The Ultimate Family Camping Checklist
With the UK about to embark on Summer holiday season, many families will be heading to campsites up and down the country, to seek the cheapest (and arguably most fun!) camping options going.
I’ve been buying loads of family camping kit and equipment over the last few years, ever since Covid hit, as I realised camping trips will be a cheaper holiday option for the peak summer months!
As such, I thought I would create a full blown family camping checklist for everyone that may be going on a camping holiday over the next few months.
The checklist of items below is based on a few nights away camping. For any more time away, you may need extra space, storage and food, so please bear that in mind….nobody wants the kids to get hangry! 🙂
I’ve also assumed your car won’t be far away from your tent, allowing you to carry slightly heavy items to get your pitch sorted. That said, I’ve included a few lightweight items that ensure you don’t break your back (or the bank).
The first important rule is it’s worth investing in some good kit and camping equipment. In all honesty, all the items I’ve listed below could become incredibly expensive if bought them all together, but if you buy the essentials (tent, sleeping bags, furniture), and build up the kit over time, you shouldn’t have any issues, and it will pay dividends in the long term.
Here’s the full family camping checklist:
THE BULKY FAMILY CAMPING ITEMS
FURNITURE & KIT TO KEEP YOU COMFY
CAMPING CHAIRS – You can pick these up for as cheap as £10 is most supermarkets. I’d always go for ones with the drinks holder in the side! You can also buy children’s versions for little ones under 5 years of age. Buy on Amazon from £12.
FOLDING TABLE – Very useful for eating on, putting things on, drying things. In fact along with the camping kitchen listed below, another table comes in very useful! Buy on Amazon from £22.
CAMPING KITCHEN – this is one of my more recent purchases, and is an excellent addition to a family camping checklist. Perfect for storing plates, bowls, cups, pans, stove and other kitchen equipment. I got mine for £1 on Facebook marketplace, but you can pick them up from new on Go Outdoors from £35.
FOLDING EATING AREA – again this was another recent addition, but works perfect for 4 people of all ages. Search for ‘foldable camping picnic table with chairs‘ on eBay or Facebook Marketplace and you should be able to find one. I got mine locally on eBay for £10. Or you can buy on Amazon new from £45.
COOLBOX – this could come as part of the cooking list, but a coolbox is far too important, so I’ve listed it higher up on this camping checklist. I have the Coleman Performance Wheeled 60QT Cooler, which is a great size and keeps things cool for 3 days. It’s a good size for 2 adults and two children, but you could go slightly smaller if you have less alcohol and food to store. You can get good value second hand ones on eBay and Facebook Marketplace, but if you want to buy a new one, I’d go for a Dometic, Yeti, Hi-Gear or Coleman cool box.
KEEP WARM DURING THE NIGHT WHEN CAMPING
SLEEPING BAGS – There are so many to choose from here, but so long as you’re not camping when it drops below 5 degrees celsius, you should be fine with a two or three season sleeping bag. For the kids, I bought the Trespass Child BUNKA 3 Season Sleeping Bag for £20. This is a shorter sleeping bag, but still perfect for up to 7/8 years old. Buy on Amazon from £20.
PILLOWS – Just grab some from home. If you’re wild camping, it’s a different story, but you’ll be in the car, so just chuck some in.
EYE MASK – this was a game changer for helping children sleep longer. If you don’t have blackout bedrooms in your tent, grab a couple of eyemasks…it blocks out the light, helping them get to sleep, AND staying asleep longer in the morning. Buy on Amazon from £6.
SPARE BLANKET – this is camping with children, so expect sleeping bags to be kicked off in the night. If that happens, it’s sometimes easier to throw a blanket over them.
DOUBLE AIRBEDS – I bought two double airbeds during lockdown and they are one of my best family camping purchases. Keep the cold away, and easy to inflate (see below). I have three double bedroom areas in the Vango tent, so I have two doubles. You can also buy singles if you have a smaller tent. Buy on Go Outdoors from £15.
