Heading to Camp Bestival this weekend (or another upcoming family festival)? Maybe you’re an early bird, smugly packed and already on the road to the family festival of the summer. Or perhaps you’re a deadline surfer like me, leaving everything to the last possible second.
Even though I haven’t so much as lifted a finger towards packing yet, I have been planning (in my head) and scanning some brilliant packing lists by My Two Mums, Penny at A Residence, Mum on the Brink and Love, Life and Pixels.
Some of these lists are especially helpful if you’re going to Camp Bestival by car or camper van or if you have a large tent/camp space. My only festival experiences so far have involved going as the solo adult with two children and taking the train up — so my motto is ‘pack light, think ahead’.
Here are some Family Festival Essentials that I simply couldn’t do without:
Tent and Sleeping Kit
For my first visit to Camp Bestival we bought a Vango Pop Up Tent which was great for a festival virgin like myself as it pitches in literally 2 minutes and provides a snug but secure sleeping space. Most importantly, it’s really light to carry on your back. We also bought a combined Airbed/Sleeping Bag from Argos that’s comfy enough (until it starts deflating) but together with the pump and batteries took up much of the space and weight in our wheelie suitcase.
This year we’re very excited to be trying the Tangerine Fields** at Camp Bestival. This is a pre-booked service where you choose your package and arrive to find your tent and (if you’ve ordered it) sleeping equipment already set up for your enjoyment. Talk about stress-free camping! It costs a fair bit but hey, what price peace of mind? Especially if you’re travelling alone with tots.
Emergency Toilet Kit
Festival loos. I repeat, festival loos. We’re told Tangerine Fields have their own private loos and we’re also pleased to hear about When Nature Calls at Camp Bestival, that provides regularly cleaned and flushable toilets with loo roll and hand wash. But it’s always good to have back-up.
Our first camping trip we took the Bog in a Bag which worked fine for the kids although we couldn’t fit it in our tent, so I never used it. Read my Bog in a Bag review. This year I’m experimenting with the SheWee Extreme portable urinal device (sexy!) so I’ll let you know how that goes.
I was actually looking for the unisex Travel John particularly for the boys as I think it sounds ingenious and I’m sure would come in handy for long car trips too. I might go with a suggestion I read somewhere to use an old laundry detergent bottle as an emergency (middle of the night) pee pot.
NB: I will also take a pack of Pyjama Pants for both boys — although they’re long since potty trained I discovered to my misery at Just So Festival last year that you can never be too careful when camping!
If you’re finicky like us, you might also want to take disposable toilet seat covers (less than a fiver from most shops), toilet seat wipes and DO NOT FORGET hand sanitiser.
Baby wipes are a gift from heaven and they really come into their own at festivals. You can wash *everything* with them. Tangerine Fields has its own private showers but this year I’m also taking Muc Off Dry Shower mousse which has rave reviews on Amazon and smells really nice.
While browsing I came across these cute mini towels that on closer inspection were basically microfibre cloths. I can pick up 3 of those for a quid at the local supermarket and save on big bulky towels for drying off. Sorted.
Have you not seen footage from Glastonbury? UK festivals tend to equal rain, although we were blessed with gorgeous sunshine for most of Camp Bestival 2012. Still I did have that moment of wandering about searching for an emergency poncho. I will definitely be packing emergency ponchos along with a hat with brim (baseball hats work) for extra cover.
And why would you go to any festival without wellies? I still live in my Crocs wellies that made their debut on my first camping trip.
I’ve already blogged an extensive Festival Food Packing List for inspiration, but if I had to trim it down to bare essentials I will not leave for Camp Bestival without taking Bread, at least 2 types of sandwich filler (Tuna/mayonnaise & Peanut Butter/jam), Cereal Bars, Crisps, Lollies and a bag of hard fruit (apples most likely). And don’t forget water bottles to fill up at festival taps.
I would also heartily recommend taking a picnic blanket. The lovely folk from the Piriton Sneeze Free Garden at Camp Bestival gifted us with a fantastic picnic hamper. It’s a bit bulky for us to take by train, but I’ll certainly take the picnic rug that comes with waterproof backing. Thanks Piriton!
The thing that drove me most crazy at my first family festival was running out of juice on my iPhone when I wanted to snap one more photo, film another quick video clip, or get in touch with my hubby far away in London town. You’ll find charging stations at most festivals but you will have to queue and also pay (at Just So Festival they were a very reasonable £1 for 2 hour charge though).
I’ve been sent a Braven BRV-Bank*** to review and not only does this provide back-up charging for both iPhone 5 and Android devices like Kindle Fire but it’s water-resistant and comes with a USB torch! Looking forward to testing it out and I shall report back.
Whether it’s for the train journey there or just ambling around the festival site, it’s essential for the kids to carry their own kit. I make sure their backpacks contain a water bottle, snack for the day, small toy (although I’ll bet they cram at least 2 of their wrestlers in there), glow sticks (also helps to see in the dark), Banz Ear Defenders (for louder concerts and fireworks) or basic ear plugs if you can’t get those and mini bubble blowers. Because, well, bubbles!
Ezra’s informed me he’s also packing 2 books to read on the journey there and back. Well done, mini word nerd.
Nightwear for all including two pairs of pyjamas for the babes (in case of accidents), 3 x tshirts and 2 x shorts for each boy, 3 x long tops and 2 x trousers (it gets colder in the evenings), 3 x fleece tops for all, undies for all. For myself, a couple of pretty tops, cut-offs and jeans, undies, head scarves (won’t have time to be fussing with my hair), cardigan and super lightweight mac. Plus aforementioned wellies, trainers and sandals/flip flops (I’m regretting not having any crocs/sandals for the boys but they’ll be in trainers mostly).
And costumes: this year’s theme is CIRCUS, so I might just take a crazy clown wig, silly glasses and some face paint. Jed doesn’t do festivals without some kind of superhero outfit!
Phew. The mere act of blogging this guide has made me feel a little more in control, how about you? Of course don’t leave home without your wallet (take more money than you think you’ll need), train tickets and festival entry pass.
Here’s to a fantastic family festival experience!
**We have been offered a discount from Tangerine Fields to provide an honest review of their service and we look forward to telling you all about it after the festival.
***free gift or review sample