Where to go

This section of camping with kids is about making a good choice for the location of your early camping trips. It doesnt have to be an expensive organised site but it really helps to have some idea of your needs and helpful choices

If you are looking for a camp site a flat site with a play area is a good start. Kids tend to gather at the play area (even if it is rubbish) and then make friends more easily. If the site is flat they can bike or scoot too while a sloping pitch can also mean sleep is less comfy. Younger ones like a bit of tarmac for their bike/scooter but once they are 5 or 6 they can ride happily on gravel tracks and grass. Pitching close to the play area can be a mixed blessing, you might get to keep an eye on things but you might also end up with no peace at all when the play area is full until 10pm every night and your kids can't get to sleep as they can hear their friend still playing. Or worse still bored teenagers (occasionally less than sober adults too) can gather there once the kids are in bed

Stuff like an on-site shop can make life easier, you can always be sure of getting something you forgot or if something breaks. Some (rather rare) sites have a bath or family shower room, which can make things a lot easier than struggling to fit everyone into one shower cubicle. If its only a long weekend then maybe you can cope without bathing them, from bitter experience we can tell you it is not fun for anyone trying to get some kids who dont like showers clean in a campsite shower blockGoing close to home for the first couple of trips can be reassuring. We went with friends the first few times to have some company for us and the kids. We also noticed that the overnight trips didnt work well quite as well as the weekend trips did - if we got their early Friday for a nice pitch and paid til Sunday we seemed to settle into a routine that worked for us, whereas the 1 nighter was all rush rush

If you a very risk averse why not try your first trip in the back garden. The loos are on hand and everyone can get to their own bed if it all goes pear shaped. Think about how quiet it is where you live though, as most sub urban areas are not as quiet as a decent campsite

Another thing some parents (or indeed peace seeking campers in general) like to look for a site with a dedicated warden or that the people who run the site live there during the season. This can be handy if you find yourself or the kids disturbed by others being thoughtless (or plain stupid). Make sure you get the Warden number when you book in and if there is any grief or an emergency happens you know who to ring for some immediate local back up

Many sites have washing machines and tumble dryers these days, which may well find an unexpected use. Having access to a freezer for your cool block and a microwave can help too

How you find the site is down to how you like to do things. Our local library stocks all the main camping guides such as Cades, Alan Rogers, The AA etc. Camping forums (have a look on the links page) are good if you have a specific area in mind. One of my favourite ways of finding sites is with Google Maps, you get the map to the area you are interested in and type "campsite" into the search bar - 'hey presto' lots of campsites appear on the map. You can follow links, zoom into streetview and even see where the pubs are