Summer has finally arrived, the school holidays are fast approaching and it’s time to start plotting the annual family summer getaway. So what could possibly be better than embarking on a fun-filled family camping adventure?
That wasn’t a trick question. Not only is camping great for family bonding, but it also enables you to explore some of the most beautiful parts of the UK and beyond. From the vast wilderness of the Scottish Highlands to the varied landscapes of continental Europe, there’s no limit to where you can pitch up your tent and embrace the great outdoors.
Book a van hire and load it up with all your camping gear before heading off on your own family adventure with Europcar’s guide to camping in the UK and Europe.
The New Forest
The New Forest in Hampshire is a 150 square mile haven for nature lovers, all within a two hour drive of South London. The Roundhill Campsite, sandwiched between Brockenhurst and the delightfully quaint Beaulieu village, is a particularly popular spot thanks to its flat grassy fields, pine trees and variety of wildlife.
The New Forest is renowned for its wild horses, donkeys and ponies, all of whom like nothing better than holding up traffic along the narrow country lanes (so patience is of the essence). Nearby attractions include Beaulieu National Motor Museum, which features a fantastic collection of over 250 automobiles, telling the story of Britain’s motoring past. The area is also ideal for cyclists, with endless paths criss-crossing throughout the forest.
Pick up a car or van hire in Southampton and enjoy easy access to the 150 square miles of the New Forest.
It’s no secret that the Scottish Highlands offer some of the most stunning scenery in the UK (and indeed Europe), but it’s not all dramatic mountain ranges and rugged valleys. You’ll find plenty of flat embankments and fields in which to pitch a tent, start up a fire and roast a marshmallow or two. In contrast to the fairly strict trespassing laws in England, campers in Scotland are more or less free to camp where they like, so spread your wings and go exploring. If you prefer the convenience of a camping ground however, look no further than the Caolasnacon Caravan & Campsite.
Set on the banks of the idyllic Loch Leven, this site allows you to pitch up right next to the water and enjoy sitting back with an open fire as you look down into the spectacular valley below.
Camping on the continent
Fancy taking your outdoor adventures further afield? Camping is also a cracking way of discovering various parts of Europe, and with cheap flights and ferries readily available, it doesn’t have to break the budget either. A quick hop over the channel to France is a great starting point and offers easy road access to the rest of Europe.
Kick off in style with a visit to the five star Les Alicourts Resort in the Loire region of central France. This hugely popular campsite has its own lake, complete with canoes, pedaloes and swimming areas. There’s also a sizeable water park boasting water slides and play areas, as well as crazy golf courses, skate parks and football pitches. It’s just a two hour drive south of Paris, so if you’re flying into the capital then pre-book your Paris car hire and enjoy a hassle-free road trip into the countryside.
Before you set off…
- Aside from essentials such as tents and clothing, one of the first items you should look to bring is a ground mat or two for your van hire. Place this down before you start loading up and you’ll keep the van nice and clean, saving you the hassle of a wash down later on.
- Quality sleeping bags are also essential, as we all know how unpredictable British summers can be. Most sleeping bags should have labels indicating what temperature ranges they are suitable for, so aim for one that will keep you warm at temperatures of around 10 degrees Celsius – those summer nights can get quite chilly after all.
- Airbeds are also a good way of staying comfortable at night and it’s always smart to keep a torch handy in the event of a midnight trip to the loo. Fold up chairs and tables, cooking utensils and hand sanitizers are also essential and can be picked up fairly cheaply in supermarkets.
- Finally, don’t forget that all important insect repellent – particularly if you’re heading into the Scottish highlands where the Highland Midge can prove to be particular menace. Smoke from barbeques or open fires has also been known to deter insects, so bring plenty of fire starters and keep that fire going.
Think outside the box
- A little creativity can go a long way to making your camping life that little bit easier. When it comes to putting your tent up it’s a good idea to purchase some cheap plastic dust sheets from a DIY shop. Place them down on the ground and construct your tent on top, this way the underside will remain dry and clean after use. Similarly, plastic shower curtains can serve as both table cloths and ground mats and cost a fraction of the price.
- Concerned about the amount of space pillows take up in the car? Fear not – simply fill your empty sleeping bag cases with some of your clothes and voila – comfy pillows all around.
If you’re in need of extra inspiration then check out these images for top advice on everything from food preparation to DIY storage options.
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