Have I ever told you that I love camping? I mean really, really love camping. Camping has this magical ability to transport me to a place where all of my to do lists go out the window and it is me and my family and friends and nature. It really is my favourite.
I grew up in a family that did a lot of camping so as an adult it is something I am use to. Every Christmas my family would head to the Sunshine Coast for 4 weeks to camp and swim and have fun. When I think about taking my family camping for 4 weeks I have no idea how my parents did it haha. Every year we do a 2 week camping holiday which is great but it is my limit in terms of how long we can camp with our 3 kids.
When my husband married into our family, camping wasn’t something he had done much of before. He grew up going to holiday apartments with his family. It took him a few years to get use to the experience of camping but he would now claim to be a sold out lover of camping. Yes, he is now one of those guys who visits the camping store the day before we head out to buy just one more thing to add to the gear.
It is interesting hearing him speak about the difference he has experienced camping with the family vs staying in apartments. He has admitted to feeling much more connected with the kids and our family while camping, much less distracted by technology and more present to just hanging out, being and playing.
Some of the best and most meaningful chats I have had with my family have been while camping. At nights we often sit around a fire or the camp table with no TV to distract us and just talk night after night. Crazy idea I know haha.
We would both admit the setup and the pack up is a lot of work but nearly every single time we go camping we walk away from it feeling more connected with our kids, our extended family, friends and each other. The other way I look at it is sometimes the best things in life require a lot of work. I want my kids to learn that some things take lots of effort initially and are not fun, fun, fun to begin with but hard work pays off in the end. It is one small way I get to teach my kids this simple lesson and I literally talk to them about this during our setup and pack up and I know they get it because if you ask them if they would prefer camping or going to a resort they will pick camping every single time.
Where possible we try to organise a camping trip with either family or friends as we have found it makes it that bit more enjoyable for everyone and the load is shared more. The kids have someone to play with during the day so it is not 100% all on us plus we have someone to drink wine with around the fire and play cards with in the evenings once the kids are in bed, which is always a highlight for me.
Over the years, I have learnt a thing or two to make camping that little bit easier so I thought I would share some tips, tricks and hacks.
- Put Everything Into A Container / Themed Bag
In the past, I have had a tenancy to just start throwing things in the boot of the car as a loose item. Not exactly sure what I was thinking. Hubby is more structured and organised when it comes to packing for camping so told me one day he would only camp if I packed everything into themed boxes and containers for ease of packing the car and finding things. Once I started doing this everything became a whole lot easier.
- Bunk Beds
There are 3 kids in our family so 5 in total to find space to sleep in a tent that requires either a very large tent or creative sleeping arrangements. A few years back we invested in some bunk beds and they have been an awesome space saver for us.
- Make Sure You Have A Car With Good Boot Space
On our most recent camping trip over the Easter holidays to Kenilworth Homestead, we had the chance to take along a Nissan X-TRAIL and test out what it had to offer the camping family. It had really great space in the boot to fit lots of what we needed for our trip. If you do intend to be a camping family then you need to have a car that will fit the bill. Ultimately, when you get more serious a tow bar and trailer become part of the equation and the X-TRAIL is a great choice for that. We found the X-TRAIL to be a fabulous car to drive both on road and off road. The steering was as light as a feather, the reverse camera made it super easy to park and position in reverse for setup and I felt safe knowing I could see the kids both in front and behind when driving around the campsite.
The other thing about the X-TRAIL is it has an awesome cargo and folding system for the boot which enables you to configure it all different kinds of ways depending on what you are needing to pack or transport.
If you were needing some extra space in the boot to transport larger items the back seats can fold down in a number of configurations allowing some great options like transporting some kayaks as pictured above.
Not only that it has a removable false floor in the boot which has a hard plastic container beneath it enabling some great storage options for things like wet towels and togs.
- Packing Cubes
If you are looking to save space then packing cubes are the bomb. Each family member gets their n own cube to pack their clothes in and you would be amazing how much stuff you can fit in them and space you can save not having bulky bags for clothes.
- Good Coffee
It doesn’t matter how remote we go camping we can always make sure we have good coffee. Invest in a stovetop espresso for camping and you will never drink bad coffee camping again.
- Mobile Battery Power Supply
One of the best products I have ever bought was this battery supply pack from Aldi. It has enough power in it to recharge my phone 4 times after it has gone flat. On our recent camping trip which was 3 nights and 4 days in the bush with no power both hubby and I used this to charge our phones and it still had some charge left in it when we came home. Best Product Ever!
- Plan Super Easy Meals
Cooking while you are camping does not have to be hard work. I have my 3 go to meals that are pretty much the same every time we got camping for 3 nights, which is a common long weekend camp for us. We always have spaghetti bolognaise the first night that I have cooked in advance and just need to heat up. This works really well as we are often tired the first night from all of the setup so it is a super easy meal. The next night we have tacos or burritos (the only thing you need to cook is the meat) followed by pesto pasta (pasta, pesto, bacon, mushrooms). Bacon keeps for a long time so it is a good meal idea for the 3rd night if you only have an esky and ice to keep your food cold.
- Glad Bags
Glad bags are a camper’s best friend. Every camping trip you need to take a pack of these amazing zip locked products. They are so handy for so many different reasons. Nowhere to put left over food you don’t want to throw out? … glad bags. The great things about glad bags is they are waterproof so if your ice is melting and you have excess water in the bottom of your esky and you put your food in glad bags then nothing gets soggy and wet. They are great for dirty nappies, wet togs and socks and undies from kids you need contained … and the list goes on!
Camping is hard work to begin with but overtime you get better at pulling it all together and creating systems that make life a whole lot easier. If you have had a not so great time camping in the past, don’t give up there is hope that there will be a smile on your face as you drive home one day.