When it comes to booking

Camping beginners: don’t forget anything before you set off


It’s all organised and paid for, and this year you’re going on a camping holiday. Especially if this is your first time, there’s a risk you might forget something in the excitement of the departure. Here are a few tips for your check-list.

Whether you are spending your holiday in a tent, a caravan, a campervan or rented accommodation, you shouldn’t skimp on equipment. Otherwise, at best you will experience some “moments of solitude” or even worse get fed up with the whole thing, making your stay in the campsite an experience never to be repeated. To make sure this doesn’t happen, follow the guide.

Tent, caravan and campervan

You’ve chosen the tent. To make sure your holiday doesn’t get too… tricky, some things need to be taken into account. All the specialists agree that unless you decide to play it “roots” with minimal equipment or if you’ve planned a holiday on the move (cycling trail or the Way of Saint James), one rule stands out, especially if you are planning to stay onsite throughout your holiday… think big, with four places for two people, for example. There are several reasons for this. First, you’ll need room to keep your things during your stay… it might rain. After two consecutive days of rain stuck in your two-person tent, sombre thoughts won’t be far away. And like for the snow chains for your car tyres, don’t buy your tent on the eve of departure. Set it up and take it down a few times. Imagine what could happen to you late at night in the rain. Practising will help you avoid a few conflicts and annoying experiences that might spoil the start of your holiday. Remember to have a spare tin of sardines and… a mallet. To make life outside more pleasant, invest in some outdoor furniture, tables and folding chairs.

Another essential item for a successful holiday is the bedding. You’ll soon get tired of sleeping on the ground or on a foam gym mat. Use an inflatable or self-inflating mattress. Self-inflating mattresses are made up of foam cavities that are filled with air once they’re unfolded. To make them firmer, you can add air through the valve. Some brands even make inflatable bed bases to put the mattress on. Another solution is a camp-bed. This is an improved version of the old army camp-bed, with a frame that is generally made of aluminium with canvas stretched across it. In the most comfortable models, the canvas is tied to the frame with rubber straps, for more comfort. All that’s left is to get a good sleeping bag (models for two people are available) into which you can slip a special sheet called a sleeping bag liner. The final touch is an inflatable pillow.

The car is almost full, but keep some room for the camping stove, kitchen utensils (a set of saucepans and frying pans), plates and cutlery, glasses, a tin-opener and a corkscrew, bowls for breakfast, a first-aid kit, a pocket lamp and an LED table lamp for the evening, locks, etc. If you decide, after reading all that, that you want to try out the experience of camping, but without investing in all the equipment, then remember that some campsites provide a “camping kit” including all the equipment, from the tent to the tea strainer.

For a caravan or campervan, since everything is already there (bedding, storage space, dishes, camping stove, etc.), you will not necessarily need to add a lot of equipment. But don’t forget an extension cord with the right plug, outdoor furniture and an awning to help create a living area that opens onto the outside. For the campervan, don’t forget to bring a set of wedges for your tyres to keep the vehicle at the right level, whatever the state of the ground.

In rented accommodation, you can (almost) travel light

No need to bring along bedding, outdoor furniture, a camping stove or dishes if you rent a mobile home, a chalet or lodge tent. Everything is already there, all the way down to the teaspoons. This is why, on arrival and before checking out, you’ll need to do an inventory. On the other hand, with the exception of very top-of-the-range rental accommodation (hotel-style services, with beds made on arrival, in particular), you should bring sheets and duvets, towels and household linen along with the rest of your things.

Travel a little lighter

You don’t necessarily need to overdo it. When you book, find out what the campsite has to offer on option. At some campsites, you can hire outdoor furniture, refrigerators, a barbecue, etc. for all your stay. If you’re not a cycling fanatic with a superb bike that you want to bring with you, there’s no need to take your mountain bikes all the way across France. In most cases, you can rent a bike onsite. Another good reason to ask beforehand.


See all my campsites consulted