Camping can be a great adventure. It’s a simple, cheap holiday. There’s romance in a campfire and an easy meal. There’s joy in listening to the sounds of the night as you lie in your sleeping bag. But for all the joy there can be pain and misery if you are ill-prepared. Follow the tips below for an enjoyable camping experience.
“Try not to arrive at dusk so you have to pitch a tent in the dark.”
Tip 1. Pack for all weather. It doesn’t matter if it’s supposed to be sunny and 28 degrees for your entire trip. If you are going camping, you must be ready for every single type of weather event. Trust me, I know. Our first family camping trip was to the Cathedral Ranges, one Easter. We had borrowed all the equipment, bar the sleeping bags. We thought we were prepared. And then the weather turned. It started to rain. The temperature plummeted. The tent began to sway in the wind. The four of us huddled up in the tent, ready for a long night. Salvation came in the shape of our generous friends who lent us some blankets.
Tip 2. Take a jumper. Take a raincoat. Take hiking boots. Take thongs. Throw in a beanie. Bring a towel. Bring your swimsuit. These are the basics. But I will stress: Bring several jumpers and extra socks. The extra jumpers will provide layers when you are shivering in your sleeping bag halfway up Mt Feathertop.
Tip 3. Choose two people to set up the tent and take it down again. Arguments over tent set-ups can get ugly. I recall one trip where it took 8 adults over two hours to put up a new tent(The instructions were in German). Try not to arrive at dusk so you have to pitch a tent in the dark. If you don’t believe me, try it.
Food and drink
Tip 4. Pack far too much food. It’s better to have too much than too little. Take more water than you need. Take lots of alcohol. The same trip I mentioned above to Cathedral Ranges was the one time when my husband decided to forego alcohol. That lasted one miserable night and resulted in a mercy dash to Alexandra to the bottle shop and to buy more socks. (see Tip 1)
Tip 5. Make a camp roster. One person to cook and two to wash up each night. It sounds fun to have everyone helping, but too many cooks can result in someone sulking in their tent. Encourage everyone else to sip their wine, listen to their downloaded podcast, and read their book. You can pre-prepare some of your camp meals at home. Lots of camp-cooking tips on my Pinterest camping page.
Tip 6. Lock up your food when you’re not using it. Food must go into animal-proof containers. I’ve had food stolen by everything from kookaburras to wombats. Lock it all away in the car or the trailer.
Tip 7. Don’t worry about showering. Camping means that you are going to be constantly dirty. Embrace those filthy feet. Plus, you’ll probably be swimming at the beach or in a river or lake fairly regularly.
Tip 8. The most important thing to do on a camping trip is to realise that things will go wrong. You will be at the mercy of the weather, the wildlife(don’t pitch your tent on top of an ants nest) and each other. Keep your sense of humour and do remember to pack those extra jumpers.