I remember my childhood camping holidays well. They were always beside a beautiful beach, the sun always shone and our days were full of fun and freedom. I’m sure the reality was very different, but for me it’s those memories – rose-tinted as they may be – that drives me year after year to pack everything into a trailer, hitch it to the car and hit the road.
A couple of weeks of a simpler life are good for the soul – yet so many people make camping so much harder than it needs to be. Here are my top 9 tips for a successful family camping trip:
- Glamping is for everyone: Do yourself a favour and book a powered site. That way you can enjoy fresh coffee and toast in the morning, point the kids towards the fridge to make their own lunches and crack open an ice cold beveridge in the evening while everyone else is spending precious holiday hours walking back and forth to the communal kitchen.
- Take toys: Balls, Frisbees, cricket sets, bikes, scooters, swingball – take them all. Not only will these things keep your kids entertained, they’ll also attract other kids that will keep your kids entertained. It will mean some of the time you’ll have other kids in your tent, but the rest of the time you’ll have the peace and quiet to read that stack of books on your kindle.
- Dustpan and brush. Trivial I know, but the procession of kids trailing through your tent means lots of grass and sand underfoot. Which leads on to:
- Rubber Matting. Perfect for tent entrance ways – especially if your campsite isn’t as grassy as you’d like, or the weather isn’t as sunny as you’d like. Matting like this will seriously reduce the amount of sand/grass/mud/water that ends up in your tent at the end of each day (refer point 2 above).
- Duct Tape and Cable Ties: I swear we could survive just about anything so long as we have these two items. Over the years we’ve used them to fix tents, bikes, toys, jandals, boogie boards and countless other items.
- Salad greens in a bucket: with fresh greens and herbs at your fingertips, you’ll be the envy of the camp ground. You just need to remember to do this 4 weeks before you leave.
- A head lamp. I know – but it’s not a fashion parade and these are extremely practical and useful – for reading, finding things in the tent without waking children and midnight trips to the loo.
- Hand Sanitiser. I don’t usually abide the stuff – preferring good old soap and water. However you may not have a supply of running water at your campsite so hand sanitiser can be useful.
- Let the kids do the dishes: the novelty factor is enough to make them want to do it, plus it’s a chance for them to hang out with all the other kids that are also doing the dishes. They’ll also learn how to flick each other with a tea towel – a skill every kid should have.
- Relax the rules: lower your standards and throw your routines out the window if you want to enjoy your camping holiday. Eating a full sit down meal at the usual time or having the kids in bed by 8pm doesn’t need to happen. Let them roam free (within reason) and they’ll come away with the kind of childhood memories all kiwi kids should have.
Our annual camping trip is the one holiday the kids look forward to the most. The freedom to roam with the pack, play spotlight in the dark and start the day with an ice cream because they’ve biked down to the shops to get husband the paper are memories our kids will always have. Long may the Kiwi Camping tradition continue.