Tent Camping: what you’ll need

In the last couple years, we’ve discovered the joy of camping! Not only it is an affordable way to holiday, but it’s always so much fun and offers a sense of adventure and excitement. I still have such fond memories of my childhood camping adventures, and I know that our recent camping trips will remain etched in our children’s memories banks forever. There is something about sleeping in a tent, cooking over a fire, bathing in the ocean, and relaxing in a camp chair with friends at the end of the day that makes for such happy memories!

Of course we’ve camped before — but always in a camper van, which comes with all of the necessary camp equipment, beds, kitchen, bathroom, etc. Camping in a tent is different, and it requires a new level of organisation and planning. But… once you have what you need, it really is such an easy way to enjoy a fun weekend away.

Packing for a camping trip is always the hardest bit. Somehow, it’s always a bigger task than you imagine it to be, and inevitably, no matter how organised you are, there will be something you’ll forget. (The last time we went camping, we forgot our dustpan and broom, which is essentially for keeping a big tent clean and tidy!)

We are actually heading off on another weekend camping adventure tomorrow, so while I’m in the packing and planning mode, I thought it would be helpful if I outlined all the things you need for a simple weekend camping trip.

Camping Check List: LARGER THINGS

  • First, you’ll need a good tent: Ours is the Classic Bell Tent from Homecamp, and we really love it. I get a bit claustrophobic in small tents, but this one is spacious enough to stand upright inside, it fits three double mattresses plus a travel cot, and it feels so nice and roomy inside. The seven of us can sleep inside without feeling too squashed. It’s also easy to assemble and folds up into one large bag, which fits easily in the boot of our car. Let’s face it, it’s also the prettiest tent you can buy! : )
  • Mattresses: We have two queen-sized self-inflating mattresses, and we’re really happy with them.  They are easy to inflate (simply unscrew the four ports to allow air inside), comfortable to sleep on, and deflate and roll up easily into a long, round bag.  We usually strap these two mattresses to the top of our car on our roof racks, alongside our surfboards. We also have two single-sized foam mattresses, which roll up easily and fit inside the car (the girls usually sleep on these, side-by-side).
  • Bedding: We always just bring our regular pillows and duvets from home. We have a couple sleeping bags the boys sometimes use, but we’ve found that it’s easy enough to fold up our duvets and re-create our beds inside the tent. I have a stack of old cotton sheets we use for camping, which we put over the mattresses.
  • Camp Stove: Unless you’re camping somewhere with on-site barbecues or fire-pits, a camp stove is a handy thing to have. We only recently bought one, and it’s made things so much easier, quick morning coffees being one of the luxuries. We have this fold-up 2-burner LPG stove, and it’s nice and compact and easy to pack. (For coffee, we just bring our Bialetti stove-top coffee maker and make coffee as we do at home.) Remember you’ll need a gas bottle to hook up to your stove!
  • Camp chairs: We don’t have chairs because we can’t fit them into our car, but we’re always jealous of friends who have theirs.  So it’s not a necessary camp item, but a nice one.
  • Cooler/Ice Box: You’ll need a way to keep all your perishables cool. We try our hardest to plan meals that don’t require too much food from the fridge (pastas, curries, etc.), and we try to bring UHT milk so it doesn’t take up space in the cooler, but you’ll need the cooler for things like cheeses, beer, yoghurt, dips, etc. We have this 57L cooler on wheels, and again this fits into the boot of our car. (The ice only stays frozen inside the cooler for two days, so when camping for longer periods of time, we have to make sure we are not far from a gas station or shop where you can buy more ice.)
  • Lanterns: We have a couple of these battery-operated lanterns. We hang them in our tent at night, use them for trips to the bathroom in the dark, set them on our picnic table at dinner time, etc. They’re so handy to have. Michael also has a headlamp for hands-free lighting.
  • Picnic blankets: We like to create an outside lounge area outside of our tent, so we usually put a couple large blankets outside for the kids to sit and play on (this also keeps them from constantly going in and out of the tent during the day and making a mess of everything). Michael and I received one of these roll-up wool picnic blankets from Pendleton when we got married, and we use it ALL the time. We also love these camp blankets from Homecamp as well (we keep one at the entrance of our tent, to try to keep things neat and tidy inside). These indoor/outdoor rugs are handy too, because you can sweep them to keep them clean.
  • Water: Depending on whether you’re camping somewhere with running water, you might need to bring your own.  The last time we camped, we had no running water, so we needed large bottles of water for drinking, washing dishes, washing hands, etc. It’s good to know what the water situation is before you head off on your camping adventure.
  • Large bucket: A flexible tub (or even two!) is super handy for washing dishes, washing dirty feet, washing hands, etc.
  • Solar Camp Shower: If you’re camping somewhere without showers, this portable solar shower is so handy! Simply fill with water, set in the sun to heat up, hang from a tree, and use whenever you need warm water. Our friends had these the last time we camped, and we were so envious. I’m running out to buy one today for this upcoming weekend.

