Camping with Kids for a Month
Holidays are a great opportunity to get away and bond as a family. With a family of six, we’ve found the most affordable way to do this is by going camping. Imagine not having to rush anywhere; waking up each day and asking everyone what they FEEL like doing and planning your day around those things; not having to answer any emails/calls; NO to do list; your kids having a technology/screen detox and being happier; siblings becoming best friends; to feel so connected as a family that you just feel happy all the time! This may seem unrealistic, but we have experienced it! Earlier this year we went camping with our kids for a month and bonded in a way we never have before. I believe this is how connected we are supposed to be all the time. Some people think camping is uncomfortable, but it doesn’t have to be. Besides, the payoff of becoming a close knit family is SO worth it! I personally believe that it takes three weeks to get to the state of ultimate relaxation. Here are some tips for how we managed our camping holiday:
-Wear bathers during the day, pyjamas at night (less washing!)
-Have treats in the car that everyone can have on the hour for all day car trips
-Have a morning/evening list for kids to follow, e.g. put bathers on, eat breakfast, brush teeth, etc.
-Make dinners before you go. I made the same seven meals four times (enough for a month) and froze them in zip lock bags. We then just had to warm up dinner on our gas camping stove and just cooked up rice, potatoes or pasta to go with it. We had cereal for breakfast and sandwiches or leftovers for lunch.
-Teach the kids how to help set up and pack up. It is a team effort and praise the kids when they help out. It took us a while to figure out the best way to set up/pack up, but the more you do it the more efficient you get.
-Borrow lots of audio books from the library before you go. You can even use Borrow Box so you can download audio books directly on to your iPhone. Our kids especially loved the ‘Mr Gum’ series read by Kate Winslet. I saved the hilarious audio books for all day car trips.
-Buy books from country op shops as you travel. Much cheaper than city op shops!
-Stay in a caravan park from time to time to use their washing machine for a few dollars.
-Visit the visitor centre! They can tell you what activities there are in the area.
-If you don’t have it, borrow it! We wanted to see if our kids would like snorkelling before investing in snorkelling gear, so we borrowed some from friends.
We have been collecting camping gear over the last couple of years. Now we know we can easily go camping and have everything we need. While we were in the process of collecting our gear, we just used to go camping with friends who already had everything. If you go in a group of families you can each bring something the other doesn’t have and put your supplies together. We did invest in a few things to go camping for a month. My suggestions:
-Invest in a camper trailer. We bought it with our tax return and waited until we found a bargain. Ours was customised and only cost $3500 second hand. The guy selling it was just getting too old to use the ladder and there was nothing wrong with it!
-Invest in quality tents. Our OzTent literally takes 1 minute to put up! Great when you arrive somewhere after dark.
-Invest in a camping fridge/freezer and portable solar panels. We put all our precooked dinners in the freezer. This freezer can convert to a fridge by adjusting the temperature. We also have an ice box esky. If you don’t have a fridge you can just use an esky and top up with a bag of ice every day from the nearest shop. Ice lasts longer in the bag.
-We bought a DPAW annual National Parks pass. If you’re visiting a lot of national parks it is cheaper to buy a pass than pay every time you visit a park. You may need to book ahead in some locations, for example the Ningaloo Reef, but it is VERY affordable!
-We bought the Wikicamps App where heaps of campers review the places they have stayed so you can be prepared and know what to expect.
It is now a family tradition that we go on a family holiday each year for at least three weeks! My eldest daughter Ash will be an adult in seven years so we want to make as many happy family memories as possible before then! I wonder how much closer and happier people would be if they made it a priority to take time off every year to just spend time together? Do you have any family holiday tips?