Leave your screens behind and venture off in your camping rig for a nature-filled getaway with the kids. It sounds like a fun combination, but camping with kids can be a challenge if you’re not prepared.
For city-life children that have grown up in a more heavily scheduled, electronic entertainment environment, camping can offer a fantastic bonding activity. One the whole family can enjoy too. From road tripping Australia’s outback, learning to fish, discovering bugs, building tents and cooking, camping with kids encourages kids to explore creativity. And it’s an experience everyone should try at least once!
The joys of camping can lose some of its shine when things go wrong. Whether it’s forgetting to pack vital equipment or struggling to keep the kids from chucking tantrums, here are a few hints to help you and your children have the ultimate camping adventure:
1. Practice Putting the Tent up at Home First
Putting up tents can be a mission if you don’t know what you’re doing. Before your camping trip, set up a ‘camp under the stars’ night for the kids at home for a trial run. This will provide the perfect excuse to get them to help and make sure you have everything you need. It’s amazing how many essential tent building parts can get lost on past adventures! You can never be too sure.
This will give you the opportunity to test the air mattresses too. You don’t want to find yourself at the camping grounds with leaked airbeds or tends that don’t have all the attachments.
2. Invest in the Right Camping Gear
The best camping adventures are equipped with the right gear. First and foremost, make sure you invest in a quality camping rig designed for your needs. Camping with kids requires something with more space and storage. Remember, it’ll be your home-away-from-home for the journey, so comfort is key.
If you’re after something more durable and comfortable than a tent, soft floor camper trailers offer a good solution. These are especially ideal for camping with kids because they allow you to add more space and compartments, which comes in handy for an expanding family. Camping is about spending quality time together, but understanding the need for space and independence is vital for a successful trip too.
Don’t forget to create a checklist of all the essential camping gear too, so nothing important is missed. Every child should have their own flashlight, warm bedding (even in summer, camping nights can get chilly) and the right clothing. Use clear tubs to pack kitchen supplies, food and snacks, sleeping bags and/or bedding, clothes and laundry, music entertainment and toys, and water activity stuff. Be careful not to overpack. Don’t forget, clothes can be re-worn so leave the ‘just in case’ items at home and focus on packing for all kinds of weather instead. Other essentials include first aid kit, camping lamps and tarps to provide shade and prevent the camping rig or tent from getting too dirty.
3. Be Smart about Camp Location
Where you choose to go camping can make all the difference for your outback adventure. If it’s the first time taking the kids, go local and somewhere relatively easy. Camping near or in designated campgrounds will give you better access to toilets, showers and power. But it doesn’t mean you need to miss out on the remote wilderness our country has to offer either.
Where you will go will be largely dictated on the season too. Consider just how much roughing you and your family are also willing to take, whether off-season or peak is best and what’s nearby in terms of facilities, activities and things to check out. WA is full of beautiful places to check out, so finding the perfect place to suit the time of year and your needs should be fun and easy.
4. Keep Food and Drink Simple
There’s nothing like a dinner over a campfire for an atmospheric cooking experience with the family. Keep packed food and drinks simple with things that can be easily reheated and plenty of snacks. If you’re getting into the full camping adventure, cooking fresh fish for your camp dinner is a delicious substitute to that ‘back home’ lifestyle. Make sure you bring plenty of aluminium foil to roast the fish if you plan on catching something tasty!
Invest in a two-burner gas cooktop to make the cooking experience easier. Bring an esky or portable fridge for your camper trailer to fill with easy-to-cook camping food, like hot dogs, hamburgers, tacos, sandwiches, roast spuds and pre-made pastas – anything that involves little washing up is great! Don’t forget to toast some marshmallows and heat up some hot chocolate too. The trick with camping with kids and food is to cook ahead of time and in bulk. The more you prep ahead, the fewer dishes and tantrums you’ll have to deal with in the wilderness.
5. Go with Friends
Camping with friends can be a good way to break the kids into the adventure. Most kids have more fun when they’re with their peers. This is a great idea if you only have the one child or the age gap between kids is larger. Whilst you still want the camping experience to be a bonding time with family, having friends around can definitely add to it. It also means you the adults can help each other and split up meal responsibilities. Having a group of friends can make entertainment and stories by the campfire at night more entertaining too.
6. Get Your Kids Involved
Just because your camping in the outback, it doesn’t mean the regular rules don’t apply! Give your kids small chores when camping, like collecting firewood or sticks to burn, being in charge of toasting marshmallows for all or helping to build the campfire. Not only does this enrichen the camping experience for them, but it gives them a sense of job well done and independence in a new environment. Especially with young kids, stick to the same bedtime rituals and nap schedules to encourage a good night sleep.
Camping with kids doesn’t have to be a nightmare! Instead, use it as a fantastic family bonding activity. Disconnect from the city life and invest in Australia’s outback and everything it has to offer.