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Family Camping 101 – top tips for top trips

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]It’s outdoors. It’s a novelty. It’s a budget option. It’s perfect family time. And the best bit? There are marshmallows.

Family camping is an easy and rewarding holiday experience. As someone who grew up going on many a road trip and even sleeping out in a tent in the backyard, I’m dismayed to hear that some families shove camping in the too-hard basket. First-time camping and preparation may seem a little daunting, so check out these top tips and tricks for a fun and seamless trip by the beach or in the bush.

1. Check all equipment before you go

Make sure all the bits and pieces are there before you take off to avoid nasty surprises upon arrival. If equipment is new, give it a trial run at home – specially tents and stoves.

2. Arrive at your campsite in daylight

This makes setting up much easier and allows you to get your bearings. Locate the toilets if there are any and set out bedding before dark.

3. Prepare for all climates

Bring wet weather gear no matter what, including raincoats and a weatherproof fly for the tent. A warm jumper is a good idea too.

4. Pack a repair kit

Some gaffer tape, extra rope, a sewing kit and even spare poles will seem like dead weight in the boot of your car until you need them. Then they become a godsend. I once kept a tent up with an esky, a car door and an umbrella after a tent pole snapped. Heavy-duty tape would have been a much quicker fix.

5. Pack extra food and plenty of water

A spare day’s food and drinking water is important in an emergency, especially on overnight hikes or in remote areas.

6. Prioritise First Aid

Check your First Aid kit is fully stocked and replenished before leaving as it will come in handy for emergencies big and small.

7. Keep your campsite tidy

Store your food in a dry bag or sealed container, and keep rubbish away from where you sleep. Avoid attracting unwanted insect or animal guests.

8. Book in advance

School holidays and long weekends book out quickly, so jump in early especially if you want to camp somewhere popular. March and April can be really pleasant if the weather is still mild.

9. Borrow equipment

Make sure camping is for you before committing to expensive purchases.

10. Choose the right equipment

When it does come time to buy, think carefully about what your family needs. Choose a tent that is big enough and easy enough to put up and pack away. After a while my family stopped using our big touring tent in favour of two smaller annexed domes because they were much simpler and less time-consuming. Climate ratings on sleeping bags are another biggie.

11. Choose the right spot

If you’ve never camped before, consider opting for a caravan park where you have access to electricity, shower blocks, camp kitchens, laundries and convenience stores.

12. Pack some creature comforts

After a few weekend trips, you will build up your list of essentials. Some of them may seem like luxuries but they will make the experience ten times easier. Bring a hammer or small mallet to push tent pegs in and a doormat for the tent entrance. Bring a dustpan and broom to sweep away sand and dirt, and a ground sheet to lay under your tent. Bring a pump for airbeds and individual torches for everyone including kids. I recommend head torches to keep your hands free for board games and Spotlight.

13. Keep meals simple but yummy

Pre-made meals are easy to heat up on a stove, and sausages and veggies or bacon and eggs are easily cooked on a barbie. Aim for few ingredients and short preparation time. For some fun, try camp staples like marshmallows melted on an open fire or damper cooked over hot coals. Don’t forget tea and coffee and definitely don’t forget the chocolate.

This story is based on top tips from Reader’s Digest about Avoiding 10 Worst Camping Mistakes and a comprehensive Camping Guide from Out and About with Kids.


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