How to camp at home – and enjoy it!

Here’s a confession. We are not really a family that camps.

We’ve actually only camped once together when we went to the Just So Festival. Over three days we slept in a rented tent and my kids loved it. They’ve been begging us to go on a family camping holiday ever since.

For one reason or another, not least because I like sleeping in beds, we had yet to make that camping holiday a reality. That is until lockdown happened and we decided to go on a camping adventure at home.


Camping at home
The Millets Eurohike Pop 400

After endless weeks at home the kids were getting restless. The May half-term was fast approaching and, with travel restrictions still in place, we wanted to make this week a little different from all the rest.

And so we decided to go camping.

The only trouble was, we owned no camping gear.

Disclosure: We were gifted the camping equipment by Millets for the purpose of this review and as part of their #CampAtHome campaign. For more information see our disclosure policy. This post may contain affiliate and commercial links. If you make a purchase or booking after clicking on the link then globetotting receives a small commission. 


Camp at home
The Eurohike Pop 400 tent is easy to put up and roomy!


Fortunately, I was contacted by Millets, the UK’s leading retailer of Outdoor Clothing, Footwear & Equipment. They have been running a #StayHomeCamp campaign to encourage families to get outdoors, even if that just means getting out into the garden.

We live in London and are very lucky to have a garden. It is, admittedly, not a very big garden but it’s outdoor space. And, as we soon discovered, there’s more than enough space to pitch a tent.

Once we had pitched our tent, which was surprisingly easy to do even for novice campers such as ourselves, we couldn’t get the kids back inside the house.

They spent the half-term week sleeping outdoors and had the most magical time. If you’re planning to go camping in your backyard then here are some of our top tips.


Camping in the garden tips

Camp at home
Camping in the backyard (the garden could do with a water!)


One of the best things about camping in the garden is that it is so easy.

‘Normal’ camping trips involve a lot of preparation whereas camping at home requires very little. You don’t have to pack or prep food; there’s no driving involved; and you have your campsite (your garden) to yourselves! Staying close to home is also a great way to trial camping if you’re not entirely sure that sleeping under canvas is for you.


Keep warm

Our half-term camping at home was definitely more ‘glamping’ than hardcore camping. The kids furnished their tent with duvets and pillows, toys and teddy bears. They also had sleeping bags to keep them warm. Warmth is definitely a key factor. Despite the sunny May weather the nights were cool. Make sure you have the right kit to keep the kids cosy.


Be inclusive

Get the kids involved with setting up the tent and the various other bits of camping furniture. Even small kids can get involved unpacking sleeping bags and arranging sleeping mats. I can guaranteed that they’ll find setting up camp a lot more fun than taking it all down!


Ready to camp in the garden!


Tell stories

We’ve all seen those movies of American summer camps where they tell ghost stories around the campfire. My kids really wanted to create a similar kind of experience but ended up telling stories in the tent rather than outside of it. On some nights they took turns telling stories to one another and on other nights, they used their head torches to read.


Cook outside

One of the joys of camping, so I’m told, is cooking outside. We were given a portable barbecue by Millets and succeeded in cooking s’mores. Next time we pitch the tent, we might try and be more ambitious. Hot dogs are one option but if you want something a little bit more sophisticated then there are some great camping recipes on the BBC Good Food website.

The great thing about having a home camp is that you can always retreat to the fridge if you are still hungry!


Use lights

The kids hung a head torch up in the tent so that they had light. We also kept the downstairs light on in the house in case one of them woke up in the night and wanted to go inside.

Another idea – and one that we’ll try next time is to hang battery-powered fairy lights – or string lights – inside the tent. You could also use lanterns. This is both a fun way to decorate the tent but also helps younger kids who might be nervous about sleeping under canvas.


Camp at home
Using head torches to read stories


Decorate the tent

Another joy of backyard camping is that you don’t have to transport your things far. This means that you can really go to town with soft (camping) furnishings.

If you’re wondering how to decorate a camping tent consider cushions and blankets as well as fairy lights. These lights look great if you have a teepee tent. Another good idea for decorating your tent is to hang up bunting.

Camping in the garden meant that the kids can bring their favourite books with them as well as a board game or two.


Go stargazing

Despite the low levels of pollution over London during this time, the capital is still not a great place for stargazing. If you happen to be camping at home and you live in the countryside then make sure you look up at the night sky.

Younger kids can count stars and look for shooting ones. Older kids can identify constellations using a star guide. Serious astrologists might want to invest in a telescope.


Forget the rules

One of the things that the kids loved most about their camping in the garden experience was the lack of rules. Bedtimes got later as the week progressed; they woke up when they wanted to; they cooked s’mores on the outdoor barbecue; and generally they had a brilliant time.

Although the kids had never planned to spend the week in the tent, they woke up each morning thinking “just one more night…” and before we knew it, half-term was over.

Our tent is now packed safely away (taking it down was almost as easy as putting it up) but it won’t be long before we pitch it again.

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