Camping for Beginners: The Real Mum’s Guide


Ahh, camping. Time away from the house. No laundry to fold, no floors to vacuum, no tables to set. Just you, the kids, and the great outdoors.

Sounds great. Sign me up. LET’S DO THIS.

But, first, allow us to make sure you’re kitted out and ready for ALL the adventure that awaits.

Get camping sorted

We’ve put together our go-to camping guide to all things outdoors. If you’re a first-timer, don’t leave home without reading this. In fact, even if you’ve dug out the tent 100 times, we still recommend having a look.

So, without further ado, our camping guide to making your camping experience a flippin’ fantastic one.

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Don’t forget the marshmallows! Source: Bigstock

What are we packing? 

Wine. Lots of it. Seriously, a whole box of wine. And coffee. Panadol might be a good idea too, just in case.

Plus these camping essentials:

Camping checklist

The big-ticket items

  • Tent or swags
  • Tarp or portable gazebo
  • Portable BBQ and/or gas cooktop
  • Camping chairs and table
  • Somewhere to store the dry food – a portable pantry or a plastic sealable tub
  • Somewhere to store the cold food and drinks – a portable fridge, or esky
  • Air mattresses

mum centralPRODUCT PICK:

The Wanderer Quad Fold Camp Cart – aka the greatest camping invention for parents is a MUST for camping.

It’s an off-road wagon that carries all your kids’ sh*t, plus your kids too. It folds down, comes with an umbrella for shade, and easily plows through sand, dirt, grass, the works. Well worth a look for any camping or day trek.

THE ESSENTIALS: Don’t even think about leaving home without them

  • Hand sanitiser
  • Sunscreen
  • Chapstick
  • Baby wipes
  • Insect repellent/citronella candles
  • Pocket knife/scissors – for your McGyver moments
  • First aid kit
  • Torches and batteries
  • Camping light
  • Phone and phone chargers
  • A good backpack or bag for day outings
  • Water bottles for everyone
  • Sunglasses
  • Matches or a lighter
  • Toilet paper

Cooking gear (food and drinks not included)

  • Salt and pepper
  • Oil
  • Baking paper & Alfoil
  • Ice
  • Ziploc bags/storage containers for leftovers
  • Dishwashing liquid and cloths
  • Paper towel
  • Bucket (for washing up)
  • Knife
  • Cutlery and crockery
  • Cups
  • Thermos for hot foods
  • A pot/pan (depending on what you’re cooking)

Bedding, bath, beyond

  • Bedding for all beds
  • Pillows
  • Towels
  • A toiletries bag with shampoo, soap, conditioner, deodorant, anything else you deem essential (mascara COUNTS okay)
  • Clothing for everyone
  • Sun  hats
  • Spare rubbish bags (great for rubbish and to put dirty/wet clothing)
  • Rain  gear (just in case) plus rain boots/closed in shoes (great for keeping feet clean after your nightly shower)
  • Good walking shoes for outings plus socks

Toys and games

  • Water toys if you’re near a lake, creek or waterway (inflatables, boogie boards, kayaks, goggles, snorkelling gear etc)
  • Sand toys if you’re heading to a beach (shovels, pails, etc)
  • Life jackets or stinger suits (if you’re in the tropics during stinger season)
  • Board games/cards/activities for inside the tent in case of rain or during downtime
  • Bikes or scooters (if you can fit them)!
  • Fishing gear (if you’re planning to attempt to catch something)
  • Walkie Talkies are great for the kids to play hide and seek or for you to keep tabs on them while they’re out adventuring

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mum centralINSIDER TIP:

Invest in a few plastic tubs with lids to store your camping specific items.

  • One for cooking gear
  • One for essentials
  • One for toys/games, and
  • One for bedding/etc.

This makes it much easier to unpack, pack up, and make sure you have everything. Plus, your camping gear stays dry if it rains and you can simply put the boxes in the garage or garden shed until the next trip. Easy done.

Where are we going?

Probs not far to be honest. Because we all know how unpredictable the borders are right now.

Plus, when it comes to camping, it’s often better to stay close to home and explore your own backyard. If the weather takes a major turn for the worse, it’s nice knowing you only have a 3-hour drive with muddy kids and wet dog smell rather than a 10-hour trek.

