CAMPING | Are We Nearly There Yet? Tips to Take the Stress out of Holiday Car Journeys

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In the past few years the UK tourist board has seen a huge increase in the number of us choosing to take holidays in this country rather than venturing abroad. The surge in popularity for camping and glamping holidays reflects this shift, as more people welcome the chance to embrace the great outdoors and discover what the UK has to offer.

OUtwell Padres XL Bamboo Camp Kitchen packed in the boot of my carUnloading my car ready to set up camp

One benefit of a staycation is that holidaying closer to home means much less time taken up with travel, generally just involving a single car journey. However, for families, the car journey can be trying! As kids we used to holiday in the South of France, which meant hour after hour tightly packed into the back of the car with my two siblings. I’m not sure how our parents coped with our constant mucking around, bickering and moaning about being bored, hungry or needing a wee.

In a recent survey conducted by Hatchbag, they asked the public what they felt the most stressful thing about driving around the UK on holiday was. Over a third of respondents said they found poor weather to be the most stressful factor. Packing and unpacking the car stressed out 21% of respondents, while cramped conditions vexed a further 11.1% of holiday makers (I can definitely related to that one!).

Car journeys don’t have to be an ordeal though, and these days I always do my best to ensure the journey is all part of the adventure.

To help reduce some of the stress from traveling to your holiday destination, here are some top tips.

Camping packingPacking for a family camping or glamping holiday takes practice!

Top car packing tips for campers

A home for everything

As seasoned campers will know, a bit of careful planning will make your trip much more enjoyable. Invest in some stackable plastic boxes for storing your gear – one for food, one for cooking equipment and so on. This will help you easily locate what you are looking for and prevents the tent from getting too cluttered, whilst in transit it means everything can be easily packed and kept together.

Get tactical with your packing

There is quite an art to packing the car for a camping trip, and Tetris often springs to mind whenever I’m packing mine. The trick is to start by packing the boot with items that you won’t need immediately, especially big bulky items of furniture. Always make sure that you pack the tent (pegs and mallet!) so they can be easily accessed as these will be the first things you need to lay your hands on when you arrive at the camp site.

It may take a couple of attempts to get it right, but once you have mastered the packing order, take a picture of your perfectly packed boot to help you repack on the way back.

Get creative with your space

Camping equipment can be bulky. If you have room, dropping the back seats will provide more packing space, but it could be worth considering a roof box or even a trailer. If your rear-seat passengers don’t require much leg room you could also use the foot-wells in the back of the car, ideal for things like cool boxes and sleeping bags, whilst if you have one, a roof box is great for storing lighter items like bedding, blankets and camp chairs.

Protect your car from the elements

Lugging heavy tents and bulky equipment in and out of the car can take its toll on your car’s interior, as can the mud and sand that comes with camping holidays. We recommend Investing padded boot liner to minimise scratches and scrapes when packing and unpacking the car — it will also serve as the perfect place to store muddy boots, wet weather gear and sand-coated play equipment once you have pitched up, reducing the amount of mess and clutter in your tent.

Would you believe all of this camping gear, plus a full roof box was just for weekend camping trip for 2?!

Top tips for the journey

Rain doesn’t have to stop play

Rainy conditions can certainly add an element of stress to a journey and poor driving conditions can often hold up traffic. This is where in-car entertainment for the kids is key. Downloading a few child friendly movies on to a tablet will help distract the kids — look out for devices that allow you to attach the tablet to the front head rests to help prevent travel sickness. Investing in volume restricted headphones will also protect the entire family from being subjected to the entire back catalogue of Peppa Pig throughout the journey!

Good old fashioned fun

If you prefer your camping holidays to be back-to-basics and tech-free, arm yourself with some family-friendly guessing games and ‘would you rather’ dilemmas to help while away the traffic jams — these will also come in handy when you are having down time on site. It’s likely that you will get bored of these games way before the kids do, so make sure you have plenty of variations!

Dodge the traffic

Consider timing your journey to avoid peak travel times, but keep in mind the time it will take to pitch up when you arrive! For added peace of mind you could consider adding a dash cam to your car which is a great way to ensure that if the worst should happen, you’ll have valuable footage. For a hassle free journey though, If possible, try to time it so you arrive at the site just before the evening rush hour. This will give you plenty of time after pitching to sit back and enjoy your first barbecue of the holiday.

Food on the go

Being ‘hangry’ is one sure way to make a trying journey worse! With this in mind, make sure you stock up on snacks that are easy to munch on the go. Pre-packed mini picnics are a godsend when camping with kids. Not only will they provide a distraction on the journey, they will also ensure that they aren’t demanding barbecued sausages before you have even unpacked the stove.

And relax!

Once you have finally squeezed everything including the kitchen sink into your car, braved a few hours in transit and arrived at your destination, it’s time for the fun to really start. Hopefully your tactical packing will help ensure that you find everything you need to get pitched up quickly, not to mention being able to instantly locate that well-earned drink.

Shell Robshaw-Bryan
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