Going camping with kids: the ultimate Dutch holiday guide

Camping with kids might sound like a hectic vacation — but it’s not nearly as chaotic as flying out of a Dutch airport. Camping vacations are becoming increasingly desirable for travellers from the Netherlands. and they’re more kid-friendly than you’d think! 

Especially camping in France, which is THE classic holiday for a typical Dutch family — and, yes, there are plenty of ways to accommodate the kids. 

Whether you’re munching on baguettes in France or shoving schnitzels in Austria, this is the ultimate holiday guide to going camping with kids.

Why you should go camping with kids

Camping with kids doesn’t have to be all about roughing it up in the middle of nowhere with screaming babies (or partners) and no time for rest and relaxation. 

There are a few reasons you might want to consider camping as your next family holiday. 

Expensive plane tickets and disorganised airports seem like everything but chill, and it can be hard to fly your whole family out of the Netherlands during the summer months.

Not referring to any airport particular. Nope. Not at all. Image: Depositphotos

When you consider these setbacks, driving to a nearby country like France seems like a no-brainer. 

By choosing to roll up the sleeping mats, grab the tent poles, and hop in the car, you get so much more flexibility in planning your trip to and from your destination. Just think of all the places you could stop in between (when the kiddies need to plassen).

Not to mention: 

  • You can take your beloved pet and as many people in your car as you’d like. If you have a camper in the Netherlands, you might even be eligible for tax deductions!
  • There are no luggage weight or piece limits

And the flexibility doesn’t just end with the journey there and back — you can tailor your camping accommodation wherever you choose to go. 

Want to have a pitch in the countryside for three people? Or a rental unit next to the ocean for a family of eight? Easily done! 

Doesn’t this cottage seem like the perfect family getaway this summer? Image: Depositphotos

You can even choose to have access to spa & wellness facilities and virtually any place to swim, whether it’s a pool, a river, or the sea. 

Most campsites nowadays have special activities for kids of all ages, ranging from creative workshops and crafts to sports and nature exploration. It’s a great way to keep children busy at camp while you get a chance to relax. 

Picking a destination for camping with kids

Europe is easy to get around — by car, train, or even bicycle. But choosing a holiday destination can be stressful, especially if you’re thinking about going camping with kids. 

There are a few prime countries to pitch your tent, but France is a firm favourite for camping Dutchies

Camping in France is the essential Dutch holiday. Image: Depositphotos

Why? (Or shall we say, pourquoi?) France is far enough from the Netherlands that you actually get warm and sunny weather in the summertime, but it’s also near enough to drive in a day or two, depending on where you want to camp in the country. 

And when travelling with children, this can save you a lot of stress, stops, and strops. 

It feels both adventurous and convenient, making it a great place to camp, especially if you haven’t gone before. 

Where family memories will be made for a lifetime! Image: Depositphotos

The next step is picking exactly where you want to go and what kind of campsite you want to stay at. There are a few things you should keep in mind:

  • How many people you’re going to travel with
  • Whether you want to stay in a rental unit (like a cottage) or a pitch (as in tents and RVs)
  • What kind of facilities you want at your campsite, e.g. a pool, spa & wellness centres, playgrounds etc.
  • What surroundings you want to have, e.g. ocean, seaside, countryside, near a city or town, etc. 

It can be a lot to think about when you’re planning a family vacation with the kids. Here are our recommendations for a few different camping getaways. 

Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes: for introducing your kids to nature

Picture this: beautiful caves, quaint villages, scenic waters — a truly relaxing break. Camping on the banks of the Ardèche river awaits you, with vast expanses of nature all around. 

You can’t find views like this anywhere else! Image: Depositphotos

Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes is the perfect destination if you want to introduce your kids to nature. 

You can enjoy a day at the spa, paddle along the Ardéche river, or visit the historical city of Annecy and its charming lake. Lakeside and riverside camping is the perfect plan for nature lovers — it’ll be a slice of paradise that your little ones are sure to enjoy.  

Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur: bring the kids to the coastline

Combine a beach vacation with an exciting camping trip to Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur

You can enjoy some time camping with kids next to the beautiful, blue coast of the Mediterranean or spend a day rummaging around nature and visiting the hidden creeks.

If the kids are winding up, you can always tire them out by taking advantage of the waterpark as well as plenty of water sports. 

There’s plenty of fun to be had at a cool waterpark! Image: Depositphotos

If you want a change of scenery, look no further! You’ll only be a few kilometres away from Saint-Aygulf, on the banks of the Mediterranean in the heart of the French Riviera. 

Centre-Val De Loire: chateaus and a fairytale feel for the kids

Experience beautiful French châteaus and five-star camping amongst fairytale-like landscapes. It makes you feel as though you’re in a castle of your own — and those little princes and princesses are sure to love it. 

You could also visit the Château de Chambord, the largest château in the Loire Valley, famous, known for its beautiful Renaissance architecture!

Even the little ones will find something to enjoy about these gorgeous châteaux! Image: Depositphotos

The kids would definitely love a camping holiday in Centre-Val De Loire. You can enjoy bike rides through the countryside, visit nearby monuments, or simply indulge in the royal treatment at a comfy campsite.  

Tips for camping with kids

So you’ve finally settled on a location with your family, and you’re planning the upcoming trip — now, how do you manage children when you go camping?

Luckily, you’re not the first family to go camping with children. Plenty of people have tried and tested ways to go camping with kids, and this is the wisdom they have to offer. 

Don’t overpack — but come prepared

Campers often bring too many of the same types of clothes but don’t pack for the right types of weather. We suggest the opposite. 

Instead of packing multiple bathing suits, shorts and t-shirts, bring as little as possible. Then pack for cold, windy, and rainy weather as well.

You can be ready for everything without packing a mountain-load of luggage! Image: Depositphotos

Evenings can be chilly, and sometimes you might be unlucky with the weather. But you can always reuse clothes, and some campsites have facilities to wash them. 

Leave the devices at home

Tablets, laptops, and smartphones should be left at home, or at least kept away during your camping trip. 

You can immerse yourselves in the radio silence when camping with kids and really get them to appreciate nature and the outdoors. 

Plan some family activities beforehand

Research what kind of activities the campsite has for families. Perhaps it’s water sports, hiking, tennis, or another nature activity. 

Camping with the kids often involves planning ahead — but it’s worth it! Image: Depositphotos

This is a great way to get your kids involved in planning your vacation. You know exactly what your kids want to do, and you get a chance to spend some quality time together. Sounds like a win-win!

Don’t forget to schedule some time for yourself

In the same way, see what activities your kids can do by themselves to give yourself (and your partner) some time to relax. 

It’s important to rest yourself during family vacations, and plenty of campsites have the facilities for just that. 

Book a sauna session or a spa day and let kids enjoy an activity by themselves!

Get a chance to relax a little bit during your camping holiday. Image: Depositphotos

Teach your children camping etiquette

Before we finish up, there’s one very important aspect of camping with kids that we have to touch on: camping etiquette. 

Being on a campsite means you share a lot of space with other people. It’ll be a great opportunity to teach your kids how to be considerate of people’s space and privacy during a camping trip. 

For example, reminding kids to be respectful in common areas and of other people’s privacy, being appreciative of nature, etc. 

Etiquette like this is also easily carried over to other parts of life, meaning it’s definitely a worthwhile lesson — and you’ll be spared some sneers from fellow campers.

Read this guide back to front and side to side? Then congrats! You’re ready to go camping with kids, now let’s just hope the kids are ready to go camping with you. 

Do you have any tips for camping with kids? Tell us in the comments below!

Feature Image:Depositphotos
Katrien Nivera 🇵🇭
Katrien Nivera 🇵🇭
Third culture kid Katrien is a Philippine native who’s been living in the Netherlands since she was a tween. One identity crisis and two university degrees later, she is here to stay for her passion in writing and journalism. Other than organising her life on Notion and the sticky notes app, Katrien is found nose-deep in a good book, button-mashing on her Nintendo Switch, or practicing scales on her flute.

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