Tips For Camping With Kids
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By Hayley Dean, ellaslist
There are only two types of people in this world; those of us who love camping and those who are yet to realise they love camping.
Camping is magical. And it’s now a booming industry. Unless you have either experience or research behind you, it can very quickly become an expensive way to live homeless.
I grew up camping and love it. My partner however did not. There is a funny family story about my Father and brother in law on the first (and last) school camping trip. Inexperienced and unaware of what was required, they snuck away from camp to snooze inside the family car. This is not camping.
Chatting to a new friend yesterday, I realised how overwhelming the thought of camping can be when you’re first starting out. Let’s face it, the average household puts those annual overseas holidays aside once children come along and camping can be a wonderful holiday alternative.
I’m here to tell you that you don’t need to be worried. You really only need a couple of basic items to be comfortable and the rest of the fun, as they say, is what you make it.
1. Sleeping arrangements
There is a reason I have made this point number one because it, in my opinion, is the most important. Sleeping arrangements can make or break a camping trip. We have a self-inflating queen size mattress. These are generally the most expensive option on the market and certainly the biggest/take up the most room in your car, but for our little family, they work the best. We found that air mattresses can be hit and miss in terms of comfort. They are prone to holes and as our children are still young, with four in the bed things gets uncomfortable (picture a jumping castle) really quick as soon as anyone moves!
Take your time testing out as many mattress types as possible before you purchase. Stores such as Rays Outdoors and BCF have very knowledgeable staff to help you and generally big displays. It’s your back, not theirs so take your time and don’t feel pressured. Also remember that regardless of how hot the day is, you ARE sleeping outdoors so it will get cold overnight. Sleeping bags are great if you have them but you can always just pack your own pillow, doona and sheets off the bed at home to save money.
2. The tent
The cheapest options for a family is to stay in a tent. There are so many different types on the market. Canvas are the best in terms of keeping the weather out and protections from the elements but they are a great deal more expensive.
When travelling with kids, I do recommend you have a multiple dome/room tent. You can have separate sleeping quarters and somewhere to hand out if it should rain. I am all for easy as I’m sure you are too – so when buying your first tent, avoid poles and go for PVC Insta Up tents. Coleman make a terrific range of these sorts of tents. I like their Instant Northstar Dark Room tent because its roomy and really has the needs of kids in mind.
When I’m doing anything with my kids, I need both hands free at all times which is why I carry a massive mum backpack and not a lovely handbag anymore. When it comes to lighting and camping, you need two essential pieces; Quality lanterns for inside your tent and headlamps for cooking and those late night trips to the loo. Oh and don’t most importantly, forget the batteries. If you have a good torch at home, then save the money and bring that instead of course. I’ve just never master the skill of the torch under the chin thing.
Again, don’t feel like you have to buy all these fancy pieces of camping equipment when you are starting out. Unless you plan on bush camping (which I don’t recommend for beginners), most campsites will have BBQ facilities at the very least. Many will even have, especially Big4 Parks, camp kitchens (with coffee making facilities) AND the ability to order UberEATS! Just pack some bowls/plates/cups and cutlery, a saucepan, matches, spray oil for the BBQ plate plus cooking utensils including tongs.
You see, you don’t need to buy the store to have a good time. Try buying pieces second hand off eBay/gumtree and Facebook by, swap and sell groups or even borrow what you can for the first trip.
There are also some great businesses now that will come in and set the tent up for you or help you get re-acquainted with nature. Bluegum Bushcamp ReWild your child program is a great one for the whole family. Organised outdoor activities for children age 3 to teens whilst the parents relax!
And finally, if sleeping in tents is too much for you, then try a caravan instead. www.camplify.com.au is like Airbnb for caravans, motorhomes and camper trailers. Arrive at your locations with the van set up and ready to go. What could be easier!
Some great places to consider Camping with Kids around Sydney (and beyond) for all experience levels and family members:
- Lane Cove National Park
- Royal National Park
- Calmsley Hill City Farm
- Cockatoo Island
- Bouddi National Park
- Glenworth Valley
- Bents Basin
- ANY Big4 Park around Australia
- Colo Vale
- Genworth Valley
- Green Patch, Jervis Bay.
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