Don’t let the colder weather put you off camping. There are so many benefits to a family camping trip in the winter months. Getting the kids outdoors and back to nature is great to burn off excess energy plus a change of scenery can help stave off the winter blues. Lastly, it’s a great way to social distance with your family.
If the idea of winter camping still has you conjuring up images of wet, soggy gear and kids complaining that they’re cold, some thoughtful planning and the following tips might help turn camping in the cooler months into your family’s new favourite activity.
Check the weather
While weather reports are not always reliable, it’s a good idea to check ahead to ensure there are not any out-of-the-ordinary weather patterns on the horizon. Keep optimistic, but if it looks like rain or storms are imminent, you might be better off rescheduling your camping trip.
Stay close to home
If the weather turns miserable while you’re away and becomes unbearable, you’ll be able to be packed up and back home within a couple of hours. Check out our list of 50+ Camping, Caravan & Holiday Parks to stay within a 3-hour drive of Newcastle.
Check road conditions
Excess traffic, rain and snow can all affect road conditions. Plan ahead to ensure that the roads you’ll be travelling on are all open and in a safe condition.
Plan ahead for a campfire
One of the best things about camping in winter is sitting around a nice big campfire with friends and family. Research whether campfires are permitted at your destination and if you’ll need to bring your own firewood and firepit. Ensure you’ll have enough firewood and follow all guidelines and safety precautions with regards to campfires.
Don’t forget your furbabies
Make it a real family trip by choosing a location that allows dogs. Check out our list of dog-friendly camping spots within a three-hour drive of Newcastle.
Don’t forget the thermals
Invest in at least one set of thermals for every member of your family. Nothing compares to thermal underwear (tops, long pants, socks) for keeping you warm on cold days and nights. Stock up in the post-winter sales on good quality gear and it should last you for at least a couple of years.
Take extra clothes
Everyone, especially kids, are more likely to get wet, muddy and cold in winter. If you’re camping for two nights, pack three or four sets of clothes plus extra socks and undies.
Pack a pair for every member of the family. You won’t regret it.
I like to layer myself and the kids up in the morning when it’s cold and then it’s easy just to take layers off as the day warms up. Think singlets, thermals, vests, jackets, scarves and beanies.
Ensure you pack sensible bedding
It’s no fun being cold through the night. Low and subzero temperatures require adequate bedding. Check that your sleeping bag has an efficient temperature rating to suit colder temperatures. I always pack extra blankets for above and below the sleeping bag for added warmth if required. Sleeping bag liners are also an option.
Plan some warm winter meals
Hearty stews in the camp oven and warm drinks are synonymous with winter camping. Warm up by wrapping your hands around a steaming cup of tea or hot chocolate. Most kids love Cup of Soups and they’re easy to pack and make up. Pancakes or French toast sticks on a BBQ plate are other winter favourites.
Go to bed warm
Getting into a sleeping bag cold is a recipe for disaster, a sure fire way to wake up cold. Before retiring for the night ensure that everyone has fresh, dry clothes on, either pyjamas or their clothes for the next day (wet or sweaty clothes will keep you cold). Raise body temperatures by encouraging the kids to do a brisk walk or a few star jumps before going to bed and pack a hot water bottle for everyone to take to bed.
Don’t let washing drag you down
Take some large garbage bags or a washing basket as a central place to dump any dirty, wet or muddy clothing. If I’m staying in a holiday park with washing machines and dryers, I like to wash and dry it all on the last day, before leaving. It costs a little extra (you’ll need to take coins for the machines) but it’s one less thing I have to do when I get home.
Consider other options
If camping in a tent in winter still doesn’t sound appealing or you don’t have access to a camper or van, there’s always the option of staying in a cabin at a holiday park or a secluded Airbnb. You’ll get the same camping experiences throughout the day but will have the extra comfort of a hot shower and heater at night.
Remember your sense of adventure
Kids will remember the fun times they had in the great outdoors long after the wet feet, muddy clothes and dropped marshmallows have been forgotten. Real change happens outside of comfort zones, so pack a big sense of adventure and embrace the challenge of winter camping. At the very least, you’ll make some exciting family memories to look back on.
Meg is a born and raised Novocastrian whose interests include gardening, reading and writing poetry. In between writing for Newy With Kids and working casually as a School Learning Support Officer, Meg enjoys camping and travelling with her family and exploring Newcastle and all it has to offer. Meg has two energetic kids and is passionate about kids having the opportunity to be outdoors as often as possible.