Camping holidays in the rain: cost-effective options for family fun

Camping holidays with children can bring long days of fun at a fraction of the cost of staying in hotels or self-catering apartments. Being so close to nature and enjoying the great outdoors is incredibly fulfilling.
But, what about when it rains?
Unfortunately, in the UK we have a climate that is sometimes not conducive to living under canvas. No surprises here – children don’t like being cooped up in a tent with grumpy adults when it’s raining outside.
For the ultimate tension, heaven forbid you choose a pitch without electric hook up, where you’ll have the double whammy of little people annoyed with the rain and without devices (unless you’re one of those families that rock up to cafes and order drinks that suspiciously take as long to consume as the battery on an iPad takes to charge!).
Such scenarios can put people off booking camping holidays which, when you consider the stunning landscapes and wildlife these isles have to offer, is a huge shame.

Dealing with rain when camping: it’s all in the prep

So, how should families approach a camping holiday during a period of “changeable” weather? How can they avoid spending a ridiculous amount of money yet keep everyone entertained and on the right side of insanity?
There are two golden rules for stopping the rain from spoiling your camping holiday:

  1. Prepare for it
  2. Embrace it!

Preparing for a rainy camping holiday

As any good Scout will tell you, preparation is key, and once this is mastered it’s much easier to embrace the elements and everything that they – almost literally - want to throw at you! You should pack equipment and activities for all eventualities, despite what the forecast might be telling you, so that the children have plenty to do.

Bring an extension!

Awnings are a great way to extend your holiday abode, giving the whole family extra space for inside activities. They also provide useful space for drying off from the rain, thereby keeping the bedrooms of the tent dry. An awning can house a table and chairs which can have the dual purpose of a games area and a dining table. 
Gazebos and shelters offer essential, additional outside space, allowing you to take in the fresh air while staying dry. As long as its footprint remains within your booked pitch size, a gazebo allows you to roam around and not feel so hemmed in by the weather.

Pack waterproofs

Waterproof clothing and footwear are essential for a UK camping holiday to open up the options for activities and keeping everyone warm and comfortable. More on this later.

Embracing a rainy camping holiday

Once you’re prepped as much as you can, if it does rain, your only option is to embrace it and still enjoy your camping holiday to the full. There are many things you can do, it just takes imagination, determination and a good old dose of family fun:

Play board games

Show the “devices at the ready” generation that board games and bored games are not the same thing. Use that table we mentioned earlier, either in your awning or under a gazebo, and get everyone involved. A good bout of family competition is good for all….isn’t it?

Take a pack of cards

It’s quick and easy to teach children to play cards, and they’re very easy to pack. Avoiding competitive combat during a simple game of Snap or Pairs can bring much hilarity to proceedings, and should everyone fall out there is the added option for a family member to slope off and play Solitaire!

Play charades

Get creative with charades and have fun watching everyone emerge from their comfort zone. Children may not be used to seeing their parents mimic animals or acting out scenes from movies. Likewise, parents can learn much about their children’s social references!

Play Twister

Back to using the gazebo (you see, we told you it was a good idea!), a game of Twister can provide some of the funniest memories from a holiday and it will keep the children entertained for a considerable amount of time. There is always the option for parents to feign injury at some point and leave the children to it.

Go out anyway!

With all the waterproof clothing you’ve packed, there is nothing to stop you venturing away from the safety of your tent to the great outdoors, even when it’s raining. Honestly! This is truly embracing the rain while camping. Quality, waterproof walking boots will take you anywhere you would go in better weather, and keep you dry and comfortable throughout.
Why miss out on exercise and adventure just because of rain? Here are some options:
Go walking wearing your waterproof jackets and over-trousers so that you can still get to appreciate the local landscapes and wildlife. There are many birds, mammals and minibeasts that are more likely to be seen during wet weather so there is potentially more to observe. Perhaps have a pitstop planned where you can strip off the waterproofs and appreciate a well-deserved drink and snack before you venture out again. If you’re lucky, it will have stopped raining before the return leg!
How about playing hide and seek in a wooded area? The trees will provide a level of shelter, and woods have oodles of options for hiding.
Build a den! The activity will keep you warm, and once completed you will have created your own shelter. With any luck, if it carries on raining during the holiday it will still be there for you to return to. A den inspires children’s imagination and resourcefulness as they not only build a physical structure, but also create stories and games around it.
At the end of a rainy day, if the weather is still poor, get a campfire going – as long as it’s permitted at your campsite (please check!). A campfire is a focal point and heart-warming sight that has the power to stop everyone feeling demoralised in the evening. Unless it’s pouring down, you should still be able to start a campfire in the rain. There may be a communal area for campfires, or a firepit at your pitch, either way it’s a great way to encourage the art of conversation and get toasty warm.
There are many things you can do outdoors when it’s raining. Research the local area but don’t be cajoled into spending money to keep away from the rain. Ask the children what they would like to do outside – they’ll probably come up with some great ideas of their own.

Get in touch

If you have any tips for a rainy camping holiday, do let us know! Don’t be put off by the rain, instead prepare, get creative and have a fantastic time exploring the great British countryside.
BCH Camping can provide campers with a wide range of equipment and clothing. Visit one of our stores or browse the website for everything you will need to have a great camping holiday – regardless of the weather!