Camping enables us to not just have one holiday a year but a whole series of weekends and weeks away, allowing us to be spontaneous rather than having to plan, book and pay for a holiday months in advance.
Getting away at the last minute, however, means making the trip as stress-free as possible so that I am literally able to pick up the kids from school and head off. Being organised and ticking off your checklist is a given but what are the top ten camping shortcuts?
1 Duplicate your kit
It may sound expensive but with value versions of everything from tin openers to graters available from supermarkets buying specific versions for camping is so much easier than having the raid the kitchen drawers before each camping trip.
2 Plan your meals
Work out a basic camping menu with food that is easily stored (tins etc) between trips. Pre-cooking and freezing camping friendly meals such as spaghetti bolognaise or chilli con carne can be done in bulk and once in your coolbox also helps to keep your food cold.
3 Pack in plastic
Buy a selection of plastic crates or boxes – ideally with lids on, that you can store your camping items in. It makes packing far easier and speeds up tent set up and putdown – as well as allowing you to prepack in the rain!
4 Pack lightly
The less you pack the less time it will take. Sounds obvious but it’s very easy to over pack for a camping trip especially with regards to clothing. Just remember clothes can be layered, grime is part of the fun of camping and anyway most sites will have laundry facilities on site if things get really dirty.
5 Camp with friends
Not only does this mean you can share jobs and responsibilities onsite but you can also take it in turns to plan and organise your camping trips – meaning all you have to do is pack the car and turn up, unless it’s your turn of course!
6 Keep it close
One of the most literal camping shortcuts of all is to camp near to home. For short weekend breaks you will be more willing to camp more often if there is not a massive drive before or after each trip.
7 Keep the kids amused
Pack a bag of toys suitable for camping that the kids won’t miss at home – such as cards, drawing and outdoor toys. Squeezing in a portable DVD player that can be used in the car or on rainy days when the kids are bored will also be a lifesaver.
8 Go pop-up
One of the best time saving devices I have ever found was my pop-up tent bought online the same evening a friend of mine showed me – tent envy at its best! Now with the ability to have a four man tent up in seconds I don’t hesitate to go away even if only for one night.
9 Ensure easy access to your equipment
Out of season my camping equipment is rammed tightly in the cupboard under the stairs – disturbed only when the gasman comes to read the meter. In season however I keep most of my camping gizmos in a waterproof, lockable cabinet in the garden making it easy to hump things in and out of the car at short notice whilst some stuff I don’t even bother unpacking at all leaving it in the car ready for the next trip.
10 Clean and pack as you go
Ensuring your equipment is put away clean between trips while you are still on them prevents a big clear up afterwards and simple tactics – such as my friend’s addiction to wiping her tent down with wet wipes means the tent will be clean and ready for use next time you get it out.