How often do you get out and about and explore the beautiful country that you call home? When we lived in the UK we were pretty good at exploring London town where we lived, but we rarely travelled further afield. Now that we live in France we’re determined to travel more in the local area, so last year we started the ‘Alphabet Adventures’ as a way of encouraging us out and about. We recently went on our first family camping trip near Bordeaux that was a big success. The kids had a huge amount of fun as we spent some much needed time together as a family. We learnt a lot from our first trip and here are some of our top tips for camping with kids!
Choose a campsite that suits you as a family
There are so many different types of campsites to choose from. There are those that have everything that you could possible need, to others that are simply a field in the middle of nowhere. We chose a site that was super kid friendly with a kids club, pool, playground and outdoor activities. The shower blocks had kids toilets, it had easy access to the beach, and it was nice to know that with other kids around we didn’t have to be so conscious about noise levels when our kids are playing.
Leave in good time to arrive at the campsite
We had planned to leave just after lunch but by the time we were ready to go it was about 3pm. This meant we didn’t get to the campsite until about 7pm (after toilet breaks and not really knowing where we were going!) which admittedly was a little late. Luckily with longer lighter evenings there was enough light, and I had dinner all ready pre-prepared which the kids ate while we set up our tent. Next time however we’ll be leaving much earlier!
Camp ‘out of season’
Why? It’s cheaper and not so busy. In April we paid 20€ per night to camp out of season compared to the 47€ you pay in the middle of August. There were more pitches empty so we managed to get a spot that overlooked the beach and we were surrounded by only a few campervans. It was the perfect time of year to go to ease us into family camping!
Plan your meals
We had no intention of eating out everyday as we wanted to keep costs low, so I meal planned the week before. We had cereal, eggs or leftover dinner for breakfast, made sandwiches for lunches and planned simple dinners such as pasta and noodle dishes, soup, wraps and omelet. There was a small, though very expensive, shop on site where we could stock up on fresh vegetables and milk, but we weren’t far from a local supermarket for anything else we needed.
Prepare for all types of weather
This we were surprisingly unprepared for! The first day we had glorious sunshine and were down on the beach but we didn’t all have swimwear. The rest of the time we were there we had rain on and off but lacked raincoats. I had otherwise packed suitable clothing and we kept warm at night with the duvets we had brought, as April nights are not the warmest. At least we now have everything for next time!
Check out the local area
On the days when it did rain the beach was not an option, so we found other things in the local area such as bowling and a kids adventure park. Although there was lots to do at the campsite it was nice to get out and explore a bit. If we had stayed a bit longer it would have been nice to venture into Bordeaux but there’s always a next time!
I made a point of not having internet connection while we were away so there was no checking emails, no Facebooking or Instagramming. We took a ‘proper’ camera so I didn’t have to carry my phone around at all. For me it was important to connect with the kids and our new surroundings and create memories that the boys could remember and enjoy. We let go of our normal routines and let the kids stay up to watch the sunset and roll about in the sand. We told stories under the stars and generally let the kids be our guides for the time we were away.
As parents we feel it’s important to travel where we can and show our boys a little of the big wide world. Camping is a great experience for kids and families, and with a little bit of research and planning, whether the trip is to another country or just your backyard, you can make memories that your kids will remember forever!
Have you been camping as a family? Do feel free to share any tips you have!