Written by Tracey Blake
My friend Laurie Giles is the Ray Mears of camping – he and his wife Tanya always make it look effortless and easy (where as for me the whole thing is a trial!!) so I asked Lozza to share his tips here….
1. The kids don’t need their iPads. Camp sites don’t often have wifi and even if they did, the kids don’t need to know that so good reason to leave all their gadgets at home.
2. Look at the forecast and plan ahead. If it’s likely to rain have a few different options for activities. You don’t want to stay cooped up in your tent all day so get out and visit a local attraction or even a short walk and a long lunch in a pub.
3. If you haven’t got a tent big enough to cook in get a groundsheet or tarp you can sling up between trees to give you some shelter if it unexpectedly tips it down.
4. You don’t need a big kitchen system. Evenings on a campsite are for BBQs – there’s so many things to cook over charcoal you’ll never be bored. A small gas cooker is ideal for tea/coffee in the morning and bacon rolls to get the days off to a good start. Do packed lunches for the kids or head to a local pub or find fish and chips at the beach.
5. If you get the chance, choose your camping spot and work out where east and west is. Morning sun will warm you up as you sit round for breakfast. Evening sun will relax you as you sit there with a beer or GnT.
6. Keep your tent clean inside. Shoes off at the door, especially if it’s wet outside. Take a dust pan and brush as you’ll still get dirt inside (yes, really!).
7. Head torches are great and kids love them because it feels like an adventure so give them their own one so if they wake up in the night they are easy to find and put on whilst they hunt the zip on the tent to get out for the loo.
8. A decent cool box will be sufficient – you don’t need an electric or gas fridge. You can often buy a bag of ice at the camp shop or most supermarkets. As long as it doesn’t all go in drinks, it will keep your cool box cold enough for a few days.
9. What are you sleeping on? Airbeds are good but can take ages to blow up; a camping mat is good enough to insulate you from the cold ground, but might not be comfortable enough; you can get camp beds but these are bulky and take up a lot of space in the boot; my favourite option are self inflating mats – comfortable and compact.
10. Some campsites will let you have open fires off the ground. See if they rent firepits, take your own, or take a small cheap BBQ on legs. If you’ve got space in the car take some wood as there might not be wood lying around (if there is, send the kids off to collect it, they will love this). But it’s a great way to spend the evening round the fire with a glass of wine, toasting marshmallows with the kids.
11. Simple games for the kids they can play on the campsite. Football, cricket, badminton, frisbee etc will encourage them to get out and play with other kids on the site.
12. Take towels so you can shower at the campsite – your kids might enjoy not washing for a few days but you probably won’t. Relax, have fun and go with the flow!
1. Corkscrew/bottle opener
2. BBQ tools, skewers and matches/lighter
3. Head torches
4. String or cord. Useful for washing lines or spare rope for the tent
5. Antiseptic wipes
6. Washing up gear – take two bowls (one for washing up in as the sinks on campsites often don’t have a plug, one for the clean things), tea towels, washing up liquid and sponges.