The Beginner’s Guide to Family Camping on a Budget

The Beginner’s Guide to Family Camping on a Budget

family-camping-kids-tent

If you’ve considered camping but thought it seemed a little complicated let us show you just how simple and affordable this fab family holiday can be!

If you think of the iconic Aussie family holiday, camping always tops the list.

If you’ve however never camped before it can actually seem pretty tricky. What do you need? Where do you go? How do you know where to start? There’s just so many questions!

Your first camping trip can seem overwhelming but, trust us, with some helpful tips and a good checklist it’s as easy as one, two, three… let’s go!

Here’s 9 expert tips to get you started when you’re a camping newbie – it’s the Mum Central Camping 101 Guide!

Tip 1: Research Your Location & Make Your First Adventure an Easy One

Camping brings a lot of variables in terms of location, amenities and availability. When you’re going on your first family camping trip a closer to home, long-weekend stay is the ideal choice. This means less time on the road, more time enjoying the experience and minimal unexpected surprises! If you’re staying in a holiday park be sure to book in advance as many book out over peak periods like Easter and school holidays.

The advantage to a holiday park (as opposed to a national park) is easing in with communal amenities – having BBQ facilities, toilet & shower blocks and a camp kitchen is a great beginning while you learn the ropes. If you’re brave, sure, go the whole hog and try the wilderness (and digging your own loo!) but there’s nothing wrong with a slowly, slowly approach.

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Tip 2: Include Activities for Inside the Tent in Case of Bad Weather

You can’t go past books, colouring books & activities, board games and a deck of cards are good stand-by items in case sun turns to rain and you’re stuck inside the tent. Unless absolutely necessary Lego and puzzles are not so ideal given all those tiny pieces can easily go underfoot or go missing.

If you are not brave enough to opt for a technology-free getaway and bring electronic devices, be sure they’re fully charged. Mobile battery packs are a winner too and the large 10,000 AMPH varieties will always get you through 1-2 recharges without needed power.

TIP: Make sure you make it clear these are ONLY for wet weather situations otherwise you may find yourself in a tug-of-war with technology vs the great outdoors.  

board-games great for camping

Tip 3: Choose the Right Tent for Your Family

Tents are much like houses, some people like a bungalow and others prefer a mansion. The main thing of course is that you all fit comfortably and it’s waterproof! There are several factors to consider when choosing your tent but be guided by your budget, number of sleepers, ease of use and how often you think you’ll use it. If you fall in love with camping and decide to go every weekend from here to eternity you can always upgrade. BIG W is a great place to look for a first tent. A 4 person pop up tent begins at $49 ranging right up to a 10 person, three room tent for $199.

Big-W-Tents

Tip 4: Don't Forget to Pack the Necessities

There’s some necessities you just can’t go without when camping and these always are best stored in plastic tubs to make it easy to pack away when not in use and store onsite when you arrive.

  • Hand sanitiser is a must given most campground toilets won’t have basins
  • Baby wipes for cleaning faces and hands of dirt and muck
  • Sunscreen/chapstick will save you from the dreaded sunburn and chapped lips
  • Sunglasses
  • Insect repellant and citronella candles, especially for night time
  • Torch, Lantern and batteries (bring spares!)
  • Digital camera and spare battery/SD cards
  • Quality backpack suitable also for hiking/walks (bring one for each child)
  • Pocket knife/scissors – for your McGyver moments
  • Zip Loc Bags, Foil and plastic wrap
  • Matches/Lighter plus some firelighters for the campfire
  • Spare plastic bags for dirty laundry and rubbish
  • Repair kit for air mattresses
  • Thermos in cooler months – great for hot drinks and soups
  • Toilet Paper
  • Bucket
  • Layers of clothing, and spare changes for the kids
  • good solid walking shoes
  • sun hats
  • warm socks (plenty of pairs)
  • a good waterproof/windproof jacket
  • Cutlery, crockery and of course some saucepans/frypan for cooking
  • Portable BBQ and/or gas cooktop
  • Plastic tubs for storage and easy transportation

The minute you find yourself in the camping aisles you’re going to get really excited. It’s totally common to immediately want to own everything. Resist temptation to buy a full-scale generator and for your first adventure make sure you’ve got just the essentials.

