Most people think that kids and camping can’t go well together and that there’s no way it could ever go harmoniously, but it can! Even though many parents fear taking their kids on a family camping trip as there are so many variables and so many things that can go wrong, it’s still possible to turn this trip into a true adventure that will leave you all with fun memories. If you’re still sceptical about how this can be done, here are several tips to help you pull it off.
Being prepared reduces stress
It’s always hard for kids of any age to endure long journeys cooped up in a small space, so they’ll inevitably get tired, anxious, irritable and start asking you how long it is until you arrive. Despite all the books, games and gadgets you pack for them, there will be some ruckus in the back seat. The first step in reducing your own stress is simply accepting this – it’s always been like this, for generations, and it always will be. What you can do next is to prepare beforehand – set up certain expectations regarding the trip, inform them of its length, show them the map and explain the route. This may not stop the annoying questions, but they may at least have a better understanding of your trip. It’ll probably be easier with older kids as the younger ones still have no clear concept of distance and time, so make sure you make frequent stops along the way to stretch your legs, get some fresh air and alleviate restlessness.
When it comes to packing for the trip and getting all the necessary equipment, bear your family’s needs in mind. Pick a tent that’s large enough to accommodate everyone, and that can be easily put up. Or you might even prefer to have two smaller ones, especially if you have teenagers. Be prepared for all sorts of weather. It’s important to check the climate ratings on your sleeping bag and to make sure you bring wet weather gear, such as raincoats, boots and a weatherproof fly for the tent.
Warm clothes are an absolute must, as well as your first aid kit, iodine tablets for purifying water, a sewing kit, extra rope and some heavy-duty tape for quick fixes. Finally, make sure you bring lots of activities for the kids to keep them interested, such as books, cards, board games and colouring books. Avoid puzzles and Lego as all those little pieces can get easily lost. Bring a portable battery charger for all the kids’ devices but limit their use – you’d want your kids to experience the outdoors, learn new things and not spend their time playing video games.
Pick your time and spot
School holidays and long weekends are quickly booked in advance, so if you want to secure your camping spot, do it early. It’s better to avoid school holidays anyway as it tends to be quite chaotic then, but public holidays are different. Australian campsites often give great affordable deals on these dates, and as much as it gets busy then, the atmosphere can feel almost like a music festival.
Regarding your camping spot, in case you’ve never done it before, consider going to a caravan camp where you’ll have easy access to electricity, water, showers, laundries and convenience shops. Camping in rugged and remote regions often means you’ll have a harder time getting water or help in case of an emergency.
Nothing’s more important on your camping trip than staying safe. It would help if you covered many aspects – packing the right clothes and shoes, making sure you all drink purified water, having enough food for everyone, having your first aid kit within reach and teaching your kids basic emergency procedures. In addition to all this, you’d want your vehicle to be a reliable factor while out in the wild, so having car insurance really makes sense. Before you set off on your trip, talk to your insurer to see how much coverage you get. It should typically include cover for accidents, natural disasters, fire, theft and emergency roadside assistance. Knowing your car is safe should take one worry off your mind and allow you to enjoy your camping.
Get the kids involved
Getting the kids involved in almost all the aspects of your family camping trip will get them more interested, and it’ll be easier for them to take on more responsibility. When you get to your campsite, have your kids assist you with setting everything up and give them small age-appropriate chores they’ll be doing while you stay there. Also, let every kid have their own backpack to pack a water bottle, tissues, sunscreen, sunglasses, a headlamp and snacks. This will make them feel self-sufficient and confident when you go on a hike, plus you won’t have to drag everything yourself.
The memories you make with your family will be cherished for many years, and even if you hit a few snags now, there’ll always be the next time to improve!