Camping can be a lot of fun, but for first timers, there are some tips that could make a difference. Sleep is important for kids and parents – particularly in a busy campground. Try and book a site in a corner so you’re not surrounded by other happy campers. Also, don’t take a site right next to the amenities block. It might be good for midnight toilet breaks, but the constant stream of people and the very early risers will drive you bonkers.
To make the most of your sleep, borrow or buy a decent mattress. We have a double self-inflating velour mattress and it has come in very handy for us, as well as several friends. It is useful for sleepovers. For younger kids, a stretcher is a good idea, since it gets them off the ground. Sleeping bags are great as long as you’re not in a really hot climate. Remember to pack pillows – use them in the car, too.
On to tents. I recommend borrowing a friend’s if you are trying camping out for the first time. In fact, borrow as much as you can. There’s no point in spending a fortune on all the camping paraphernalia until you know you are going to make proper use of it. Once you decide to take the plunge, buy a bigger tent with ‘rooms’, so you’re not all on top of each other and you have somewhere to store luggage, food and so on. An annexe is also advisable for dining purposes, a drink of wine after the kids have gone to bed, or for husbands who snore!
A good camp stove is advisable – a three burner if you can, as well as lanterns and all the bits and pieces you need for cooking and eating. If you don’t want to bother with all that, most campgrounds have barbecues, or you can survive on takeaway fish and chips. A fold-up camp table is useful, and throw in cheap fold-up chairs as well. You can always keep them in the back of the car and use them at kids’ sporting events too.
It is worth taking a broom or a dustpan and brush, especially if you are near the beach. It is a right royal pain in the you-know-where to have sand through absolutely everything. Mind you, sand is better than mud. Mud and camping do not go together at all … and that’s where a villa with TV comes in handy!
There are two absolutely essential things that you can’t leave home without. One is your children’s favourite sleeping toy/bear/blanket, and the other is a first aid kit complete with sunscreen, medicines for headaches, something for upset tummies, antiseptic, bandaids and Aerogard or Rid for mozzie or sandfly bites.
Another tip is to buy Gregory’s Caravan and Camping, a guide covering the best camping and caravan spots in Australia. It’s a comprehensive guide covering 50 routes and over 1000 towns and locations, and contains information on how to travel safely and all kinds of other helpful hints. Don’t go anywhere without it. The book is available from all good bookstores, priced at $29.95.
When off camping you can get carried away and take everything, including the kitchen sink. You have a choice – wear yourself out packing up half the house to take camping, or make a list and take the bare minimum. If you choose the latter, make sure you go camping with a friend who takes everything. I know someone who takes a cappuccino machine and an egg poacher to aromatic candles and dip platters. No wonder they were the most popular people in the park!
If you’re intending to use an inflatable boat on your camping holiday, be careful not to over-fill the boat with air, especially in warmer weather. On hot days, the air in the boat will expand, and if it’s too tightly inflated, the seams in the fabric may not be able to take the strain, and the boat may deflate at the most inopportune moment! Tip from www.kangarootentcity.com.au
There are some handy websites for campers; visit www.greatoutdoors.com.au and www.camping.com.au