The joy of camping is in building your gear as you go – plus many of your needs and wants will be ascertained by your travels. Here’s the list of important items for first timers: lighting, a shovel, a basic First Aid kit, bedding for the whole family, an esky or cooler, something to cook on like this twin burner gas cooker, perhaps a camp kitchen to keep everything organised, a table and chairs and something to wash up in.

Need a bit more advice on how to stay clean when camping (and helping keep the kids a little cleaner? Then make sure you read 6 tips for keeping clean when camping.

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Tip 5: Know How to Use Your Gear

This might seem like common sense but when the light is dropping, the kids are tired and nobody’s had dinner is not the time to learn how to put up the tent for the first time. If you can, have a practice run at home when you’re not under pressure, it’s highly recommended. Nothing says stressful family vacation like an argument between Mum and Dad before you’ve even got the tent up! The good news is that modern tents are super easy to erect, but of course practice always makes perfect.

kids-camping-setup

Tip 6: Arrive to the Camp Site Earlier than Later

Camp sites can be hectic over busy holiday periods. As Easter rolls around the night creeps in earlier and there’s less light to get yourselves set up. Arriving earlier means beating the hustle and bustle from escaping holiday road traffic to being set up before the busy-period kicks in!

If you arrive early afternoon the kids can play, you can unpack the car at leisure and there’s no first-timer panic while you set up in the dark. The general rule of all family holidays is that everything takes longer than you expect. From how many times you stop for bathroom breaks on the way to how long it takes to find the tent instructions on arrival always remember this is the moment when more is better!

Be sure to get the kids to pitch in too when unpacking. They can carry items from the car to a set location, setup the chairs and tables, perhaps even help you put up the tent! Involve them in setting up and packing up the campsite and they’ll be all the more richer (and often motivated) by the experience.

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Tip 7: Go with Friends (If You Have the Chance!)

It’s good odds that you’re actually considering camping because you have friends that already enjoy it or you’ve been invited to join in with another family! Always take the opportunity to go with people who’ve ‘been there, done that’. There’s so many reasons why!

Firstly, learn from their experience (and mistakes!) let them guide you as much as possible! Secondly, seasoned campers will own a lot of the basic gear you’ll need and communal or shared camp kitchen set up etc means you’ll need less equipment for your first adventure!

Of course, other benefits include more kids to play with, more friends to laugh with and more people to play cards and have a wine with after dark!

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Tip 8: Being Cold is The Camping Fun Killer

Being cold and wet is the camping holiday fun killer. While you can’t control the weather, you can definitely be prepared to meet it head on! Make sure you have adequate warm bedding and blankets (and thinking about what you’ll be sleeping on), gumboots if wet weather is expected and toasty layers of clothes for the kids. Be sure to anticipate (as best you can) just how cold your destination will be and make sure you’ve got the gear to still have a great time. There’s nothing fun about shivering in a tent!

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Top 9: Bring Your Camera – and Sense of Humour

There’s so many wonderful memories to be made on a family camping holiday. Stripping away the tech devices and experiencing quality time together is absolutely priceless! Bring the camera and capture every special moment you share. Of course, your first camping trip will likely include a hiccup or two so it’s also important to bring your sense of humour! Laughing as you learn is not just camping… it’s life. And remember everyone is new at something once!

family-camping-camera

From us at Mum Central to you we wish you a safe, happy and memory-filled first camping adventure!

If you’re looking for a convenient and affordable store to set yourselves up for your first camping holiday we suggest checking out BIG W. You can head into store to check out the range or conveniently order what you need online and have it delivered right to your door. Happy shopping – and happy camping!

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