There is nothing like getting away in the great outdoors, being with nature and unplugging from the hectic, fast paced life we have all become accustomed to. Camping is a great affordable holiday option for the whole family and something that we love to embrace.
As a full time travelling family we spend a lot of time outside - camping, hiking, fishing and exploring in nature. It is a great opportunity for our little ones to learn, get down and dirty and take in the world around them.
To help you enjoy camping as a family we have listed a few helpful tips that we have picked up along the way.
Planning your trip
Checklist - Create a camping checklist or source one off the web to ensure you have all you need. I still have memories of our first family camping adventure as a kid where dad forgot the can-opener!!!! Back then, ring-pull cans were not around so it was a very interesting meal of chips and bread for dinner that night!
To help you with your packing list we have created a great rundown of camping gear in our 'Camping Like A Boss‘ article that you can find here.
Baby steps - If you are just starting out with camping or you are embarking on your first adventure with your little ones in tow, you may want to choose a location that is closer to home. The short travel time and knowing you can just pop home to grab that can-opener is a nice safety blanket. In saying that, you still want to make sure you are far enough away to enjoy some peace and quiet.
Check the weather - Hopefully you won’t be planning your camping adventures when gale force winds or rain is predicted but sometimes these things are out of our control. Having a little foresight may help you be prepared if and when the weather turns sour. By packing some extra pegs, poles and a tarp you can help keep the rain off your tent as well as batten down the hatches so nothing blows away! Also take note of the wind direction and consider this when setting up camp.
Include the kids - We find getting the kids involved in the planning and packing process is half the fun! We take the time to explain our camping plans and show them on a map where we are headed, what we will do and the animals we may see.
A trip to BCF to pick up any camping gear needed is also a fun family outing. We let our mini Blondies pick their own camp chairs and sleeping bags which they loved! You could even set up your tent in the backyard with them for a trial run.
Pack child friendly - Take the time to consider the kids and what will make their camping experience fun. Pack old comfortable play clothes for them as they are guaranteed to get dirty. Leave their pyjamas at home and simply put them to bed in tomorrow’s play clothes. Gumboots and rain coats are great to bring along as well as sand buckets, bug catchers and outdoor adventure gear.
With a busy toddler to wrangle we also like to travel with a high chair. It is great to use not only for meals but to clip them in for safety and peace of mind around camp fires, away from any crawlies, or simply to stop them running wild around the campsite.
Setting up camp
Choose a flat campsite - There is nothing worse than sleeping on a hill! Whether you are pitching a tent or sleeping in a camper trailer or caravan it is best to set up on a flat area. If there is a bit of a hill that can’t be avoided, set your tent up so that your head is up hill. If you have a camper/caravan be sure to bring along a small level and use some wheel ramps to help make you level.
Consider the environment - While searching for that flat spot, you may also want to scan the area to make sure you are not going to set up camp on top of an ants nest, or wake up underwater when the tide comes in!
Kid proof - Take a minute to look around and consider any potential hazards. Can someone trip over the tent pegs or ropes? If so, you could tie some ribbons on them. If you have a campfire you could pop a few rocks around it to prevent the kids getting too close. If there is deep water close by set some boundaries for the kids so they know it is a no-go zone unless an adult is with them. If you have a little baby or toddler you could use a baby gate or play pen.
Embracing the great outdoors
Encourage creative play - Leave most of the toys at home! Mother Nature provides the best tools. Help your mini adventurers embrace what’s around them. Let them climb trees, paint rocks (with water and a paint brush), make magic potions with mud, leaves and sticks! There are so many possibilities and when left to it, the natural environment will supercharge their imaginations. Don’t forget to get involved too - take the kids fishing, go on a nature walk or play hide and seek!
Go with the flow - Stick to your daily routines as much as you can but don’t sweat the small stuff. Let them explore, get dirty and stay up to see the stars. Camping is new and exciting for your little ones so they may take a little longer to settle at night, or it could be the opposite and they hit the hay early thanks to all that nature play and fresh air.
Fostering a love of camping and the outdoors by taking your kids camping will not only provide them with amazing childhood memories, but you may just inspire a lifetime of adventures for generations to come. Happy Camping!
Fun Camping Hacks
- Pack your gear into clear plastic tubs so you can keep the dust and crawlies out and it can also double as a bucket bath for the kids.
- Use interlocking foam matting for your tent floor and doorway
- Invest in some packets of ‘wet-ones’ to keep the kids clean or even better make a ‘cleaning station’ with a bucket of water, soap and a towel for your mini adventurers to use throughout the day
- Bring along a shoe basket to keep at your tent door