Just like many other adults of my age group, childhood holidays for me were generally spent under canvas. Holidays abroad seemed to be exclusively reserved for the rich and famous, and as we were most definitely neither, my parents would religiously pack up our trailer tent at the start of August for a two-week jolly in a windswept campsite in Norfolk.
Ever since that time, camping has held a very dear place in my heart and as soon as I had children, I was keen to recreate some of these happy times for my children – much to my husband’s horror. His family were fortunate enough to have fallen into the ‘rich’ camp (pardon the pun) so summer holidays to him meant two weeks lounging outside a hotel in Spain, with the kids tucked away in a kids club. Not on my watch!
As soon as I felt my children were old enough to cope with a couple of nights sans central heating and sterilisation equipment, we packed up out clothes, torches slippers and set off on our first camping adventure. However, what I had failed to take into account was that camping as a child, and camping as an adult were two very different things. Here’s what I learnt during this time:
Camping should be time to enjoy the simple life, not trying to set up a second home. I quickly learnt that as a child I had never needed to wear clothes that were meticulously ironed, so I shouldn’t have worried about packing the iron and ironing board. Not even travel sized ones.
Just because you tell yourself you are going on holiday, so the weather is bound to be hot and sunny, it doesn’t mean this is actually going to happen in real life, particularly if you are going camping in England where you will need to remember to bring a few layers for the evening. However if you are lucky enough to be camping in Italy, then warmth will not be a problem! Just make sure you have your swim-wear and good sun protection.
Relax the Rules
One of the things I had loved most about camping holidays when I was little, was the complete abandonment of the rules and regulations we had at home. Bedtimes became a thing of the past, and we were allowed to run around playing with our new-found friends until we dropped. Meals usually consisted of something mushy from a tin, accompanied by tinned sausages. And hygiene standards were reduced to a quick shower once a week or a wash in the washing-up sinks.
Don’t even try to stick to your usual routine when camping – throw away the rule books and have fun!
Once you’ve been on a couple of practice runs, and decide that camping holidays are for you, the world is your oyster – literally. There is a huge amount of high quality, family friendly campsites situated all over the UK and Europe that are well worth a visit this summer. Do your research and look for reviews from other campers who will tell you what the site and facilities were really like.
Yes, your hair will look like Kevin Keegans from the 80’s. You might not have had the best night’s sleep, and you’ll find yourself wearing strange clothing combinations like flip-flops and socks (and really not caring) but I can promise you, your children will have the best holiday of their lives. Sleeping under the stars is a completely unique experience – why not give it a go this summer?