Packing For a Family Festival

Packing for a family festival should not be taken lightly. Do as I say not as I did last year!

What not to do…

We camped at festivals last year and I massively…hugely… and if I’m honest…disastrously underestimated what we would need in order to make the camping experience a pleasant one. I thought we would manage with bare essentials, I thought travelling light would be our best plan. Turns out I was wrong (and I NEVER admit that).

Fail To Prepare and Prepare to Fail

I always hated this phrase…until I camped without planning. I take it all back. If you approach packing for a family festival like a ninja and you will survive and hell, you might even sleep!

I made many mistakes – the first one being the lack of a festival trolley. I poo-pooed the need for a decent festival trolley and opted instead for a cheapy from the bargain shop in town. This resulted in my husband teaching my kids a whole barrage of new cuss words as he lost the contents of the camping bin bags on the hill of death at Camp Bestival. The big box of wine also fell from said cheapy festival trolley, spilling it’s life-saving properties across the field. They increased their vocabulary yet again when he told me.

We laugh about it now – well I do, and the kids join in – husband…not so much. The kids love their new technicolour language – me…not so much.

We took sheets and thin blankets rather than heavy duty sleeping bags as we set off from home in tropical temperatures. This was another newbie fail of epic proportions people – we live in England when all said and done. 2018 was the year of the wind at Camp B – I’ll say no more. We didn’t bother with storage facilities, assumed that festival food couldn’t be ‘that’ expensive and believed that one pack of loo rolls would do.  Please heed the following advice and pack as though you are heading off for a month survival course (even the best 3 day festival feels like this by the end).

If you have read my tent review from last year then you’ll know that I am a fair weather camper (and honestly I’d prefer a B&B with crisp cotton sheets) but the kids and him indoors love the outdoors so I’m facing my camping objections head on this year and packing properly.

Packing For A Family Festival – Things you MUST NOT leave home without:

A decent tent

Please note a ‘decent tent’ does not mean one that you picked up for £50 from your brother-in-law that you didn’t check before setting off. A decent tent is one with no bent poles, instructions printed on the tent (and not on the box that you will inevitably leave at home) and one with more capacity than you think you will possibly need. As much as I love my family I don’t enjoy being sardined in with sweaty people when a few quid extra would buy me more space. Your kids are only going to get bigger from here on in. Invest in canvas wisely.

Vango tent

One more note on tents. If YOUR tent gets destroyed in bad weather and even it if is a rubbish £50 number – at the end of the day it is YOUR tent and YOUR responsibility. Take the damn thing home whatever state it is in.

Quality tent pegs and a mallet

We use – this is not a paid or sponsored endorsement but our tent may well have blown away with the others at Camp Bestival without them.

Camping sign camp bestival

Sleeping bags

I am a fair-weather camper with a back that is shot to pieces. A sheet is not enough even in tropical temperatures. You will freeze. End of.

Something to sit on

If you are over 18 then take chairs! Also invest in a decent waterproof-backing picnic blanket.

Camping Chairs Around Campfire In Field

A Festival Trolley

Don’t skimp. Buy the trolley. Buy a decent one. Avoid divorce proceedings.

Camp beds or fishing beds

As a bendy teen and lithe twenty-something I camped with just a roll mat. That ship has long sailed and we now take the closest thing to a real bed that we can find. As someone with a really bad back I have found that a ‘carp fishing chair/bed’ (I’m serious) is the best option. Comfortable, supportive and great for kids sleepovers when you get home. I’ve lost count of the inflatable air beds that have popped or gone down in the night. A pricey investment maybe but worth every penny for me.

Recyclable Bin Bags

Camping can be fun but camping is messy, often wet and dirty and without said bin bags your tent will dissolve into a mess to rival a teenagers bedroom within a few short hours and smell bad too. Recyclable bin bags can be your saviour. They are also great for packing clothes to take so that they can be rammed into your car boot without the need for big holdalls.

Water Carrier

This is one of the few things we got right last year. In our bid to reduce the amount of plastic we take everywhere we invested in two large water carriers. Yes they are plastic but we refilled our eco water bottles time and time over from our large carrier. We preferred the ones with taps on so that the kids can refill on their own. We also made the genius move of filling them up and freezing them in the chest freezer before setting off. Not only does this help keep all the food chilled but also gave us cold water until day 2 of the festival.


Whatever weather you set off in. No matter how warm. Pack the wellies people. You will thank me later. Same goes for waterproof coats.

Sunhats and sunscreen

This may seem an odd addition to list right under wellies but British weather is a fickle beast and you will probably need both. Buying sunhats and sunscreen at a festival is pricey business.

Child Lying In Field Wearing Slogan Tshirt

The items above are my headliner items. Below are the support acts but no less important!

  • A cool box full of food. We freeze most of the fresh food. This acts as an extra cool pack and keeps things fresh for a couple of days.
  • Bags packed with a days worth of snacks – think dried fruit, nuts, crisps, trail bars, energy balls, sweets. By organising them into a days worth rather than a huge box of snacks you can save the faffing about picking snacks out or taking all haribos and nothing vaguely nutritional (I’m looking at you Wild Tribe).
  • A cooking stove and spare canisters
  • A sharp knife, tin opener, wooden cooking spoons, a decent pan set
  • Washing up liquid and a washing bowl
  • Tea towel, dishcloth and pegs for drying
  • Cutlery – don’t forget it. We did!
  • Wipes and tissues – lots of. Festival toilets are not pretty and my youngest spent half the time trying to avoid them as ‘the smell got stuck in her nose’. Try to find biodegradable wipes.
  • More changes of socks than you expect to need – then add a few extra pairs
  • A powerful phone charger – you can buy or rent chargers at most festivals these days but a decent charger is a sound investment
  • A watch or battery operated clock
  • Lighting – either a battery operated lantern or a set of solar lights
  • A decent torch. Wind up ones are brilliant
  • A flag or fairy lights. Those tents all look the same in the dark!

NB – this post contains affiliate links to recommended products. Please note that these are items we genuinely use and are not sponsored in any way. Purchasing via these links earns me a small commission at no extra cost to you.