With the Easter holidays approaching, how many of you are planning on camping? Better yet, how many are planning on camping with the kids?
Last Easter, we went as a family (with a group of friends) for the first time with our three year old and eighteen month old. Moreton Island, on the beach, no amenities… Interesting but fun!
We then went to Fraser Island this January, by ourselves. I must admit, I was nervous – and that’s an understatement. Yet, surprisingly, it wasn’t as bad as I expected. Mind you, this time we were in the enclosed camping grounds with toilets and hot showers. Phew! But here’s some of the advice I was given which, I am sure, saved my sanity!
1. Make a list and check it (more than) twice. An enjoyable camping trip (especially with kids) depends on your organization beforehand. It’s the simple things that can make it or break it: insect repellant, matches, toilet paper, sunscreen, tea towels, torches, oil spray, paper towels, plenty of baby wipes, plastic bags, pegs, first aid kit, sealable containers, soap, ponchos, fire starters, local maps, tide times…
2. We invested in a light/fan you can find in BCF, Anaconda, etc, particularly because we were camping in the middle of summer. This definitely helped our youngest have a nap in the day, which certainly benefited us all!
3. Keep the kids busy. When you’re not out and about exploring, make sure you have plenty of activities for the kids like totem tennis, soccer ball, and swimming toys. Don’t forget to be prepared for wet weather too. Board games, colouring in, jigsaw puzzles, deck of cards and activity books. We all know when they are happy, we are happy.
4. Freeze milk and water in the bottles. This can be used as ‘ice’ until it melts and can be used for drinking.
5. Buy a length of shade cloth to place at the external entrance to your tent. This helped to keep the tent reasonably clean as the sand, dirt, grass and leaves get shaken off onto the cloth before entering the tent. The cloth can then be swept and kept clean. Also keep a dustpan and brush, bucket of water and a towel near the tent to ensure clean feet upon entering.
6. Plan your setup considering orientation (remember that western sun) and breeze flow, as well as having plenty of space for kitchen, dining and lounging areas.
7. Allow at least two hours of daylight for setting up.
8. Have a meals plan and bring pre-cooked frozen meals. Some of my camping favourites include spaghetti bolognaise, chicken stir fry, bacon carbonara, etc. I save until last any meals I can cook from tins, like tuna pasta or tuna mornay on rice. Tins of tuna, corn, and peas, add carrot, make a white sauce, mix it all together and there’s dinner. And if you have a weber, a home cooked roast and vegetables. Yum!
9. Pack plenty of clothes for the kids including clothes for all seasons. They tend to go through it all!
10. Depending on the age of your kids, get them involved in the set up and pack up and daily camping chores. This not only keeps them busy while you’re busy, but it gives them a sense of ownership in the experience. Great memories are made by doing things together.
11. Don’t have any expectations that your kids will follow the same routines they follow at home. They might wake two hours earlier and not have their standard two hour daily nap, but that’s ok. I think. If you try to fight it, you may just go crazy. And, at the end of the day, at least they’ll crash at bedtime.
12. Most of all, remember to have fun together. In the end, that’s what it’s all about.
What other sanity saving camping tips have you heard? Please share!