Not everyone is ready to jet off to far-flung lands, so why not opt for a slower pace of travel with a summer staycation right here in the UK?
Many of us missed out on summer holidays abroad last year with lots of changed plans and cancelled bookings due to covid-19 restrictions. But with lockdown gradually lifting across the country, we can feel the buzz of excitement spreading with everyone beginning to book their summer breaks with family and friends.
We’ve teamed up with Cool Camping to give you their top tips for planning a camping trip for the whole family to enjoy!
Looking for some inspiration? Head over to our Top 10 Staycation Destinations blog to find out more!
About Cool Camping...
The Cool Camping concept was born in 2005 after travel writer Jonathan Knight and friends spent an idyllic weekend camping on a farm in South Wales. Wondering where to go next, Jonathan read endless camping directories but found nothing that genuinely picked out the best places to travel with the tent. What spawned was the nation’s best-loved camping guidebook series, including Cool Camping: Britain, Cool Camping: France and Cool Camping: Kids, each featuring a hand-picked selection of campsites and tips on what to do if it rains and where to find the nearest pub. Today, the same inspiration and information can be found on coolcamping.com, an online collection that remains dedicated to finding and recommending the very best independent campsites and glamping stays. Campers can search, compare and book their holidays in one easy place, leaving their own reviews and recommendations for fellow travellers and holidaymakers.
Planning a staycation with the kids this year?
Consider these before you pitch up your tent...
1) Find the campsite that fits
Any parent will know it’s crucial to consider all ages when picking a place to go on holiday. Look for campsites that are aimed at families and, if you’ve got little ones, look for facilities like family shower and changing rooms. While you don’t necessarily need the kids clubs or restaurants of the commercial holiday parks, a few basic provisions, like games to borrow, will make your holiday all the more enjoyable.
2) Avoid overpacking
We’ve all done it – brought everything but the kitchen sink ‘just in case’. But when it comes to camping, less is generally more. Beyond the obvious (tent, torches, bedding, weather-proof clothes) the key to camping in comfort is not to over-pack. Many campsites provide firepits and benches as standard and many stock essential supplies in a shop – be sure to do a thorough reccy of what’s included beforehand. Top tip – let your little ones pack one bag of their own favourite games, toys and books.
3) Leave the gadgets at home
The whole point of camping is to switch-off and while many campsites now have WiFi, you shouldn’t expect it everywhere and mobile phone signal can be hard to come by too. So embrace the digital detox and make your camping break a gadget-free getaway. Grassy fields with bugs, woods for building dens and a whole lot of imagination is all kids need for fun and games on the campsite and after the last few years we’ve had it’s a far better way of encouraging them to socialise too.
4) Safety first
There’s a fine line between common-sense safety and overbearing nanny state, and the best campsites strike a happy balance. If you have younger children, look for campsites with vehicle-free fields, ensuring plenty of safe space for kids to roam. Parents should also be mindful of any nearby lakes and rivers – be sure to check ahead of booking – but don’t let it put you off, a cold swim or river splash on a hot summer’s day is the perfect family activity.
5) Practice, practice, practice
If you have the time (and the space), try putting the tent up at home before you go on holiday. It’s the perfect time to check you still have all the right parts and remind yourself how to do it so that, when you arrive at the campsite after a long journey, you’re well practiced and can set-up more quickly. Turn it into a family activity in the garden at home and the kids won’t realise it’s really just secret revision.
And don’t forget… a water container, matches, towels, a tin opener, a cork-screw and a sponge!
Staycation, staycation, staycation...
We chatted to the wonderful team at Cool Camping about their favourite spots to visit; from pitching tents in picturesque spots in Pembrokeshire, to camping in the comfort of campervans in Cornwall - their stories are sure to inspire your next adventure!
My preferred version of camping is tents of course! My fiancé and I love nothing more than pitching our tent either in a seaside or waterfront location, as long as it's next to water with some incredible views we're happy. There is something quite brilliant about the teamwork it takes to pitch a tent, you really end up feeling like you've earned the marshmallows that you're about to toast on the firepit. Although, saying that, I have just booked a glamping stay for our honeymoon in a very decadent dome with an outdoor bath!
My favourite places to camp in the UK: Snowdonia has to be at the top of my list! To me the scenery and what's on offer there is unparalleled, it's 100 percent worth the 5 hour drive, you have incredible walks, underrated beaches, amazing food and stellar campsites, I actually went camping there last October (we were feeling brave) and we climbed Mount Snowdon. Dorset is also a great spot, easy to get to from London with stunning beaches and pretty market towns. We stayed at a small pop-up site that was a short drive from all the hot spots but felt very tucked away and magical. - Clarice.
I like camping, in our own bell tent, in Cornwall. You get that bit more space in a bell tent for all the kiddy paraphernalia and can make it feel homely and magical with some rugs, fairy lights and pom poms strung up! Whilst it’s a bit more of a faff to pack than glamping where it’s all there ready and waiting for you, it’s lovely to have all your creature comforts around - especially for the tiny people! Cornwall is our hotspot because of the beaches, food and tiny country roads. You can find dreamy beach restaurants like The Hidden Hut, where all the food is sourced locally and cooked on fires on the beach. - Lucy.
I used to be an avid wild camper and particularly love travelling light, with a small tent and exploring on multi-day bike trips or by canoe – you can’t beat riverside campsites in summer. And, for that reason, my favourite UK camping spots are probably some of the great family campsites along the banks of the River Wye or in the Norfolk Broads. More recently, though, I’ve taken a real shine to travelling by campervan, which is almost the exact opposite of the lightweight experience. Campervans let you pack a bit more stuff and I love the convenience of being able to cook and prepare meals with all the utensils and cooking kit properly organised. The ease of travelling between multiple campsites one a single trip without having to erect the tent each time is a bit of a life saver and I’m looking forward to a road-trip around Northern Ireland later this year. In the meantime, though, for a quick weekend when the weather’s good, I’ll still be taking my small tent to local campsites and enjoying being out amongst nature. - James.
I love camping in tents with friends across the UK, particularly anywhere with campfires near the beach! My favourite camping destinations would probably be Devon or Cornwall because of the beautiful surroundings and things to do. I also have fond memories from when I was younger of camping holidays near Whitby and around the Yorkshire coast. These days though, when I get together with my family we tend to go all out with a glamping stay, such as a spacious safari tent with great views – I’m really looking forward to when we are allowed to all go away together again safely. My campervan trip to Pembrokeshire was cancelled when Wales went into lockdown so I would love my next holiday to be somewhere in South Wales. - Lauren.
Always a keen tent camper I’ve more recently been converted to the dark side and more often than not I’m found glamping these days instead. Our three kids still get to enjoy the inspiring outdoors, hooning around in the woods and playing games with fellow glampers, but we can arrive to a tent that’s pre-pitched and a proper bed for the night, so what’s not to love about that? Ultimately, I think it’s the location that makes for the best campsite, though. Like many, the South West is usually my destination of choice but for a truly special trip I think it’s worth crossing the water to the Isles of Scilly. They really are unlike anywhere else in the UK and in the height of summer when you fly in over the dinghy-dotted bays it feels like you’re visiting a far-flung tropical place. - Jonathan.
Packing for a typical British summertime?
Come rain or shine, we've got you covered! Shop our sustainable swimwear or adventure-ready outerwear at welovefrugi.com