Cost Effective Camping

11 July 2013

Summer is here! Yippee!! It’s time for you to leap into your cars and beetle off to camping grounds across the UK (and the world) to enjoy nature and each other. Oh yes, and it WILL be fun. You can dance in the rain, get muddy, sing stupid songs, make smores and even live in the lap of luxury. Here’s how…

Getting the perfect camping kit sorted out can cost a lot of money. There is so much to get – the stove, the gas, the seating, the sleeping stuff, the tent… This all adds up pretty quickly and if you buy it all at once you can end up spending more than you would have on a luxury holiday overseas.

You don’t need to spend a lot of money getting the perfect camping setup, but you do need to plan at least a year in advance. Here is how you can choose the perfect family tent and get your kit sorted out before the next summer holiday rolls around.

How big is your family and how much personal space do you need? For some, a little tent is fine and cuddling together is just lovely, for others that thought is akin to hell. Your best bet is to go for a tent that’s easy to assemble, suitable for four to five people and that is aimed at the novice. We used to have the world’s most complicated tent and I remember giving up and sleeping in the car one summer…

While easy to assemble is an important factor along with size, you also need to consider the rooms in the tent. Will you give the children, and yourselves, some privacy?  When you have two or more children they can get a bit funny about sharing a room, and sometimes you would just like to get dressed without having your kids ask why your bum wobbles like that...

Keep an eye out for tents that have a certain amount of flexibility in the layout of your sleeping areas. It’s ideal to get one that lets you drop a section between you or between the sleeping and the relaxing areas. Some tents even come with designated living areas but whether or not you invest in one of these will depend on your budget and how often you camp.

This may sound obvious, but some tents really don’t seem to cater for the proliferation of bugs that comes with living in nature. You need to make sure that your tent has a proper mesh covering that goes over the various windows without gaping holes, and give you the option to cover the front door.

The same goes for ventilation. There are few things worse than hot, sticky and airless tents, especially if you happen to go camping in the middle of a heatwave. Don’t end up buying a tent that compromises on the basic comfort essentials because you’ll just end up dreading the break.  Make sure that you find yourself well-ventilated tent that has adequate airing and mesh for insect control. 

Most tents, especially the smaller and cheaper ones, will only come with one door. If you can afford it, then looking for one that comes with more than one entrance is brilliant as it keeps the air flowing, prevents gridlock when coming and going, and can help keep the mess down in rainy weather. We have a Rain entrance and a clean exit. That way the Rain entrance is where the muddy shoes and goo gathers while the rest of the tent stays clean and warm and dry.

If you camp regularly, then spending more money on a tent that will grow with the family and has all the extras is a wise use of money. It will last for years and will keep on fitting you all in. A cheap and nasty tent with limited space will be a false economy.

Look for special features on your tent too. Many deals now come with all sorts of lovely extras like airbeds and porches or extensions, sleeping bags, canopies and more. You should also look out for storage compartments as they are pretty much essential for the family camper.

The reason I recommend you take a year to prepare your camping kit is because you can use this time to buy one or two things a month. I tend to live on deal sites like our sister site Hot UK Deals so I can nab discounts, voucher codes and deals on things I still need. I have been slowly buying one or two things a month – last month was a camping stove – so that when I finally get to next year I will have the ultimate camping set.

What do you think?

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