We’ve gathered all of our resources, asked our experts and scoured our archives to bring you the most epic list of camping tips on the internet. Whether you’re new to camping and haven’t got a clue where to start, or a seasoned camper looking to improve your set up, this is a must-read.
In this guide:
The weather in the UK is notoriously unpredictable. We recommend packing:
Despite it not always being accurate, checking the weather forecast will give you a good idea of what to prepare for.
You can view our things to do for the area you’re camping in before leaving home. These suggestions are perfect for planning your days on and off the campsite before you arrive. From visiting top UK attractions to enjoying the forest on these walking and cycling trails, there’s so much to do.
Sure, packing light is handy. However, you won’t know what you really need until you’ve been camping a few times. Don’t listen to anyone that tells you that you’ve packed too much. It’s fine to be prepared for all situations until you can put together your own, personalised list of essentials to pack.
Out of season sales are a great way to save money on camping kit and accessories. Look out for these over the low season to see if you can bag some bargains. Remember to do your research before investing to make sure you’re paying the best price available.
Fingers crossed you won’t need to use it, but having the basics to clean and bandage a wound will be invaluable if you or someone you’re with does have an accident. If you’re camping with a dog, taking a separate first aid kit is a great idea.
There are endless camping packing lists available online. You can find our expert-led list of camping essentials here to get you started.
Although it can make for a great photo opportunity, pitching up under a tree can pose a few issues. Trees in high wind can become a real hazard with falling branches very likely to cause damage to your unit. It’s also really annoying having to clean tree sap off or bird mess off of your tent.
Consider whether you’d prefer a hand-held torch or a headlight for trips to the facilities after dark. Check if there’s a convenient place in your unit to hang a lantern, if not you may need to get a free-standing light.
You’ll most likely run out of battery on your phone during your trip and it’d be a shame not to be able to snap your memorable moments. Many campsites offer electric pitches and phone charging facilities but having a portable option while you’re away from the campsite can be useful.
Books, board games, cards and outdoor games are all options for staying entertained on the campsite. For some outdoor, camping friendly ideas, view our camping game ideas for kids and adults.
Signal can be variable in rural camping locations so online streaming can be hit and miss. Taking a phone for accessing online maps, contacting people and taking pictures is fine but leave the rest of the tech (and the stress) at home.
You’ll miss basic items of furniture when you’re camping. Having a chair and table, a place to set your tea down and enjoy your meals is a great way to make your unit feel a little more like home.
Arriving on your chosen campsite is an exciting moment. However, the mood can sometimes be ruined with kid’s boredom while adults are busy setting up the camping area. Give older kids helpful jobs to do and plan fun activities younger kids can do without assistance while you’re busy setting up.
As a Camping and Caravanning Club member, you’ll have access to a whole host of benefits. Exclusive offers throughout the year, retail discounts and a dedicated team of technical experts to offer support are just a few of the perks that you get with your annual fee. If you’re new to camping, find out about joining the club here.
Fairy lights make great, affordable lighting inside your unit. They’ll also help to create a lovely, relaxing atmosphere.
If you’re staying on a campsite that doesn’t guarantee toilet paper, make sure you take your own. You can keep it in a reusable sealable bag to save on space if needed. Many campers take anti-bacterial wipes and wet wipes so they’re always prepared for the facilities block.
Camping is a great way of reusing any plastic bags you have. Use them for waterproofing items, storing dirty clothes, carrying items from the campsite shop and much more. Just remember to reuse them as many times as you can!
Put your tent and any other essentials you may need to grab while you’re pitching up in the car last. This means they’ll be the first things you can grab when you arrive on your chosen campsite.
This is a great tip, just in case you find yourself with noisy neighbours or unused to the sounds of the great outdoors while you’re trying to sleep. Most campsites will have rules around noise levels after a certain time of night. Pack a pair of earplugs and you’ll always be able to sleep soundly.
Most campsites will have a set of guidelines you’ll be required to follow. This is for the safety and comfort of everyone on the campsite. You can read our campsite rules here.
Unfortunately, there are opportunistic people around, and you’ll need to be vigilant with your valuables. Use your common sense and don’t leave things unattended. If you’re leaving the campsite for the day, take any valuables with you and always remember to lock up your bikes.
23. No two campsites are the same
It’s great if you find a favourite site to visit regularly but do explore other campsites to get a feel of the different options available.
Your first time camping is all about getting a feel for the great outdoors and experiencing the freedom it brings. To save on initial outlay, try to borrow kit from friends or family. You can also get many second-hand items in a great condition online.
When you’re on your campsite, there’s bound to be something you have questions about. Don’t be afraid to ask site staff or fellow campers for help. The camping community’s full of friendly faces and everyone remembers what it’s like starting out.
