Festival season is well and truly upon us now, so thought we should resurrect our packing guide, as many of you will be heading off to Camp Bestival next week. As you probably know, we are huge Camp B fans (check out our promo film) and like to go prepared, so here’s a round up of our favourite bits of kit.
My number one festival essential is a bell tent. Yes, they are heavy and yes, you have to make sure they are bone dry before packing them away, but ours literally revolutionised camping for me. No more hunched over, sweaty scrabbling around in a standard tent – bell tents are light, airy, cool, spacious and, above all, fabulous! They also avoid all those arguments about how long its taking to get it pitched as the tent is up in 15 minutes. We have a 5m zipped-in groundsheet from CanvasCamp and it’s ample for a family of four (and Kitty’s multitudinous soft toys) and we love it. My second must-have is an inflatable mattress. We love Coleman airbeds – we have a Coleman Maxi Comfort Raised King, £79.99, which is basically like having a normal bed to sleep on – sooooo comfortable. We take a duvet and pillows as well for that little extra home comfort. This year, we’ve added Bundle Beds to our camping arsenal – total game changers (read about them here), so no more need for mattresses and sleeping bags for the children, but we highly recommend these awesome sleeping bags from Outwell that come with kid-friendly features like a toy pouch, a rainbow-coloured zip that has a carabiner with a mini torch attached and a brilliant carry bag with handles and a zipped pocket for treasures. See also the matching pillows and inflatable sleeping mats.
We like to eat breakfast at camp and sometimes return to cook tea and get changed before venturing out for the evening, so a decent camping table and chairs is a must. We have a Pack-Away Table for Four, £139.99, which features two padded benches that fold to fit inside the table, which has a pleasingly retro design on top and is easy to carry, plus we have super-lightweight Coleman Festival Kickback chairs, £29.99, which offer a little more comfort. For lighting we have our tealight chandelier, solar fairy lights and solar lanterns from Ikea, plus the lanktoo waterproof lantern should make those inevitable middle-of-the-night toilet trips a bit easier and includes a phone charger. Foodwise, we pack a big ‘igloo’ cool box with ice, frozen milk, salad, cheese, veggie sausages (and booze, of course), plus we take lots of wraps, pittas, fruit and snacks. Seriously, you can never take too many snacks to a festival – you’ll find that the children are permanently hungry and if you’re buying snacks every time it’ll cost you a fortune, although ice lollies/ice cream, churros and corn-on-the-cobs are a given!
Once you’ve got your camp set up, you’re ready to venture into the festival itself. And you’ll need something to carry stuff/kids – you can hire trollies, but we always take our own cart. Our trusty Radio Flyer Big Red Wagon has been a mainstay of our festival and camping kit for years, but, now that the children are bigger, we’ve sidelined it in favour of an Outwell Maya Transporter, £149.99. It’s an absolutely brilliant bit of gear – it folds up, making it a breeze to squeeze in an already over-loaded car, large enough to fit two children in (has been declared ‘really comfy’ by Alfie and Kitty), easy to manoeuvre and comes with a cover to keep your stuff dry in case of rain – although, of course, that never happens at UK festies… It also has a nifty carrier for a matching coolbag at the back, so your children won’t be constantly complaining that they don’t have enough room/have something poking into their back. It’s sturdy, too – ours has made light work of a boggy Camp Bestival and hilly Brighton. For a more pocket-friendly trolley, the Trail Outdoor, £79.99, gets great reviews online.
It definitely pays to be prepared for all weathers. We take the brilliantly handy Muddy Puddles Puddlepac waterproof jackets for the children. They fold up small into their own pocket, come in a range of eye-popping prints and, yup, are ACTUALLY WATERPROOF, unlike many similar products on the market, although Frugi’s packaway macs are equally bright and festi-friendly. We wear with GoSoaky rain pants, which come in an array of fab colours and go up to age 14. This year (although we’re obviously hoping we won’t need them), the children are taking Joules Roll Up Wellies to save space – they’re currently on sale as well. Even if the sun is out during the day, it can get mighty cold at night if you’re camping out, so thermal base layers are our sleepwear of choice. We recommend Smalls and Amamaya merino base layers as they will keep your little ones toasty warm, last forever and wash brilliantly, Alfie lives in his when we go camping. We also take hats and cosy socks.
