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RSPB's Top Tips for A Screen-Free Family Camping Trip

Summer is the perfect time to explore the great outdoors with family, friends or as a solo adventurer. What better way to end the summer season than with a digital detox in nature? Research has found that a seven-day abstinence from social media apps improved mental wellbeing and with more than 76 million videos using the TikTok hastag #digitaldetox, clearly, people are looking for new ways to step away from their screens.

Between work, school and digital downtime, it can be hard to power down our devices and switch off. Thankfully, with the onset of the summer, plenty of us will have more time to unplug and unwind with a calming holiday in nature. To help you plan a relaxing trip and leave the screens behind, the RSPB Shop has curated this useful wild weekends guide including where to go, what to pack and the best outdoor activities.

Discovering Family-Friendly Camping and Hiking Spots: 3 Handy Tips

You don’t have to go abroad to get away from it all. The UK is full of beautiful family-friendly camping spots that make the ideal staycation. Hike along the incredible trails of the Lake District or relax on a scenic campsite in Wales overlooking the beach — there’s a location for everyone.

Here are some top tips for finding the best family-friendly spots for your trip:

  1. Look for trails with easy terrain and interesting landmarks: When hiking as a family, opt for paths rated as easy to moderate in difficulty, ensuring they can be comfortably completed within a few hours. Keep an eye out for areas featuring exciting landmarks – this will add an extra element of fun for the whole family and prevent your children from getting restless or bored along the way!

  2. Find campsites with family-friendly amenities: If you’re trying to limit screen time on your trip then make sure your chosen campsite has a range of amenities. A games room, pool or other on-site activities such as kayaking can help you spend time together as a family without being on your phone.

  3. Immerse yourself somewhere completely new: The best way of enjoying a screen-free trip is to camp somewhere you’ve never been before. With new local sights to see and fun activities to do, such as birdwatching where you can spot birds that you don’t usually see back home, you’ll be too busy spending quality time with your loved ones to be worried about your phone.

A spokesperson at RSPB says enjoying time in nature away from screens is a great way to reconnect with your loved ones:

“It can be hard to switch off especially when screens are such a big part of our lives but going back to basics and slowing down in nature is great for your mind. Detoxing from digital devices is a way of focusing on real-life social interactions without distractions. The simplicity of camping and being outside is a great way of spending quality time with friends and family and provides the space to reconnect with yourself, reconnect with nature and reconnect with your loved ones.”

Where to go for a screen-free weekend in nature

Some of the UK’s prime spots for camping and hiking include:

* The South West: from the amazing Jurassic Coast across Dorset and Devon to the coastal walks in Cornwall, the South West is one of the most popular regions for UK breaks. Trails like Lulworth Cove to Durdle Door offer breath-taking views until you reach an incredible beach which is perfect for a spot of lunch and relaxation.

* The Lake District: with its characteristic U-shaped valleys and craggy hills, this national park in Cumbria offers endless dramatic hiking trails. Haweswater is a great spot for observing all kinds of birds including birds of prey. Campsites here provide a stunning backdrop of mountains and lakes that offer the perfect morning views.

* Scotland: between its boundless glens and abundant lochs, Scotland is a hiker’s paradise. Families can also enjoy spotting the landmarks and sights such as Hagrid’s Hut in Glencoe or the many fairy pools on the Isle of Skye.

* Wales: Wales boasts hiking trails and outdoor activities galore. Head to the Brecon Beacons for waterfall hikes or tackle the highest point in Southern Britain, Pen y Fan. Alternatively, why not camp near the beach? Tenby is a great spot for a fun family weekend by the sea.

Essentials items you need to pack

The key to planning a great camping trip is preparation as the last thing you want is to arrive without your essentials! Who knows what adventures you might get up to? Pack for all eventualities, including the weather, and your trip will be smooth sailing.

Here are the RSPB’s top packing essentials:

For camping:

* A high-quality tent (that can withstand all weather conditions) is always essential. If you are travelling with children, you may benefit from a pop-up tent as less time will need to be spent on setup.

* Sleeping bags come in a variety of sizes and thicknesses. Be sure to look at sleeping bags suitable for the type of weather you will likely encounter at the location you are staying in.

Camping chairs are great for sitting around your tent or enjoying an evening around the campfire, if your campsite allows them. Choose chairs that are foldable and light so they can be easily packed away and carried around on day trips.

* A large backpack is a necessity for carrying your camping gear and taking your essentials on hikes. Look for a design with plenty of pockets so you can easily reach your water bottle, map and other items without needing to rummage through the main compartment.

* You’ll need a camping stove and camping mugs for morning coffees, an afternoon cup of tea or evening hot chocolate. Stainless steel mugs are ideal for keeping drinks hot and cold so you can cut down on how much you pack!

For hiking:

* A waterproof jacket to keep you dry while hiking and exploring. You’ll need something lightweight but water-resistant to keep you dry but cool while you’re hiking.

* Sun protection including a sun hat for long walks outdoors, sunglasses and sun cream. Even in cloudy weather your skin still needs protection from UV rays, especially if you’re going to be hiking outside between the peak times of 11am to 3pm.

For picnics:

* A rollable picnic blanket will help protect the ground during picnics on the beach or having a spot of lunch mid-hike. Don’t forget a cool bag too so you can prepare and bring your own lunch to reduce waste from plastic wrappers, containers, and carrier bags.

* Reusable plates, bowls and cups that can be cleaned back at your campsite are much more environmentally friendly compared to single-use items. Plus, they can be used year after year for every camping trip!

* Pack a reusable bottle for taking hot or cold drinks on to go. It’s important to stay hydrated when hiking and a thermal insulated bottle will keep liquids at the right temperature for hours.

Fun screen-free activities for your camping trip

To keep you and your family occupied and limit screen time on your trip, be sure to plan some fun activities during the day and back at camp. Research has found that 95% of parents say tech interferes with daily opportunities for talking, playing and interacting with their child without distraction at least a little — a wild weekend is the perfect time to improve this.

Here are some family-friendly activities that everyone can enjoy:

1. Nature spotting: Get closer to nature and see what wildlife you can spot. A Mighty Magnifier is great for looking at leaves, rocks, shells and everything in between while on your nature walks. With a mini beasts guide you can identify exactly what creatures you come across.

2. Birdwatching: Wherever you end up hiking, instead of looking down at your phone look up! The skies are full of amazing birds, big and small, so invest in a good pair of birdwatching binoculars including a pair of kids binoculars for your little ones. In Pembrokeshire you might be lucky enough to spot a Peregrine Falcon or in Devon, a Buzzard could make an appearance so keep a look out!

3. Campfire stories: Storytelling encourages imagination and allows you to communicate with your family in a fun and engaging way. Have one person start off the story before going around the circle so each person can carry it on and see what you all come up with!

4. Games night: Whether you get cosy in your tent or head to your campsite’s family room, games night is the perfect way to end your day. How about a game of Woodland Animals Top Trumps? It’s a fantastic game for teaching kids about some of the amazing creatures they might see on their hike or back home. If you don’t play games together often, everyone will appreciate this special time together.

5. Campfire snacks: You can’t go camping with campfire snacks, right? If your campsite allows it, light a small fire or BBQ where you can roast marshmallows. Use this time to sit back and relax with your loved ones over a tasty treat.