Many of you will be heading off to Camp Bestival next week (sadly, we have other commitments and can’t make it this year) – 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 double-height king size one, 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. A few years ago, we 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 if you already have kids’ mattresses, I highly recommend these awesome organic cotton animal sleeping bags from Anorak, currently on offer. Kitty just took her panda one on her school residential.
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 Kickback chairs, £14.39, which offer a little more comfort. For lighting we have our tealight chandelier, solar fairy lights and solar lanterns from Ikea, plus the kids have these super cute Smile lanterns from Urban Outfitters, great for those inevitable middle-of-the-night toilet trips. Foodwise, we pack our 70-litre Coleman 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 a Trail beach trolley, which folds, so is a bit easier to squeeze in to an already over-loaded car, large enough to fit two children in (has been declared ‘really comfy’ by Alfie and Kitty) and easy to manoeuvre with sturdy, deep-tread wheels that will tackle even the muddiest festival.
It definitely pays to be prepared for all weathers. We take the brilliantly handy Muddy Puddles Eco Light waterproof jackets for the children. They fold up small into their own pocket, come in a range of festi-friendly eye-popping prints and, yup, are ACTUALLY WATERPROOF, unlike many similar products on the market. Wear with GoSoaky rain pants, which come in an array of fab colours and go up to age 14. Although I’m sure it’ll stay dry this year (everything crossed), we take Joules Roll Up Wellies to save space – they’re currently on sale and this star design is perfect for a festival. 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 merino base layers as they will keep your little ones toasty warm, last forever and wash brilliantly, but also love Muddy Puddles colourful long johns and tops. We also take hats and cosy socks.
Of course, everyone hopes that it’ll be sun, sun, sun all the way, but fine weather brings its own 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. For several years now, the whole family has used the fantastic Altruist SPF50 sunscreen, which manages not to irritate any of our sensitive skins, while providing excellent protection. For children’s sunglasses, check out Bird, Zoobug and Izi Pizi. We’ve tried lots of different water bottles, with varying degrees of success, but always go back to 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 in-ear plugs if your child doesn’t like the feeling of headbands and Ems4Bubs do special baby ear defenders with soft 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 Mini Family First Aid Kit, £17.99, is pretty comprehensive and even contains star stickers to be awarded for being brave. Wet wipes are always handy at festivals: these Cheeky Panda bamboo wipes are good for sensitive skins and biodegradable.
A bottle of hand sanitiser is a good idea (the dispensers in the loos usually run out). My favourite is A.S. Apothecary’s Rosemary & Mint, £5.25, but most festival sites are glass free, so I usually pack Neal’s Yard hand rub, £2.77, 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 or, even simpler, a mobile number Sharpied on an arm! Glowsticks have been popular for children at night, so they’re easier to see, but obviously horrific single-use plastic, so we invested in these USB rechargeable LED wristbands last time. Mini torches on a lanyard would also work well as an eco alternative. I take my brilliant 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 Desert Island Disco, so there’s plenty of scope for creativity there. 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 always packs her For Just One Day mermaid tail, Mimi & Lula star headdress, Sarah’s Silks rainbow fairy wings and both children wear their Tell Tails tails for most of the festival. I love my Rosa Bloom and Let Us Pretend capes (although I’ve got my eye on a Sarah Baily leather 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, Sushi Go, Uno and Organ Attack 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.