Feel free to say good morning to your neighbours but know when to keep to yourself. Some campers will be up for socialising but many will keep to themselves, preferring to relax on their pitch in private.
There are certain things you’ll need to pack and jobs you’ll need to do before you leave home if you’re taking your four-legged friend camping. View our dog-friendly holiday tips here.
There’s always a chance that you’ll forget something, experience terrible weather or even decide you want to go home early on your first trip. Choosing a campsite not too far away from home allows you to make a quick return or go back to pick something up that you’ve forgotten.
Drink spills, mud and messy kids can all be resolved with the help of a wet wipe. Keeping your camping area clean is a vital part of being able to enjoy your camping trip. Just make sure you look out for biodegradable options.
Cooking inside your tent, under an awning or right next to your tent poses an extreme fire risk. You should always cook in an open space, clear of any potential obstructions or fire risks. Burning any type of fuel in a non-ventilated space means you’re also at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Take the safe route and brave cooking outside no matter what the weathers doing.
Food waste and packaging can get blown around by the wind, littering the campsite and causing unnecessary damage to the environment. To prevent harm to wildlife and unhappy neighbours, dispose of any rubbish in the campsite bins.
Cooking on a campsite is much easier when you know exactly what you’re making and have all of the ingredients you need. Check out our camping recipes for some inspiration.
If you’re camping in a tent, it’s a good idea to set up a hand washing station next to your cooking area so you don’t have to walk back and forth to the facilities block. Hand sanitizer is handy to have around but try not to use it in place of soap and water!
Whipping up a quick bite to eat on a campsite can take longer than it would in your home, so make sure you have plenty of easy to grab snacks around to tide you over.
Avoid plastic waste by taking a reusable bottle for each person you’re camping with. You can fill your bottle up on the campsite and take it with you when you go out for the day. Stainless steel bottles are great at keeping drinks hot or cold all day.
Got a tea towel that’s past its best at home? Use that for your camping trip. Anything you take camping with you is bound to get a little worn so don’t take new versions of something you already have.
Bad weather, a broken camping stove or exhaustion after a long day away from the campsite are all reasons you may not want to cook at the end of the day. Pack a few options that need no or minimal cooking so you can give yourself a break.
You can chop vegetables, pre-mix pancake batter and crack eggs before you leave home to save you a bit of time on the campsite.
It’s always a good idea to check your cooking equipment’s in working order before leaving home to avoid any setbacks once you arrive on your campsite. View our easy camping stove meals for some inspiration.
Limit the number of times you have to walk to and from the water tap by keeping a large container of water on your pitch. This is great for refilling your water bottles, washing your hands and for using when cooking.
Tea bags are one of the most common items to be forgotten, but one of the most valued by many campers.
Ziploc bags may be convenient, but single-use plastic isn’t great for the environment or the wildlife around our campsites. You can buy reusable silicone food storage bags, food containers and even beeswax food wraps that you can use time and time again.
If you’re camping for just a few days, investing in a camping stove may not be worth the cost when there are some fantastic local places to grab a bite to eat. Take a look at the best pubs and breweries in the New Forest as an example.
Even in the peak of summer, the temperature in the UK can really drop at night. You’ll only sleep well if you’re warm enough so go prepared for a cold night, with the option to remove layers.
The first thing to consider is what you’ll be sleeping on. The ground will absorb all of your heat given a chance, so make sure you put the right gear between you and it. This guide to sleeping mats should tell you everything you need to know.
Your sleeping bag is going to be your main insulation while you sleep, so investing in something comfortable, lightweight and long-lasting is worth the money. This guide to sleeping bags should give you a few pointers.
You can buy camping pillows, but they’re not necessarily needed. If you’re backpacking or low on space, camping pillows can pack down to save on weight and room. Otherwise, any comfy pillow you like will do the job.
Blankets can be used as an additional insulation layer on the ground, a cosy extra in your sleeping bag or for putting across your lap on a colder evening. It’s better to have another layer you can use than need one and not have it.
You don’t need to add any additional flooring to your tent, but it is an easy way of ramping up the comfort factor. Foam floor pads, spare carpet and fluffy blankets are great for insulation; they can also protect your tent flooring from wear and tear.
If you’re unfamiliar with the mechanisms behind heat loss, take a look at this explanation of the methods of heat loss, which very quickly explains how we lose heat to our surroundings. Once you understand how your body temperature drops, you’ll know how to stay warmer.
If you sleep with your mouth inside your sleeping bag, the water vapour in your breath will make the inside of your sleeping bag damp which will make you colder and uncomfortable.
If you’re especially susceptible to cold weather and camping with the means to heat up water, a hot water bottle can be a great option for tucking inside your sleeping bag. Just remember that if you get so hot that you start to sweat, you may wake up colder later in the night.
