Yeah so reality has hit us these last couple months, we need to actually start investing money in to our house and put our savings to something else other than our travels.
We have always been very smart and careful with our money, it has enabled us to go and see the world. We brought a smaller house so that our monthly bills were much smaller, we don’t believe on spending our money on possessions but to put our savings in to making memories with each other. However, it’s not always that simple. Real life happens and shit needs to be paid for. Luckily we have no debt, so all our money is ours. We have invested small amounts in to our property over the years but we have decide this will be our forever home, to ensure it stays our forever home, forever, we need a loft conversion. Which is a huge expense. Unfortunately this means our amazing adventures abroad will have to be put on hold for a couple years. We are so used to spending our evenings looking for our next destination to visit that we found ourselves lost. It didn’t feel right, we had to come up an alternative. A more budget way of doing an adventure. We have always spoke about exploring Europe, but the plan was to wait until the children were a little older and to caravan/motor home it around Europe. We couldn’t afford to do it however we figured we could tent it, what an amazing experience this could be for the kids we thought. This would be it, this was our gateway to explore the world on a budget.
We took a trip to our local camping store Go Outdoors, they had everything we could possibly need, also their huge show room with all the tents up gave us a real feel for each one. It’s not ideal getting a tent online if you have no previous experience with tents, the one I was prepared to purchase online was pretty crappy when seeing it in person! The customer service we received in Go Outdoors was just fantastic, we couldn’t of asked for anything better, he took us through all the pros and cons of each and every tent right down to the sleeping bags. We finally had all the essentials we’d need to camp after spending a couple hours in the store. I will be doing another blog to let you know all the basic equipment you need, there is so much that you could buy, but you only really need the essentials. The fact that all this cost us less than it would for just one of our flights to, pretty much anywhere and we were now able to pack up the car and go where ever we wanted was an amazing feeling.
So we now had all the gear and no idea. Literally. We’d both camped as kids but this didn’t give us any help with how we’d do it with our own kids! We need a trial trip, something not to far so that we could run for the hills as soon as shit hit the fan. Luckily living on the south coast of England we were blessed with the amount of places we could go. We decided we’d head to the Isle of Wight, it was due to be good weather and it was a cool adventure for the kids to be able to go on the Wightlink car ferry. (Which by the way was brilliant for kids, they had their own soft play for the little ones and a teenage room for the older kiddies to watch a film). So we arrived, we were excited and nervous. It was pretty obvious that I had more of an idea than Stu on setting up the tent but it was still pretty awful, I think we had the whole camp site laughing at us. “Yeah that’s great guys, just stand there, we’ve got this!”. It turns out the first plot I pegged the tent down on a slop – we soon realised this wasn’t ideal. So after unloading EVERYTHING. We decided to move plots completely, up the hill. So along with two kids and two dogs we managed that. In the next plot we then moved the tent a total of 3 times after we had pegged the base down, you want to be happy right?! 🤣 we got there in the end. We were all happy.
I am going to have to give a little basic tip list aren’t I?, I’ll do that at the end.
Night 1 – Phoenix went to sleep perfectly. Indiana stayed up a little late to see the stars and chat with us about her day and then went off to sleep perfectly, she was so excited to be sleeping in the tent. The problem came when we needed to get to sleep. We had decided Phoenix and myself would be in the double sleeping bag and Stu and Indiana would be in the children’s single sleeping bags. Turns out an adult isn’t suitable for a children’s sleeping bag – funny that. He was FREEZING – I was just telling him to get over it and go to sleep (I mean I was warm, I didn’t understand the issue haha). On top of that there was a huge party of lads close by that were having a a great time, I honestly felt like I was part of the party it was so loud. Oh and not to forget the couple who were 100% enjoying some sort of drug and having a very intense conversation about going on Xfactor – I’m going to level with you, I personally heard a lot of their songs, I mean I know I’m not Simon cowell but I don’t feel she’s at the xfactor level maybe not even karaoke level – however she did say her voice had weakened after having two kids so that’s fair enough.
(He was smiling before he realised how much he hated it haha)
Okay so the first night was pretty crappy. By 1am stu was thinking up how he could keep the kids asleep whilst he packed the tent up and went home. There were a lot of swearing and just negative attitude – mainly from Stu. I was starting to think our grand plan wasn’t turning out to be too great. The morning came, all was good. We all had a nice shower, Stu especially enjoyed showering in the communal showing block next to a guy having a big poo!
Night 2 – we were more prepared. We brought another double mattress for stu, ear plugs, socks and a blanket. We were going to do this, no problem. Then we spot a new arrival. Right next to us. It was a lovely lovely group of uni students. Perfect, just a quiet evening of study group under the stars? No no no, it was a massive piss up for them all. Great. We had to make the decision, do we risk it or do we move plots, again. We asked another family close by if they’d be able to help us to which they very kindly did. We all picked up the tent with everything still in it and moved it over to the far end of the site where no one was. We were 100% the entertainment for the evening. This was a lovely night actually, once we were settled, Phoenix went to sleep, Stu and Indiana watched the sunset whilst throwing the ball to each other (she had just learnt this new skill, woo). Then we all went to bed. Perfect, silence and warmth. It was great. Then stu was hit with the shits and the walk to and from the toilet block wasn’t exactly close now that we had moved further away. The dogs also found some animal – probably rabbits and decided to run the other side of the field for them (I had no idea, I was sleeping peacefully). Stu just had an unfortunate amount of bad luck. We had to laugh. I still didn’t enjoy the idea of camping.
Night 3 – went perfect. We all slept brilliantly. Couldn’t of asked for anything better.
Okay so it really didn’t go smoothly during the night overall. But that’s what the trip was for, to learn from it and to figure out what not to do. Overall the positives outweighed the negatives, sometimes things don’t have to go perfectly to make memories, and those will now be stories we will talk about each time we camp. We can’t wait for our next adventure camping that’s for sure!
One thing we didn’t buy was a hob/grill to be able to cook food. It was a large expense on top of everything and this trip was also a test to see if we really needed it. And no, we didn’t think it was essential. We had a cool box with milk in and we had cereals each morning. I think next time we will have a few throw away BBQs to use, which will also save us money eating out. But we had fish and chips by the seaside one night, food in a beautiful pub another night so I mean, It was nice to get out too. I guess you’ll have to try it yourself and see how you get on without it first.
I think I’ve kinda rambled on a bit but we’ve certainly learnt a lot from our tester trip and I hope this helps someone – anyone and maybe even inspires a family to begin their adventure! We are total beginners and it’s totally doable which is the most important thing! I’ve included a few tips below which I think could prevent some silly mistakes we made along the way.
* When choosing your plot find one away from everyone, usually this is the furthest point from the shower/toilet blocks but this is so worth it.
* Choose a nice flat plot, no one wants to sleep on a hill.
* Make sure the door of your tent is facing the right way and there is enough room for your car to fit in too!
* I personally think a double sleeping bag for one adult is better than a single, although the double was perfect for mum and baby.
* Get an extra blanket incase the temp drops in the night (we didn’t need it in the end but was good to have)
* Bring a ball, colouring books – these were great to pass time in the evenings.
* Prepare for any possible events during the night – shoes by the door, dog leads by the door. Just things you may need in the night if you have to leave the tent.
* Bring clothes for all weathers – you never know. Especially for the kids.
* If you’ve got the money, get a hotel 🤣 joking…not joking.
I hope you’ve found this useful, I will be doing some more blogs on the Isle of Wight too as we had the most amazing time there!
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