We always self cater when we go away as a family and packing can be a nightmare. I have got it off to a fine art now, whether we are going camping or sailing, and the best lesson I have learnt is to give myself enough time to be organised (if I’m allowed, sometimes we just take off with 5 minutes notice and I just have to go with it!).
1. The 7 Bs. This is my list system and I have been running it since they were babies. I divide a piece of A4 into seven columns each headed with a B.
- BUM: This is now limited to toilet roll but used to include nappies, wipes, fold up changing mat, nappy rash cream etc.
- BED: This includes bedding, teddies, pyjamas, hot water bottles etc.
- BUNGALOW: This refers to the tent itself and includes the tent and all its bits and pieces (groundsheets, poles etc), the camp kitchen (cooker and gas, lighter, crockery, cutlery, pots and pans, knives, washing up stuff, tin and bottle openers, masher, wooden spoons etc), the camp sitting room (folding tables and chairs, rugs for sprawling on etc).
- BATH: All the stuff for showering, teeth cleaning etc.
- BODY: Clothes, wet suits, coats, shoes, hats.
- BELLY: Food for the first night and breakfast the next morning plus the essential ingredients box (see below). I tend to pack veggie sausages,potatoes for mashing and baked beans for the first night because it’s easy, everyone eats it and it fills them up. I also put in supper stuff like cup-a-soup and noodles for teens who get the munchies later on and a packet of posh crisps, gin and tonic in tins and a bottle of wine for me and Mr TS because by the time the tent is up, they are fed and a-bed…WE DESERVE IT!
- BRAIN: Things to keep us busy whatever the weather. Stories and cards, playdough, pens and paper, toy cars, puzzles, bodyboards, frisbee, football, badminton racquets and shuttlecocks, buckets and spades, my knitting, my notebooks and pens etc.
2. Camp Kitchen, the essentials. This is a plastic box with a lid which doubles as storage and a food prep area and helps keep everything tidy (essential with 6 people in such a confined space!). It contains what I consider to be the basics needed to cook good food. Inside you will find; tamari soy sauce, Marigold vegetable bouillon powder, a black pepper grinder, dried Italian/Mediterranean herbs, sweet chilli sauce, good raspberry jam (homemade if we’ve got any left!), honey, Marmite and Vegemite, good olive oil, sunflower oil, sun-dried tomato and chilli paste and tea.
3. I empty all the laundry baskets, wash everything and put it all away so that I can then go to each bedroom with a bag and pack the clothes which are needed without going hunting.
4. I put clean sheets on the beds, empty the bins and the fruit bowl and throw away cut flowers, check there is nothing in the fridge which will go off and put loo cleaner down the toilets (just before we leave). When we get home from camping or sailing home is a very welcoming and comforting place to return to!
5. I pack a car bag which contains drinks and snacks for the journey, a picnic if we’re travelling over a meal time, story CDs and Lynn Gordon’s 52 Fun Things To Do In The Car.
This time I have also packed a copy of Annie Bell’s new book The Camping Cookbook which I will review on here when I get back!
By the time you read this we will be there, set up and hopefully really in the swing of things! I hope you find this (obviously not exhaustive) list useful. I adapt it slightly when we book a cottage and it has extras on it like ‘survival kit’ and ‘life jackets and lines’ if we are sailing! I am rushing to get this on the blog and ready to go before we leave, when I get back I will pop a link in to my list in its entirety if anyone thinks that would be useful.
Have you got any self catering tips? Anything which ensures your holiday is a holiday rather than an endurance test?