Since having children, camping has become a whole different beast. When it was just us, we had no issues with pitching up in a field or on a cliff top and wild camping. With young children, our needs are a little more complex. Here are the top ten things we look for in a campsite these days.
1. Dog friendly
A family holiday wouldn’t be complete without the dogs. We do occasionally have a few days away without them, but we would never leave them behind if we’re camping so we would actively avoid campsites that won’t accept dogs.
2. Good showers
The showers need to be hot but not too hot for the children. They need to be clean, well maintained and free. There is nothing worse than having to find 20p every time you want a shower.
3. Changing facilities
Thankfully our baby changing days are behind us now. But I remember cold days when we’d just got a baby out of the shower. The long trek back to the tent with a shivering baby to change because there were no changing facilities in the shower block. If you have a baby in nappies, decent changing facilities are a must.
4. Electric hookups
I know it’s not for everyone, but we have a folding camper (a trailer tent with a kitchen) and it’s great being able to use a hob to cook a proper dinner. And it saves a fortune on eating out.
While we’re on the subject of modern luxuries, I do like to have WiFi when I’m camping. It’s essential when you work online – sadly, work doesn’t just stop when you’re away. When Lia was little, we also used to put white noise on for her to sleep. Without WiFi in a campsite, nobody used to get much sleep.
6. An outdoor play area
I don’t expect campsites to cater for our every whim or provide entertainment in the rain. But having a little park that the girls can play on if we’ve got some down time is brilliant. It’s amazing how long young children can spend on a swing before they get bored.
I understand that campsites want to make best use of their space and cram people in. But I don’t want to feel like I’m on holiday in a back-to-back mid-terrace. We’ve got a large tent with an awning but we’d still like a bit of grass for the girls to run around on next to the tent. I don’t think that’s unreasonable.
8. Basic supplies
I like campsites that have a small shop with basic supplies. This is especially crucial if we go somewhere that’s a little bit out in the sticks like Kielder Forest. There’s nothing worse than waking up in the morning and realising the milk’s off and you’ve got an hour round trip to the nearest shop.
9. Helpful staff
Wherever you go with young children, friendly faces can make or break your experience. Sometimes, it’s hard work with two children and two dogs. If staff see me struggling, I’d rather they came over and asked if they could help instead of shouting at my child for riding her bike just off the defined path.
10. Great views
Much as we love camping, it’s hard work. Come the evening, there’s nothing better than sitting outside with a glass of wine, relaxing in beautiful surroundings.
What do you look for in a campsite?