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Camping is an amazing family holiday if you know what you need! Source: The Blonde Nomads

Bush or holiday park?

Totally up to you. The advantage of a holiday park is easing in with communal amenities – having BBQ facilities, toilet and shower blocks and a camp kitchen is a great beginning while you learn the ropes.

Going full bush camping is always an adventure but you need to be comfortable with roughing it and pooping in the woods. Don’t forget the TP.

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Heading to the coast, inland or to a holiday park? Source: Supplied

mum centralINSIDER TIP:

Before you go, test out your gear. Make sure you know the camping light works, everything fits into your vehicle, and, most importantly, that you know how to set the tent up.

The last thing you want is to arrive at your destination and not have a bloody clue how to put the damned thing together. Trust me, it happens. And you’ll want to stab your husband with a tent pole when it does.

mum centralPRODUCT PICK:

Avoid the tenting fails with the wanderer Kalbarri Instant Tent. It comes in a four-person, eight-person or 12 person option and is literally a breeze to set up thanks to the instant frame. Choose from a one-room or two-room design (privacy is a thing, even when camping).

We especially love it for summer camping as it’s light, airy and comes with a large front vestibule that doubles as an awning for extra shade protection. Definitely a winner for family getaways!

What are we eating?

Okay, the gear’s packed and we’ve got our location. Now, the next question in our camping guide – what’s for dinner?

Here’s the “semi” annoying thing about camping. You still have to do all those adult-things. Like cook. And clean. You can’t just sit under a tree and drink wine and read a book. Well, you can, but you’re gonna need to throw some bread at the kids at some stage.

camping chicken foil pack recipe
Just because you’re camping doesn’t mean you won’t eat well! Source: Supplied

Truth be told, camp cooking is actually fun, especially if you like a challenge. You’re away from your regular kitchen mates (microwave, stove, oven) so it’s time to test your true blue bush tucker skills. Let your inner Russell Coight out.

So, what’s on the menu? We recommend easy camping meals such as:

  • Mac & cheese
  • Snags on the campfire
  • Toad in the hole
  • Pancakes
  • Spaghetti
  • Chicken and veggie foil packs (image above)
  • Kebabs – anything you can whip up on a BBQ!
  • And, of course, s’mores!

camping smores recipe

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Aim to eat dinner before it gets too dark out. There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to wash your dishes in a creek or plastic bucket in the pitch black, especially after a few drinks.

Better still, make a deal with the kids – you cook, they clean.

What are we doing?

Bushwalking? Fishing off the riverbank? Floating down a creek in an inflatable swan? Day drinking while the kids make mud pies? Tick, tick, tick, and tick.

Camping is all about enjoying all that nature has to offer. Have a look at the local activities in the area. There may be waterfalls, parks, museums, and other tourist hot spots to check out.

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But nothing beats spending time just chilling out at the campsite too and exploring as a family. We always aim to do four things when camping – a bit of fishing, a spot of swimming, a family hike where NO ONE WHINGES ABOUT IT BEING HARD, and some sort of water sport (kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, etc).

Pack for down-time activities too – cards, puzzles, books. I always pick up a new crossword puzzle and colouring-in book for the kids to do while we’re having quiet time.

mum centralINSIDER TIP:

Sometimes camping can be a proper sh*tstorm. We’ve been through the lot. Forgotten essentials. Massive storms. Broken tent pegs. Attempting to replace said broken tent pegs with a tree branch. #fail. 

The best way to handle these ‘adventures’ is to just go with it. You’re going to get dirty, probably a bit wet, but you’ll also have a trailer full of memories and laughs. Totally worth it.

Gear up at BCF

BCF is the place to be when it comes to camping. And boating. And fishing. But especially camping. We love this place and highly recommend a squizz at your local BCF before venturing out on any camping trip.

You can shop all things camping online or head in-store.

shop now

This is a sponsored post for BCF
Avatar of Jenna Galley

Born and raised in Canada, Jenna now lives in Far North Queensland with her tribe. When the mum-of-three is not writing, you can find her floating in the pool, watching princess movies, frolicking on the beach, bouncing her baby to sleep or nagging her older kids to put on their pants.

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