Some families out there make it look so easy, don’t they? Just hook up the camper with a pre-stocked kitchen, chuck the kids in the back of the car and away they go. But camping can boggle the mind if it isn’t second nature to you, especially when you’re trying to keep kids safe and fed in an environment you’ve never been in before. Thankfully, with a little help and forethought, your time out in the great outdoors can be easy and fun. Here's how...
1. MAKE AND USE A CHECKLIST
It’s easy to take for granted the stuff you have access to at home. But when you’re at camp the challenges are real: can I open that tin of beans and dry those dishes (and not with my track pants)? What if my canvas springs a tear? Thankfully, there are plenty of useful online lists to help you organise yourself. Over time, you’ll tweak it to suit how your family camps and what you need.
In a nutshell: Find a list online, download it and tweak it next time you go
2. WHAT TO TAKE
OK, so you want your family to be comfortable at camp without taking out shares in Rays Outdoors... Why not hire some gear, or see what you can borrow from your camping friends before you go? That way, you can get honest, first-hand advice on how to use it best and proper tips on what you need, without the pressure of spending a truck-load of cash.
In a nutshell: Borrow what equipment you can first, see how you go and then decide what you need later on
3. TEST YOUR GEAR
Red-faced retreats to the nearest service station will absolutely eat into a weekend, so test out all your gear before you go. Figure out the stove, fill up the gas and replace those batteries while in the comforts of home. After all, emergency Swap ’n’ Go refills rarely fall into your budgetary favour. While you’re at it, familiarise yourself with hitching up and reversing into camp.
In a nutshell: Test all your gear before you leave home and practise reversing your rig into camp
4. CHOOSE YOUR CAMP WISELY
Campgrounds vary considerably when it comes to comforts, proximity and suitability for kids. So work it in your favour the first couple of times you go. Can I book in advance? Are there showers nearby? Where can we go if things don’t pan out as planned? And, finally, is it age-appropriate for the kids? Ask yourself: is that beachside camp really the right choice for me and my fearless two-year-old? You can always get more ambitious as you go along.
In a nutshell: Start close, think about campsite risks and ease you and your family into the outdoors lifestyle
5. PLAN YOUR MEALS
The truth is, most first-time campers over-pack, but food is one area you cannot muck around with. It can spoil if you’re carrying too much, so plan your meals in advance and pack a extra day’s worth of non-perishables just in case. Remember, coals take time to prepare so factor this in on any campfire feeds. And keep a meal ready in your freezer at home. You’ll thank yourself, believe me.
In a nutshell: Plan your meals with a few extra non-perishable items just in case