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  • Writer's pictureVicki Manning

Camping with kids - what to pack

Maybe you're long time campers and you now have a little one joining you? Or perhaps you are trying camping as a family for the first time? You may have been overwhelmed by the number of gadgets and gizmos available out there and don't know where to start.

Camping as a family of five, I've found out what's worth having and what isn't - there are a handful of trusted essentials we make sure to pack when we spend our three or four weeks of the year under canvas. Hopefully you'll find these handy when you next go camping together...

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Decent sleeping bag(s)

Camping in the UK can mean nights are cold even at the height of Summer. A quality sleeping bag will help your little one (and you) get a better night's sleep - go for tog and reviews over design.

Inflatable solar lights

Inflatable solar lights pack small and will charge even on a grey day. They are much safer to have in beds as there are no batteries to get lost amongst sleeping bags.

Coffee bags / cappuccino sachets

It might sound like a bit of a luxury, but you will thank me when you have proper tasting coffee to wake you up in the morning. If you have milk in your coffee, opt for latte/cappuccino sachets, if like me you prefer it black, coffee bags are the way to go.

Comfortable chairs for the grown-ups

You don't have to spend a fortune on them but steer clear of the really cheap folding chairs and look for something that offers back and leg support. The cheaper chairs are perfectly fine for little ones but you will need something comfy as camping with kids is tiring!

Baby boy sitting in camping chair
My middle son loving life in mummy's large camping chair - he even spent a few naps here!

Travel games

Choose a handful of age-appropriate games to pack in case of rain or for evening entertainment. We keep ours in a small tub and our current favourites are Uno, Pass the Pigs, Dobble and travel Guess Who.

Your own pillows

Inflatable pillows may seem like a great idea but they are rarely very comfortable and the cooler air at night can make them deflate. If you are short of space in the car they can sit on laps for the journey.

Plastic-free wipes

Wipes are a total essential when camping with kids - perfect for spills, grubby hands and sticky faces. Look for plastic-free versions which are now available from many supermarket and high street brands.


We love our Potette, its invaluable for urgent wees in the night. If you'd prefer not to use plastic bags and have the room to pack, a small portable toilet with green chem and bio loo roll is a great alternative.

Instant breakfasts eg brioche rolls, pain au chocolat, waffles

While cereal may be your go-to brekky at home, cleaning up spilt milk or washing bowls may not be at the top of your list when camping. Having a selection of 'instant' hands-free breakfasts makes life so much easier in the mornings.


A camping trip wouldn't be complete without toasted marshmallows - you can either take some retractable toasting tongs or do like we do and forage for straight green sticks - just wash them before using.

Hanging toiletry holder

We have a toiletry holder hanging by the front door of the tent to store keys, wallets, phones - anything we need to keep safe from little hands but easy for grown-ups to access.

New picture books

These don't have to be brand new, you can pay a trip to the local charity shop - if the kids are getting are getting a bit hyper at bedtime a couple of new books can distract and help them settle.

Real mugs

You will thank me when you are having a warming brew in a proper mug. There is nothing more dissatisfying than a cuppa in plastic!


A tablet is handy to have should you fancy a family film before bedtime, just make sure it's fully charged before leaving. It's a good idea to download the film at home first, in case the signal on the site is poor.

Activity books

My camping activity bundle has a fun range of camping-themed worksheets, colouring pages, recipes and activities for you to do together on your next trip. We also like to take a sticker book for the younger ones and crossword book for the grownups.

Crocs and wellies

Crocs are perfect for showers or popping in and out of the tent, and you will need wellies for rainy days.

Cool box and ice blocks

We like to keep grated cheese, sausages and cooked chicken in ours for easy meals. Most campsites will have a freezer so you can re-freeze your ice blocks when they thaw.

Fluorescent drawing board

These are such fun for after dark. Use the light pens to draw glow-in-the-dark pictures on the drawing board, let them fade away then draw again.

Want more tips for camping with kids? Check out my ultimate guide here.


For more playful and creative learning ideas visit:



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