Camping with your children can be a fun holiday for the whole family and a great way to create memories that will last a lifetime.
From bushland to beach, Australia arguably has some of the best camping spots in the world. With hundreds of campgrounds across the countryi, there is sure to be a great destination for your next family holiday. Whether you are a seasoned camper or a first-timer, adding children into the mix will no doubt be a new experience. Here are some tips for keeping everyone safe and happy during your family's camping holiday.
Plan, plan, plan
Camping can be a fun family getaway, but keep in mind that many other families are likely to have the same idea. Camping areas such as Booderee National Park on the NSW South Coast often fill up well in advance during holiday periodsii so booking ahead of time should be one of the first things on your list.
Jotting down a packing list and planning out the meals you intend to have while camping can go a long way towards getting the trip off to a good startix. Few things are worse when camping than forgetting to pack the tent pegs or the barbeque utensils and not realising until you've arrived at the campsite and are unable to purchase any spare supplies nearby.
Being aware of fire danger ratings, total fire bans and evacuation protocols for your camping area before setting off on your journey is important in keeping you and your family safe and informed in the event of a bushfire emergency.
Pick a child-friendly location
Consider the amenities you will need such as hot water showers, a communal kitchen area with barbeques and whether or not you need drive-in access to the campsiteiii. Pet-friendly campsites and campgrounds with playground areas could also be a consideration for your home away from home. If your children are early risers, consider looking for less crowded locations so there will be less chance of disrupting your neighbours before the rest of the campground is awake.
Anticipate the unexpected
Packing plenty of sunscreen as well as wet weather gear will help to ensure that you are prepared for rain or shine. Plastic wet weather ponchos are a great option for camping because they are lightweight and don't take up much room in your bagiv. Extra pairs of socks and a few spare changes of clothes for your children are also good to have on hand, just in case a mud puddle or creek are too invitingv. Extreme temperature differences from day to night can occur, especially in outback and alpine regions, so packing plenty of warm clothes and blankets, even during summer, is highly recommendedvi,vii.
Manage your travel time
Camping often involves a road trip. Even if you are comfortable driving for long periods of time, your children may not be happy with sitting still for so longviii. Consider packing books and travel games, mounting iPads or tablets in the car, or playing interactive games such as 'I Spy' to help keep your children entertained during the drive.
You could also plan a few fun stops along the way to check out interesting tourist attractions or enjoy a picnic at a roadside rest area. This will give your children plenty of opportunities to stretch their legs and can make the journey much more enjoyable for everyone; it can also assist with preventing driver fatigueiii.
Managing your travel time also helps to ensure that you arrive at your destination with ample daylight to unpack and set up your campsite, reducing the chances of losing tent pegs or setting up your tent in a less than ideal locationix.
Children will be children so a few scrapes and bruises can happen. Packing a first aid kit equipped with the usual items such as bandages, antiseptic cream, alcohol swabs, insect repellent and a few additional items like instant cold packs will help to give you some peace of mind in the event of a minor accidentx.
It's important to be aware of any fire bans in the area and whether or not open fires are allowed at your campsitexi. Burns are a common injury while campingxi, so making sure that your children know the dangers of playing with or lighting fires can reduce the risk of a camping trip cut short. Many campsites will also have their own regulations regarding campsite and fire safety so it is a good idea to check with a staff member or property manager upon arrival.
Keep the children occupied
During the day, activities like scavenger or treasure hunts and hikes can keep the dreaded phrase "I'm bored" at bay. With a bit of imagination, small chores such as collecting firewood or getting fresh drinking water can also be made into games, making them seem less like work and more like an adventurev. Night time can be even more exciting for children, playing tag with a torch or toasting marshmallows after dinnerxiii. Camping is also a great time to stargaze, especially if you are in a location with no trees, buildings or ambient light to disrupt your view of the sky. Even if your camping holiday is meant to be tech-free, the SkyView app available for iPhone and iPad is simple to use and doesn't require an Internet connection, making it a great companion for remote camping locationsxiv.
Campsite rules and etiquette
Even though camping is a time to let your children run around and get messy, being respectful of others camping near you shouldn't be overlooked. Why not have a quick chat with your children about some of the dos and don'ts of campsite etiquette such as making sure they walk around other campsites not through them and keeping voices down at night and early in the morningv,xv.