AIR PUMP – the perfect bit of kit for blowing (and deflating your airbeds). If you have an electric hook-up (EHU) pitch, so for the mains plugin version, or instead use the less effective car charger version. Buy on Amazon from £13.
PORTABLE FAN – if the heat is on during the day and you don’t want to let bugs in your tent, it’s likely going to be very warm at bedtime. Moving air is cooling air, so having this as a back up option will help cool everything down. The one I have also has USB ports to charge devices, which is handy! Buy at Amazon for £19.
LAMP – if you need to get up in the middle of the night for any reason, a simple lamp makes things easy, rather than scrambling for your phone light. I got a remote controlled one so I don’t have to leave my sleeping bag to switch it on! 😀 Buy on Amazon from £16.
DOG BED – if you’re bringing your furry friend camping!
KIT FOR COOKING WHEN CAMPING
I won’t link many items on here, as you’ll probably have most of them in your kitchen. But it is useful to keep some cooking equipment just for camping 🙂
WATER CARRIER – useful for making drinks at the tent, adding water to pasta or rice, making tea or even cleaning your teeth. I have a 10 litre collapsible one. Buy on Amazon from £10.
COOKING STOVE – I actually bought two stoves (or you could buy a double stove), but if cooking, say, chilli-con-carne, you need one pan to cook the rice, and another to cook everything else. You can buy simple stoves with 4 gas cylinders on eBay for £20.
PLATES / BOWLS / CUPS – this handy camping set has 4 of each, and the biggest bowl that contains them all can be used for mixing salads and washing up. Buy on Go Outdoors for £11.
CUTLERY – the plastic cutlery in the set above isn’t great. Grab some knives, forks and spoons from your drawer at home.
COOK SET – go for non-stick pans and a non-stick frying pan. I have the Triangia 2-piece non-stick cook set. Buy online at Amazon for £45.
COOKING UTENSILS – slotted spoon, full spoon and the all important spatula. Buy online at eBay for £8.
Washing up liquid
Containers for food storage
Sharp kitchen knife
Mugs for tea/coffee
Ziplock bags for various foods or sandwiches
Washing up brush / scourer
Salt / pepper /tomato ketchup / mayo /sugar
CLOTHES, ACCESSORIES & MORE
Clothes for adults for however many days you’re camping
Clothes for children for however many days you’re camping
Towels (and a towel for the doggy, if applicable)
Phone / tablet / laptop chargers
Sun hats and sunglasses
Footwear, including flip flops
Toiletries & sanitary items
Medications / hayfever tablets
Insect repellent, citronella candles and bug killing spray
First aid kits (plasters, Savlon, Paracetamol, Ibuprofen, Gaviscon, Dioralyte Sachets, nail clippers, scissors, roll of bandages)
Games / books / jigsaws
Football / tennis ball
Dog bowls (if applicable)
FOOD & DRINK
BREAKFAST, DINNERS, ALCOHOL.... 🙂
Everyone has their own food choices and tastes, so this is a guide only. I’ve suggested meals that are easy to cook at the campsite, and fit in the coolbox, but if you want to put in extra effort peeling vegetables, feel free to crack on!
Cereal / porridge
Bacon & sausages
Tea / coffee / hot chocolate
Depending on where you’re camping, there may be some nice options for lunch, such as a pizza van or a cafe. If not, here’s handy lunch checklist:
Bread / bread rolls
Butter / margarine
Baked beans / spaghetti hoops
Pasta & pasta sauces
More pasta and sauces
Chilli-con-carne with rice (pre-made or cook at the campsite)
Chicken stir fry with rice (pre-made or cook at the campsite)
Dog food (not for you! For the doggy, if applicable)
Squash / diluting juice
White / red wine
Cans of gin & tonic / rum and coke / pre-made cocktails
Hopefully this family camping checklist will help guide you for any weekend trips you’ve got planned!
Let me know how you get on! 🙂
Disclosure – this post contains affiliate links to external sites. This means I get a small commission for anything you purchase after clicking the links. It’s not much, but it does allow me to pay for my web hosting 🙂