Pre-Jack, summer meant one thing: festivals. Starting with Isle of Wight (I never did get Glasto tickets) and ending with Bestival, almost every weekend had some sort of live music and alfresco drinking element. So, it was inevitable that Jack’s festival days wouldn’t wait until his teenage years. Last year we camped at Curious Arts Festival, which is the perfect first festival with kids in tow if you’ve never done it before – it’s small but perfectly formed, with camping and entertainment all in one field (although it has relocated for 2019). Jack was officially hooked. If the novelty of sleeping in a tent isn’t enough to please, add in the space to run wild, wall to wall food options, an excuse to stay up late and some decent family-friendly entertainment and you’ve got the stuff of childhood dreams.
This year we’re upsizing our festival experience to Camp Bestival, which is basically the Glastonbury of kid-friendly festivals. We were there last year for a day, but rain stopped play so our weekend was cut short. While it’s just Jack and I heading down, we’re camping with fellow single mum friend Zoe (SHOUT OUT) & her two and on top of that we’re hooking up with the FROLO group so the single parent invasion should be strong. Joining in the fun and wondering what to pack? To fail to prepare is to prepare for failure, and if you don’t want the weekend marred with moaning toddlers and midnight loo runs in the dark, there are several things you don’t want to forget…
What to Pack for Camp Bestival
No matter how hot the weeks running up to the festival are, the nights will be cold. Along with your sleeping bags, make sure you have several warm jumpers for both you and your little ones, along with hats and gloves, just in case. If you’re planning on staying out late they’ll need to wrap up warm, especially if it rains.
Speaking of rain, it is bound to. Not only will you be needing wellies, you’ll want waterproof coats for all the family plus a decent rain cover for your buggy or wagon. Nothing ruins a festival quite like soggy socks.
Did you notice the W word? If you splash out on one piece of kit for your weekend adventure, make it a wagon. Not only will it make transporting your gear to and from the car easier, it will double for a buggy / portable bed for tired legs throughout the weekend. You might think you can stand giving your tired toddler the odd piggy back when they wain, but after three days of sleeping outside you’ll be so grateful for a set of wheels, which will double as a portable bed if you want to stay a little later in the evenings while they snooze alongside you.
Whether it’s a bog in a bag or a Travel John, anything that will save a 1am, 3am, 5am loo break is worth it. These tent-friendly travel options are less gross than you’d imagine and don’t take up much packing space. With only one set of hands there’s no ‘taking it in turns’ – loo runs are all on you.
It can all get a bit much for small ears after a long day of music, crowds and excitement – make sure you have ear defenders on hand to help your little ones find peace, whether they’re in the middle of the headline set or curled up in your tent in a noisy camping field. On that note, earplugs for yourself aren’t the worst idea…
I won’t waste time telling you to suck eggs, but bin bags, wet wipes (there are decent biodegradable options now available for both), loo roll, sunscreen and hand sanitiser are all essentials for any camping trip. Bin bags in particular double as ponchos, rain covers and storage units when it all gets a bit messy. And make sure you have Calpol. Always.
You’ll be wanting a torch to navigate your way around the campsite late at night, plus a couple of lights to hang in your tent at the very least. Lights for your festival wagon are also an idea to help your little one feel safe and help them stay close if they’re out and about once it starts getting dark.
Yes, yes, you’re at a festival with endless entertainment options. But you or your little one might want a timeout at some point. If your child crashes and you decide to take them back to the tent by 8pm you might appreciate a couple of episodes of Killing Eve to catch up on rather than trying to read by torchlight. Equally, if your overtired child won’t settle, half an hour of Peppa Pig should chill them out while they wind down, especially if you plug them in to headphones to block out the excitement of the festival.
Yes, there will be a plethora of delicious food options available. But yes, the queues will be long. Last year I spent over 20 minutes queueing for Annie Mae’s Mac & Cheese. Worth it, in my opinion, but Jack doesn’t have my macaroni-patience and needed a couple of snack bars to keep his hanger at bay. Fruit or nut snack bars, apples, crackers and cereal are all good portable options. There’s nothing worse than a hangry toddler, FACT. You should also have at least one large drink bottle full of water at any given time. Running around in the sun is thirsty work.
Whether it’s a little box of lego, a few teddies, a new magazine or some activity sheets, pack a few toys for your child to take with them. A couple for comfort (a teddy or a figure that they love but won’t be devasted if it gets lost or that is easily replaceable) and a couple of new bits that will keep them busy if you’re queuing or waiting for an act to start.
The Bare Minimum Checklist:
- Clothes (inc warm jumpers, waterproofs and comfy shoes)
- Tent lights
- Portable charger
- Large bottle for water
- Camping chairs
- Sleeping mats
- Sleeping bags
- Tent (duh)
- Camping chairs
- Spare pegs
- Picnic blanket
- Soft toys