A few weeks ago our family went camping. As our family is bigger than others with six people, camping has always been a great way for us to go away but not have it cost an absolute fortune. When we go camping we usually go with our cousins which means that everyone can have even more fun than with us.
I like to think of our version of camping “glamping” because mum refuses to camps anywhere without a toilet and shower. I know that many people think of tents and the bush when they think of camping but our version is always much more fun.
We go places that have a pool or beach and usually has a jumping pillow or trampoline. The best part about camping though is being able to spend time with your family in an environment that limits use of technology and the Internet.
As hard as it is for some of us to part with things such as our phones or iPods, especially for teenagers like me, I know that sometimes it’s good to take a break and just relax. I’ve been camping since before I can remember so it’s always been something that I’ve been used to. However, I know many people have never been camping so I’ve decided to give you five helpful tips for surviving your first camping trip.
1. Don’t over think it. Camping is just like going on any other holiday as longs as you think it is.
2. Make it a challenge. If camping is an idea that frightens you then just think of it as a challenge you have to overcome.
3. Choose somewhere comfortable. For families with kids it’s always easier to go somewhere with a playground or anything that can entertain us kids.
4. Go somewhere familiar. I’m not saying you should go to the caravan park around the corner but I am saying go somewhere where you know there are things in the area like Lorne or Wilson’s Prom.
5. Have fun. Holidays are only as good as you make them so put in the effort and I can promise you’ll have a blast.
I was never a camper growing up. In fact, we didn’t go on many holidays when I was a child as being one of five, money was tight and my Dad worked too many hours. When I met my husband, he had grown up camping every Christmas at Shoreham with his parents and brother. That’s where our camping passion as a family began.
Before children, we use to free camp at Echuca every Easter with a group of friends. No showers, no toilet, open fires and lots of partying. Since having children, I refuse to camp with all the basic necessities like toilet, showers and coffee shop. I have camped when Ash was 10 months old while pregnant with number two. I have camped with four children when the youngest was only 8 weeks old. I think I can proudly say my kids have grown up with camping in their veins.
One of the main reasons I like camping is it forces me to slow down. The atmosphere when you camp is very different from staying in a hotel. Don’t get me wrong, I love resort holidays too but with 4 children and the costs involved, we can’t do this style of holidaying all the time. When camping you mingle more with others, relax with an afternoon wine in the outdoors, actually play with children and learn more about your family as conversations are a big form of entertainment.
As camping is not for everyone, I will give some tips to those who would like to give it a try… it can be an eye opening experience:
1. Don’t over pack. I still get this one wrong but essentially, if everyone has a simple bag with a few changes of clothes, you should be right. It is important to pack something warm for the nights as we have been caught out a few times when the weather is hot during the day, forgetting that night times can be extremely cold.
2. Camp with the essentials. If you are a first time camper, make your life a little easier by camping where there are toilets, showers, BBQ’s and a little entertainment for kids. If find if my children are in water, they have no time to argue and the entire experience is enjoyable for everyone.
3. Food, food and more food. I always have enough food so that the kids ( and myself) are not searching for sugary snacks throughout the day. When we camp, we are pretty active, especially hanging out in the water, so everyone tends to eat more. Being organised with meals and snacks means Mum (and Dad) can sit and enjoy the holiday too.
4. Take time for yourself. It’s not always about the kids. They tend to rule the time spent at the pools or beach or trampoline etc, but it is important to take time to sit and read your book (or trashy magazine), go shopping on your own, sneak off to the pub with Hubby for a quiet drink for an hour. As camping involves sleeping, eating and staying in a small confined space, time out is essential. This way everyone enjoys the holiday.
5. Enjoy the kids. I have never been a Mum who plays with her children. However, when we camp I actually play with them. It’s at night time that we all cook together, play UNO, cards or Rummikub, talk about the day and catch up on each others lives. With no television to distract us (like in hotels), we bond again as a family. I cherish these times.