The size of a tent is described by the maximum number of people that can sleep inside it. A two-berth tent, for example, is designed to fit two adults. Although this is great as a rough guide, you’ll probably want some extra space to store your gear and move around inside your tent. We recommend buying a tent which is at least one size up from the amount of people sleeping in it.
Camping shows are a great way to get a feel of different tent sizes and shapes. Find out about upcoming camping shows here.
Pitching a tent in the dark isn’t an enjoyable experience, especially if it’s one of your first times. Plan to arrive during daylight hours and remember that the sun sets much earlier in the winter months.
Look at the ground where you’re about to pitch your tent. It should be mostly even, so you don’t find yourself on a slope. Check there are no rocks, stones or rubbish which can impact on comfort and damage your groundsheet.
Taking up little room in the car, microfiber cloths will come in handy countless times during your camping trip. Whether it’s a drink spillage, rainy weather, or excess condensation, you’ll be thankful you have a quick-drying cloth to use.
Using your foot to drive tent pegs into the ground is a recipe for disaster. You’re very likely to bend the pegs if you’ve got hiking boots on, rendering them useless. If you haven’t got solid shoes on, you’re more likely to cause yourself a nasty foot injury. If you’ve forgotten your mallet, ask to borrow someone else’s or find a rock to use instead.
This can help prevent you from tripping over them, which is easily done. You can also get reflective guy ropes which are helpful when coming back to your tent after a late trip to the facilities block.
Many campers will have a rule that shoes aren’t allowed inside the tent at all. This is a great way of keeping the interior of the tent clean and dry in all weathers. Always make sure muddy or wet shoes are left at the entrance of your tent; you can always pack a pair of comfy slippers to wear inside.
If it’s your first time pitching a tent, or your tent has been in storage for a while, it’s a good idea to get it out and put it up in the garden before you leave. Check you’re comfortable with putting it together and look out for any damage or wear. You can even practice putting all of your kit inside to check it fits how you’d like. Doing a trial run at home is a great way to build your confidence if you’re a first-timer and it should help to ensure pitching up on the campsite goes smoothly.
If you’ve bought a tent big enough for you and your gear this shouldn’t be a problem (see point 49). During your trial run at home, you can double-check that your gear fits inside your tent comfortably.
You’ll want to pitch your tent with enough tension to protect it from high winds. If you do that with your tent doors open, you may struggle to zip them up.
You can use duct tape to mend a tear in your tent, seal unused food bags, repair your glasses, cover a blister, fix a leaking water bottle and much more. The uses are endless!
Find out about the best tent materials and what to look out for in our tent buying guide.
Packing your tent away on the campsite is okay if it’s wet but make sure you dry it out as soon as you get home. Storing a wet tent can lead to mould and a much shorter lifespan than the manufacturer intended. If the weathers dry, you can put your tent up in the garden to dry it out. If you need to dry it indoors, laying it on a flat surface and turning every few hours should do the job.
Some campsites will require different types of tent pegs due to ground conditions. You’ll usually be notified of this prior to arriving on your campsite of choice. Some of the varieties of tent pegs to be aware of are rock pegs, snow pegs and stake pegs which are usually a good all-rounder. Many campers will build up a supply of pegs and take a variety along with them just in case spares are needed. For more information on the varieties, read our guide to tent pegs.
Sometimes the hardest part of taking down a tent is figuring out how it fits back inside the bag. Taking pictures of the tent as you take it out can help you figure out how to get it back in.
Dry campers are happy campers! Pack at least one set of spare clothes in case the ones you’re wearing get wet. Do your research on materials which retain heat and dry quickly, investing in a few good items to see you through will make your camping trip much more comfortable.
The best way to stay warm is to layer up your clothing, but if your layers are tight, you’ll slow your circulation and end up with cold limbs.
Don’t wait until your fingers are numb to try and get warm. As soon as you start to feel cold, figure out why and fix it. It’s much harder to get warm when you’re really cold than it is to maintain a constant level of comfort.
You may not want to wear your waterproofs when you’re spending the day exploring a new city or town. Pack a compact umbrella so you can be prepared for Britain’s rainy weather.
This follows on from the point above; make sure your clothes are stored in a waterproof box or bag. This tip ensures you’ll always have a dry set of clothes.
Pack a pair of shoes you can slip on and off quickly for trips to the facility block and wandering around the campsite. It’ll save you a lot of time and effort during your trip.
If you’re camping during cold weather, getting out of your sleeping bag can be a struggle. Having your clothes for the day ahead in your sleeping bag overnight means they’ll be warm in the morning. View all of our cold weather camping tips here.
Made it to the end? Don’t stop here; we have plenty more camping information, camping recipes and family camping inspiration for you to get stuck in to.
Alternatively, check out our camping locations to start planning your next trip away.
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