We recently took our toddler twins on their first ever camping trip. We took them to the Camping and Caravanning Club in Dartmouth. It doesn’t seem long ago that my 8 year old was a toddler and I took her camping too – in Dorset, Devon and France. Camping with toddlers can be daunting and even moreso when you have two toddlers! I decided to compile a few tips, of things that we found helpful, to make camping with toddlers as stress free as possible.
1. Trial run. Try putting up your tent in your living room or garden and having a practice run at sleeping in a tent. Not only will it give you practice at erecting your tent, but it will give you clues as to how well your toddler adapts and settles in a tent, so you can plan ahead.
2. Choose a campsite with a play area. The play area comes in extremely handy when you are waiting for your significant other to cook dinner, shower or put up the tent.
3. Take some home comforts. Most importantly, if they have a favourite teddy, blanket or attachment toy, it goes without saying that this is the singlemost important item you will pack. Taking a blanket or duvet that smells of home and a nice bedtime story can also help settle toddlers in the unfamiliar environment that is camping.
4. Unless you are going for a technology blackout, take a tablet or laptop pre-loaded with a few bedtime-friendly movies. If a storybook and cuddles doesn’t settle your toddler and the whole sleeping under canvas idea seems unsettling to them, a movie in bed might just help distract them from their worries so they can drift off to sleep. I’d recommend being strict with this though and only allowing the ONE movie or programme per day and only at bedtime if they are unsettled – after all the idea of camping is to embrace nature.
5. Day trips. Plan lots of activities or day trips, as all that fresh air and exercise will wear your toddlers out and most likely mean they sleep better. It’ll also make some wonderful memories and prevent any older siblings from a classic case of “I’m bored” style whining.
6. Contingency plan. Particularly if you are camping in Britain – You will need activities for rainy days and bad weather. Everything from indoor tourist attractions, to colouring books in the tent. A bored toddler on a miserable day does not make for great holiday memories.
7. Don’t forget torches and batteries! You will need these when it gets dark and in order to read that bedtime story. You will also need it for middle-of-the-night toilet trips if your toddler is toilet trained. If your toddler is potty training or will use a potty, make sure you take one, as this can save having to walk across the campsite shivering in your PJ’s numerous times throughout the evening.
8. Take far more clothes than you think you will need. Camping comes with extra mud and extra rain, so you may end up needing to change clothes or layer up more than you expect, because toddlers often feel the cold more than us grown ups.
9. Snacks. All that activity is likely to increase your toddlers appetite, so make sure you take lots of healthy snacks that they enjoy.
10. Be prepared to go to bed early. If your toddler is really unsettled, go to bed early yourself and you might just find that your presence in the sleeping area of the tent is enough to make them drift off into a happy comfortable sleep.