Camping Check List: SMALLER THINGS

  • Dishes: We have a set of these Falcon enamel ‘deep plates’, and they’re so handy because they can be either bowls (for cereal in the morning) or plates (for lunch/dinner meals). We also have a set of enamel tumblers for drinking water (and wine!).
  • Pots & Pans: We usually bring a big pot for boiling water for pasta, a small sauce pan, our Bialetti coffee maker, and a small fry pan.
  • Utensils: Don’t forget cutlery, knives, a big mixing spoon, a can-opener if necessary, etc.
  • Wooden cutting board: We’ve forgotten this before and regretted it!
  • Dustpan & Broom: Essential for sweeping out the tent.
  • Dish washing liquid and brush: We usually pour some dishwashing liquid into a small jar and bring that along. We also bring a scrub brush.
  • Dish towels: For drying dishes, drying hands, etc.
  • Matches: and newspaper if you’re planning on having campfires
  • Hand soap: For washing hands. We also bring a hand sanitiser too, for easy hand washing.
  • Solar Charger: We’ve had one of these WakaWaka solar chargers since our round-the-world travels, and we still use it all the time. It’s so handy for charging phones, and it’s also a light for bedtime reading, etc.
  • First Aid Kit: We always have one in our car, so we’re never far from it. But it’s definitely a camping essential, especially when camping with kids.


I hope this list is helpful. Please let me know if you have any questions (or camping tips! pease share!).

Courtney x


Comments (10)

January 24, 2019

Love all these camping tips!!! also would love to know what kind of car you have as we have 5 kids too and a Nissan patrol which leaves NO room at all for anything 🤷🏼‍♀️

January 24, 2019

I’ve been camping in a tent for as long as I can remember and still love it so much as a family! I think the best advice for camping with kids is to accept the mess. I always start out with good intentions of keeping things organized and dirt outside the tent. After one day, I just accept that the tent will probably not be clean most of the time, there will most definitely be sand on the mattress (if you’re near the beach especially), and it’s only a matter of time until the dirty laundry mixed with the clean. Don’t stress! Accept it and let your kids be dirty and free and sweaty and sandy. It’s only temporary, enjoy the beauty of nature and it will be the best sleep you’ll have all year. Just dive into adventure! Can’t wait for our next trip.

January 24, 2019

I long to camp somewhere hoping it won’t rain isn’t part of the experience! Camping and surfing for a week in the rain just isn’t the same…

January 26, 2019

What bliss to camp in Australia! Camping in the UK isn’t quite so straightforward, it always rains on us or the tent is full of condensation. I live in hope of a dry and warm camping trip one day!

Courtney in Australia
January 28, 2019

Oh goodness, I totally agree. We’ve done our fair share of camping in the rain (in a camper van, but still!) and it’s just no fun at all. This past weekend we had two days of strong winds, which made everything dusty and dirty. But I’d still prefer wind over rain. x

Annie from Brimful
January 24, 2019

I love that your list includes a broom and dustpan to keep the inside of the tent clean. I think one of the reasons camping has never appealed to me is because I like things very tidy and clean! I’ll refer to this post if I ever get up the guts to camp. 😘❤️

January 25, 2019

Love this! We go camping at least once a year and feel like we’ve figured a lot of the sleeping stuff out but what always stumps me is the meals!! I would love if you shared how you plan your meals 🙂

Mara Esteban
January 25, 2019

love yhis plan with kids, last time we went to the Teide Volcano !

January 31, 2019

Do you find that Wilkie wakes up with the sun? This is what puts me off going camping with my youngest who is 2. The 5am wake ups……ugh!

My husband has been after one of these bell tents for ages and now having seen how lovely they look, maybe we should invest after all!

Spent Christmas in Australia and had a day in Byron Bay! What a beach!

Courtney in Australia
January 31, 2019

Hi Louise,
Thanks for your comment. Yes, those bell tents are amazing. We are so, so happy with ours! Definitely a good investment (especially when you consider how much money you’re saving going camping in the first place! haha!).
We’ve been surprised by how well Wilkie sleeps while camping. Last year, he slept in a cot inside the tent. This year, he just slept in between Michael and me. But both times, he slept pretty well. I think it’s because they get so tired from busy days camping (and possibly go to bed later than usual!), so they end up sleeping quite well.
I’m so glad you enjoyed your time in Byron. It’s a very magical place for sure. 🙂 xx

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