that bit further afield.
We are planning to spend 4 weeks camping over the year: a week over the Easter holidays in the UK, for the June school holiday we are camping in France with friends and over the summer holidays we are planning to go camping in Bayern and the Salzburg region of Austria before spending a week camping by the Lake Balaton in Hungary. If we can squeeze it in, we’d love to go to the west coast of Scotland for a week at the end of the kids’ summer holidays.
As the plans come together, I realise that even on our longer breaks I like agendas that take us to a new site every 2-3 days. This is a reflection of our past experience from when we travelled as a couple. I will be curious to see how this works with children in tow.
As a single income family we are on a tight budget, both for getting our equipment and for our trips as well. Herein lies one of the most exciting challenges. 🙂
Taking all into consideration we probably need some sort of a touring set up: Modest sized accommodation, maybe with flexibility to expand if we are staying longer in one location or if weather is really bad. We need to be able to set up and pack up quickly, while having some home comforts of warmth while sleeping, cooking facilities and an easily accessible loo. I need to be able to do it on my own with the children.
I’ve been looking at different options and gathering ideas on my Pinterest board- What is your camping style?
I’d love to hear your experiences-