How to go camping with kids as a single parent

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Single parent camping

Unless you’re a seasoned camper, taking the kids on their first camping trip can be a little daunting, especially if you’re the only adult. It doesn’t have to be that way though. We asked the experts at Cool Camping for their tips on camping with kids.

Single parent camping

Fresh air and freedom to roam make camping the choice way to holiday in 2021 – and, what’s more, your kids will love it. Sleeping in a tent, exploring the great outdoors and toasting marshmallows on campfires are all one big adventure that promises happy days and memories that’ll last a lifetime.

If camping as a single parent feels a little scary then fear not! Follow our top tips to help your camping trip go smoothly.

Choose a family-friendly campsite

A family-friendly site does not necessarily mean one with bells and whistles. The swimming pools of holiday parks are tempting and can fill a couple of hours a day, but what about a car-free camping meadow? Choose a site with no cars in the field and your kids can run about with barefooted abandon for the duration of your stay. A rope swing, a pond or a sandpit can be as entertaining as a kids’ club and sometimes it’s little things that make a site a great place for families. Read reviews to see how other families have enjoyed a site before you pick yours. 

Check out Cool Camping’s hand-picked selection of family-friendly campsites to find the perfect pitch for your family.

Camp with friends

If you have like-minded friends (with like-minded kids) why not book a pair of neighbouring pitches and holiday together? Your kids will have ready-made playmates and many hands can make light work of pitching tents and cooking campfire dinners. Not to mention the fact that once the kids are tucked up in bed, you can enjoy a bit of grown-up time by the campfire. If your pals aren’t in the mood for a camping trip but the sociable side of camping appeals, choose a smaller site with fewer pitches and look out for places with communal fire pits and shared areas that can make getting to know your camping neighbours easier. You can also check out the Frolo app for single parent camping trips that you can join.

Take a tent that’s big enough for your family

There’s a difference between a three-man tent and a family tent for three. The family tent will likely have space to stand up and room for a good game of Yahtzee. The three-manner will probably be just about big enough to lie down in. In good weather, the extra space of a family tent is handy but it’ll come into its own if the weather is less than favourable on your trip. Let’s face it, that’s a serious consideration when you’re camping in the UK, but rainy days in roomy tents can be as much fun as days out – if you remember to bring something to do!

Pack well and sleep well

Less is often more when it comes to camping: less to pack, less to unpack and less to tidy up at the end of your stay. A board game or book in case of bad weather on top of your camping kit should suffice, but there is one time when more is more; and that time is bedtime. Don’t underestimate how cold it can get when sleeping under canvas. A good night’s sleep can be key to a good holiday with kids, so take an extra blanket or invest in a Bundle Bed for extra cosiness.

Make a game of pitching the tent

When you arrive on site, channel your inner Scout leader and get your kids involved in setting up camp. Pitching the tent doesn’t have to be a hassle and by making it into a game you should find they’ll be happy to help. You could even get the stopwatch out and time your set up and try to score a personal best on each camping trip. Blowing up the air bed, unfurling the sleeping bag and leaving the torch in an easy-to-grab location are as important a part of setting up as pegging down your canvas. You can thank us at bedtime when your neighbours are making beds by moonlight.

Make an easy first-night dinner

On your arrival day, it’s best to have something super-easy to cook on the campfire, especially if you’re arriving close to tea time. After the journey, the pitching of tents and all that fresh air, your kids will be hungry before you know it so something that just needs warming through is ideal. Pre-cooked jacket spuds that you’ve wrapped in foil and chilli that just needs warming up are good ideas that won’t take long. Or, if you have a reliable camping stove, try pasta and a pre-made sauce. And of course, don’t forget the marshmallows!

single parent camping tips

Win a copy of Cool Camping Kids!

If all of this has got you in the mood for camping with your kids, then why not enter to win one of THREE copies of our Cool Camping Kids book – a fantastic guide to the coolest places to camp with children.

Cool Camping Kids