Is wild camping suitable for family holidays?

Camping is becoming more popular; people are more adventurous and consider wild camping in place of everyday campsites.

But is wild camping suitable for a week’s holiday as a family?

Wild camping involves hiking to remote locations, not staying in one place and travelling lite. Wild camping is ideal for an adventurous family who enjoys staying in different places per night. However, staying in one location for more than 1-night, wild camping is not suitable for family holidays.

Family holidays should be packed with adventures, exploring, relaxing, having lots of fun and creating unforgettable memories. Having a base camp that you can travel from, explore and combine with wild camping is ideal.

Why family wild camping is not suitable for more than 1-nights stay in one location

Wild camping is unsuitable if you want a family holiday in one location because wild camping is for 1-night in a remote location and then hiking to another area. However, if you want a family holiday similar to wild camping, you can try almost wild camping. A basic campsite with minimal facilities, often none and with no restrictions on your length of stay. It’s an excellent way to get back to basics without the stress.

We tried semi-wild camping before taking the plunge to wild camping to ensure it was suitable for us, and we loved it. You can take all your standard camping gear with additional toilet and solar shower items.

Family camping holidays are about having fun and spending quality time with your family. Depending on your family, lifestyle and activities will depend on whether wild camping as a family is your ideal holiday. Not only will you have to plan your route, ensuring plenty of fun for your children along the way to stop them from getting bored of walking, but you will also be restricted to the distance you travel.

Wild camping is all about hiking to your ideal location and living out of your rucksack, so if it is not in the bag, it stays at home. The food you eat will be fundamental, and you will need to carry lots of water to keep your children hydrated and snacks to keep them energised. You can purchase water sterilising tablets to drink water from fresh running streams, reducing the weight of your rucksacks.

Although you can add essential items to your children’s rucksacks, you cannot expect them to carry heavy items. After a while, you will end up holding their bags for periods. You will need more breaks, which can be frustrating as you want to find that ideal location to settle for the night. But sharing this experience with your children is fantastic, especially for the first time.

For older children, hiking may not cause problems as they can walk further, but you will be restricted to the distance you can travel with younger children. Wild camping over several days, younger children will find it hard going, especially as you cannot keep to routines and settle them down during the evenings. Depending on your location, you will have to wait until other hikers are out of the area before you can pitch your tents.

Wild camping in the UK is illegal, but you can go wild camp, provided you do not trespass in Scotland. There are specific periods of the year when restrictions are in place, and you will need to book in advance. If wild camping in Scotland is interesting to you, find out more from our article about the Byelaws, restrictions and penalties before you go.

Combining family camping holidays with wild camping

Wild camping

It is effortless to combine wild camping with family holidays. Select your main campsite with full facilities, children’s activities, and local attractions. Locating areas you can wild camp will keep everyone happy.

Not only do you experience wild camping for the night and explore the surrounding areas, but you can also return to your base camp, relax and enjoy time with your family.

Ideally, if you have more than one child who wants to try wild camping, take each child separately. This will give you one-to-one time, giving you more time to encourage and teach them about wild camping.

It is easy if there is more than one adult, as one can go wild camping, and another can stay with children that are either too young or not interested. You can pack lite and hike to a remote location for the night, returning to your main campsite the next day.

If you are unsure that wild camping suits you and your family, semi-wild campsites are available. We have tried several semi-wild campsites, they are an excellent way to test if this type of holiday is suitable for you. Find our article, which explains the difference between both. Click here to read semi-wild camping and the gear you will need.

How far to travel wild camping as a family

Wild camping with kids – Keep hiking distance short, walking at a comfortable pace for your child, giving them time to explore and enjoy

Children can hike on average 0.6miles or 1km per day for each year of their life. So for a 5-year-old, expect to only travel 3 miles during the day, which may not seem far for an adult, but a child will be tired.

Letting your child set the walking pace will make it a more enjoyable experience for them. Try not to push them to walk faster, as you do not want a grumpy, tired child at the end of the day. Instead, select accessible routes, nothing with steep paths or lots of steps, as this will tire your child more quickly.

What you need to wild camp with your child

Take lots of drink and snack food to keep energy levels high.

Wild camping with your child, you will need to keep them fully hydrated, and as well as food for the evening, they will want plenty of snacks, their favourite toy and games. Although they will have their rucksack to carry the lite items, you will hold their rucksack after a while. So try to keep everything lite and condensed down as much as possible.

You will also need a two-person overnight tent, warm sleeping bag, head torches, inflatable mattress, mini spade and extra clothing. Plus several different clothes and maybe shoes if the weather changes as kids love to get dirty. Finally, don’t forget a mini cooking stove, as you will not be able to light a fire, plus some form of pan and cutlery.

How safe is your child when wild camping

It can be daunting to take more than one child wild camping, especially young ones. You will have to watch them continuously to ensure their safety. Also, because you will be hiking to the location, you need to consider the more people that go, the larger tent you will need, as you cannot leave young children in a tent on their own unless they are older.

If more than one child wants to go wild camping, it is advisable to have two adults or a responsible person. Keeping an eye on two kids’ wild camping by yourself can be challenging.

If you feel taking several young children wild camping is too much, you can split the trips over several nights and take a child wild camping independently.

Types of food to take wild camping with children

It is essential to take as little with you as possible, as everything you take has to be lite and fit into your rucksack. Don’t take food in tins, as you will need to return the rubbish to your base camp.

We pack snacks we seal in clear plastic bags, dried fruit and nuts, cereal bars, biscuits, and sausage rolls. These mini snacks can be tucked away in small spaces in your rucksack.

Pre-make sandwiches, soup in plastic bottles that fold down, and mug-shot meals quickly heated in the evening.

Don’t try to cook massive evening meals, as you will both be tired and hungry. Quick, meals can be cooked over a backpacker’s gas stove, heat it instantly, and only take a few minutes to cook.


I'm a single parent who loves pitching a tent and exploring the countryside at any opportunity. I am working with a glamping pod company and helping them to set up a family campsite in East Riding Yorkshire.

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