Over the past few years, a lot of people have turned to a good old fashioned camping trip as their holiday choice. Camping and caravanning is a great holiday experience but doing it with kids can present its own challenges.
Surviving a camping trip with kids comes down to planning and the ability to go with the flow. Know where you are going, what to pack and get the kids involved. Once you’ve got it sorted, you’ll love camping as a family holiday.
Tips for surviving a family camping holiday
Yes camping can be fun, but it can also be stressful. A different environment, change in the noises they hear when trying to get to sleep, early wake ups, not being able to separate from each other etc can all lead to a bit of stress. But there are things you can do to ensure a more harmonious and therefore enjoyable camping experience.
You make thinks it’s a great idea to just go for it and travel 11 hours to a remote campsite with no power and water but if you (or your kids) have never been camping before this is going to end badly. Ease everyone into the camping experience by starting off small. Go somewhere within a few hours of home to see how everyone copes with the car ride, sleeping somewhere different and how many things you forgot that you really need.
Try a caravan park with a few activities or a pool to keep the kids entertained, and just see how everyone enjoys it. Some kids (and adults) won’t have any issues with a different bed, environment etc but some will really struggle and it’s much better to find that out within 2 hours from home if you decide camping’s really not for your family.
Make a camping checklist
You will forget things. It happens. But a camping checklist can make that a lot less likely. Work out what you need to take and make a list, ticking things off as you pack them. Think about your living necessities, your clothes, cooking and dining and some things to keep you entertained.
If you need some help figuring out what to take, check out what you need to take when camping with kids. With a checklist you less like to forget the pillows, toothbrushes or your kids favourite teddy that they can’t sleep without!
Unless you’re seasoned campers, make sure you know where you are going to stay each night. There’s nothing worse then having a long day, the kids are exhausted and hungry and the campsite you’ve picked an hour ago to stay for that night turns out to be full when you rock up. Plan ahead, (even if its just by a day or two) where you are going to be staying each night and book.
Don’t bring their best clothes
It’s ok to toss in one set of clothes that are ‘nicer’ if you decide to go out for dinner, but on the whole, make sure you’re packing the clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty. Camping allows kids to play and roam outside, but this generally leads to dirt, mud and sand. Pack things that you know will clean well, or you don’t mind if it gets a stain. This will lead to less stress for you in the long run, as you won’t be worried about what they are doing to their clothes.
Delegate jobs for them
If your kids are old enough to help, let them. Delegate them some jobs, especially at set up and put down time. Things like setting up the camp chairs, carrying their own bags inside or even just holding the rope pegs. Not only does giving them jobs keep them from running around and getting in the way when you’re trying to do stuff, it gives them a sense of belonging and responsibility to the campsite you’re creating.
Have safety rules
We have a set of ‘camping rules’ for our kids which include things like playing where we can see them, not going to the toilet block by themselves and not heading off into the bush without shoes on. Set some basic rules to follow so the kids know what is expected of them.
Bring a fully stocked first aid kit
Things happen. Kids fall over, get bitten by things, or sometimes get sick. It’s important to have a first aid kit handy to solve basic issues. Just in our last holiday we had one child split their chin open, one bitten by mozzies and we went through about 500 band aids. Make sure if they need any regular medication that you put it in as well. What to put in your first aid kit for camping is a handy guide.
Keep the kids routine
This isn’t to say that your kids will have the exact same routine as home because that is virtually impossible. But if your kids go to bed at 7:30, don’t let them stay up to 10pm every night because it’s a holiday. You will generally be doing a lot of things during the day, even them just running around a campsite all day in the sun is tiring, and having too much deviation from their main routine just leads to tired grumpy kids. If they still have daytime naps, make sure they have them too, and keep meal times similar.
Get a tent with more than one room
If you are camping in a tent, rather than a camper trailer or caravan, make sure you have enough room. A one room 4 person tent, literally means you can fit 4 people sleeping in it side by side. What they don’t give you is any room apart from that, so all your bags and cooking stuff really has no where to go.
For family camping harmony, ideally get a tent with more than one room so that you get to sleep in one section and your kids in another. This will also give you a bit more room for your stuff so that you can find things.
Take a Porta-Pottie
If you’re staying in a caravan park or even other designated camping areas, there will generally be a toilet block, which is great. But at 3 am when it’s raining, and your kid is busting to go that toilet block is a long way from your campsite. A porta-pottie is a great option to have in the corner for those situations. We have one with us in the camper trailer that only comes out at night or in heavy rain, when you really don’t want to try and wrangle kids off to a toilet block in the dark.
Going on a family camping trip can be an amazing experience and a lot of fun. But if you haven’t been before it can take a bit of time to get organised in the best way to ensure you have everything you need. With a bit of preparation, you can survive a camping holiday with kids without stress and have a great time. Remember to enjoy the adventure and creating fantastic memories for you and your kids.