Of course, everyone hopes that it’ll be sun, sun, sun all the way, but even fine weather brings its problems. Sunhats, suncream, sunglasses and water bottles are a must as festival sites are usually pretty exposed, with little shade. If you’re in the market for a super-cool (literally) hat, look no further than Little Hotdog Watson, whose quirky designs offer great coverage with wide brims and neck flaps (that can be rolled up), plus UPF50+ protection, mozzie repellent and clever cooling fabric to stop little heads overheating. Since last summer, the whole family has used Altruist SPF50 sunscreen, which manages not to irritate any of our sensitive skins, while providing excellent protection. For children’s sunglasses, check out Monkey Monkey, Zoobug and Izi Pizi. We’ve tried lots of different water bottles, with varying degrees of success, but this year we’ll be taking our Chilly’s bottles – because they are the only ones I’ve found reliably don’t leak all over the contents of my bag and they keep everything cool,
Ear defenders are essential for children at festivals – even if you’re not thinking of venturing down to the front of the main stage, they’ll come in handy if your children want to sleep in the evening while you enjoy the entertainment on offer. Alfie and Kitty have Muffy ear defenders from Alpine Hearing Protection, £19.95, which have funky stripes on the headbands and block out a lot of noise (although be prepared for your child to ignore you asking them to do stuff more than usual!). They also do special baby defenders and even children’s earplugs if your child doesn’t like the feeling of headbands. We always take a first aid kit (just in case) of plasters, antiseptic, Calpol melts, rehydration sachets, antihistamines and bite and burn relief, although, fortunately, we have rarely needed anything more than a plaster and there are always medics on site in case of emergencies. The LittleLife Family First Aid Kit, £19.99, is pretty comprehensive and even contains star stickers to be awarded for being brave. This year, I’m abandoning the wet wipes in favour of these reusable Bambaw eco alternatives. A bottle of hand sanitiser is always a good idea as the dispensers in the loos usually run out – I like the Bentley Organic one, £2.99, as it’s not too harsh on the skin. Losing sight of your child at a festival is every parent’s worst nightmare, and although most festivals provide Tyvek wristbands to write your number on, many children don’t like the feeling of them, so it’s a good idea to have a back up. LittleLife have ID bracelets in a variety of designs for £3.99, Kattoo tattoos, £5.99, are a simple solution, and Claire and I created our Bambino Goodies lost children badges, £5 for four, because what child doesn’t love a badge? We’ll customise with your phone number and you can pin to every layer of your small person’s clothing. Glowsticks have been popular for children at night, so they’re easier to see, but as everyone’s trying to avoid plastic waste, we bought these USB rechargeable LED wristbands last year which we’ll be charging and taking again. Mini torches on a lanyard would also work well as an eco alternative. I take my little Anker Power Bank with me in case I need to top anything up.
Probably the most important thing to take to a festival with kids is a whole lot of dressing up gear. This year’s Camp Bestival theme is Heroes v Superheroes, so there’s plenty of scope there. Alfie’s current plan is to go as his hero The Doctor (Dr Who) and Kitty as Batgirl in a black catsuit and her cape and mask. We also like to sport as many sparkly, shiny, fabulous accessories as possible for the rest of the weekend – it detracts from the dirt, after all! Kitty will be packing her For Just One Day mermaid tail, Mimi & Lula sequin mouse ears, Sarah’s Silks rainbow fairy wings and both children will be taking their Tell Tails tails and will probably be in them for most of the festival. I’ll also be packing my Rosa Bloom cape (although I’ve currently got my eye on a Sarah Baily rainbow tassel one) and a flower crown – excellent for covering up those greasy roots, plus we’ll all be wearing biodegradable Dust & Dance glitter. And, just in case of rain or over-tired children in need of tent time, colouring books, pens and a couple of games are a good idea – Dobble, Yahtzee, Monopoly Deal, Top Trumps, Exploding Kittens and Uno are our go-tos.
And that’s it! Have we missed anything? Have you got any tips? Let us know in the comments or over on Facebook or Insta.