Australians have always embraced camping as an enjoyable and affordable way to get away, relax and recharge from the business of the daily grind. Perhaps you are wondering whether camping would suit you and your family and what you need to know that could make or break a tent getaway. Check out the tips below to help you and your family enjoy the next camping adventure.
Go with friends
Camping with friends and family will make the first trip more enjoyable. Not only will it allow for campfire chats but it will also ensure you have friends on hand to help start fires and put up the tent while your skills are developing.
Camping is budget friendly once you have all the gear required. Borrowing from friends is a great way to have the camping experience without the expense and check whether your family enjoy camping before spending money.
Check your gear first
Campsites usually don’t have shopping centres close by. Your cousin may lend you his tent but you need to check it doesn’t have holes in it before you use it. Double check all your equipment before you leave home.
Choose the right location
Caravan Parks, National Parks or bush camping are the 3 main options. Decide how important hot showers are and whether or not you want to toast marshmellows over an open fire. Be aware that caravan parks will not allow fires and National Park popular locations will often be booked out early.
Spring or autumn
Camping will be more enjoyable in spring or autumn. By choosing a weekend camping getaway at these times of the year you will have decided if you are ready to camp in the cold of winter or heat of summer.
When you arrive at your campsite go for a discovery walk with the kids first. Check out the lie of the land, if there are roads or rivers nearby and how to access the toilets. If there are any potential hazards or boundaries then point these out now so kids can explore while you set up the tent.
Give kids a whistle
Camping lets kids get back to nature. They want to explore, build forts and swing off trees. Give your child a whistle to wear and tell them to only blow it in an emergency. If they do injure themselves a whistle will carry further then their voice will.
“Only Inside our Tent” Rule
It pays to remind kids of stranger danger while camping, particularly in busy campgrounds. I recommend the “only inside our tent rule” when visiting new friends. We always put down a large picnic blanket in our campground and the kids gather for fierce Uno battles.
Explicit Fire Safety
With the right precautions parents need not panic about their children being near fire. Having camped with babies and toddlers my suggestions are:
- Scrape a large area back from the fire and create a visual barrier. Tell children to remain behind this ring in case of flying embers.
- Allow children close, with supervision, to feel the radiant heat and know that fire burns.
- Have kids remain seated at all times near the fire.
- No ball games near the fire.
Shake it out Rule
Shoes, jumpers and sleeping bags all need a good shake out before being used by children and adults alike. Remind them to look for spiders, snakes and cheeky possums that like to get inside the tents.
After packing the tent, tarp, ground sheet, mattress mats and sleeping bags these are the family essential items I suggest for camping:
- A dustpan – Have you seen how much sand and grit a small child can carry between their toes! A dustpan will make sure that the tent floor does not become covered in grit and save your sanity. Keep all shoes outside and bring inside only when going to sleep.
- Old Clothes – It can be surprising the difference between the heat of the day and the cool of night when camping. Kids need lots of old clothes, and in layers including beanies. Camping is fun but not glamorous.
- Hot water bottles – when camping in cooler weather, heat extra water over the fire and fill hot water bottles. Pop these into their sleeping bags and the kids will be so toasty warm they won’t want to jump out of bed to bother you at night. Remove once the kids are asleep.
- Toilet Paper and Vicks – If you decide to camp in the National Park or State Forest then you will need both for the long drop toilets. Enough said.
For camping newbies I would recommend a campsite in a National Park located not too far from a town with eating options. Our last campsite was around the corner from Daylesford which gave us easy options and minimised food prep.
If you want to cook over an open fire yourself then
- Remember to bring fire lighters as well as a small gas stove if fire bans are in place.
- Bring oven mitts for removing hot objects from the fire
- A good cast iron frying pan will allow you to cook almost anything
- Jaffles 3 times a day while camping is considered acceptable.
- Eggs can be best carried by pre-scrambling them at home and pouring into zip lock bags.
Those are my essential tips for fun family camping. Give it a go – you may be pleasantly surprised. Share your best camping tip below
Michelle is a travel loving, bike riding, mum to two who loves holidaying in a tent and can be found sharing stories at Gee You’re Brave about living life and parenting with an adventurous spirit. Michelle has a Masters in Special Education, currently works at an Art Teacher for children with an intellectual disability and is passionate about helping children express themselves and reach their full potential.
Michelle would love to connect with you Facebook or Instagram.
Check out our community tips on camping with a 6 month old