So after 10 years of convincing and getting the kids to push too, hubby dearest finally agreed to go camping. Well, almost. As he says I never asked to go, just booked the site and told him the dates. Well, whatever!
Camping is a loose term for a lot of experiences and its up to you what sort of an experience you want for yourself or your family. Since we are newbies with a man who really likes having an en-suite even on holidays and to top it all 2 kids - 4 and 7 years who get bored really quickly, I have high expectations to fulfill.
So the plan is to keep it simple and easy. So to start off, I chose the easiest camp ground possible. Close to shops, eateries, beach, facilities and a 40 minute drive from home! So if nothing goes to plan and everything is horrible, we just pack and head home.
I booked a site at the Rosebud foreshore camp grounds. It is a beautiful stretch of kids friendly beaches on the Mornington Peninsula. Is right next to the Nepean Highway and across all possible fast-food joints and restaurants including Mc Donalds, KFC and various supermarkets like Aldi and Coles. Convenience at our doorstep, literally.
Site booked, the next most important requirement for camping is shelter. You could choose to book a cabin, or if you're glamping, you'd get an already setup tent. Or you take your own tent, like us. Again, there is a world of options for tents. With family you wanna be sure you have a big enough tent to accommodate all members sleeping + additional space for storage and seating.
Tents can be expensive and so if you are investing a decent amount, you should consider these important factors before buying.
- How many persons? As a rule, if a tent says it sleeps 4, consider it can only sleep 3 comfortably. Do not cut corners when you're camping with family. Upgrade to the next size
- Weather proof and sturdy? If you intend to continue camping and throughout all seasons, consider buying a sturdy, good quality tent that can tolerate all weathers and winds. Especially in Australia, weather can be ruthless!
- Seating and storage? wherever you're camping, consider that you or your kids might not want to spend all their time outdoors or cramped-up in sleeping bags. There might be bad weather days when you would need to spend a considerable time inside the tent, playing games or making art, or just relaxing. So its important to consider having that extra bit of space as a living area. This could just mean buying a tall tent where-in you can stand, instead of one you need to bow and crawl into.
Remember, the bigger the tent footprint, more time it takes to set-up and pack-up. So consider what your priority is.
The next important requirement is the sleeping gear. You may choose sleeping mats, sleeping bags, inflatable mattresses or stretcher beds. This is a personal preference based on comfort and convenience.
Stretcher beds keep you off the ground and can be used with sleeping bags and blankets. They can easily be folded and put aside during the day. Since it is our first camping trip and we're only going to get a feel of what works for our family, we were lucky to borrow 4 of these from friends for this trip.
Since we are close to everything, we would be skipping any cooking gear. We'll leave that adventure for the next trip. Also, we booked a powered site, so can take with us convenience appliances such as table lamp, fan, heater and CHARGERS!
The other basics for our camping trip are:
1. Lighting - it can get dark outdoors with only the moon and starts to light the night. Although that is beautiful, you need to have artificial lights handy to navigate to amenities or just walk around the camp grounds. Options include- lanterns, torches, headlamps and for fun - Glow-sticks!! :)
2. Shovel and Hammer - To secure the tent pegs and clear the site
3. Tarp(s) - For tent base or tent cover or creating additional shade or screening between tent, car and/or other camping gear.
4. Extra tent pegs and guy ropes - To secure the tent and tarp in extra windy conditions
5. Table and chairs - You need relaxing space outside the tent, to sit back and relax, eat and just enjoy the surrounds.
6. First-aid kit - Always keep a family kit handy when travelling. Especially with kids and especially when away from knows surroundings.
7. Mozzie-repellants - We've got the spray, the patches and the bands. With my daughter being ultra-sensitive to mozzie-bites, we gotta be extra ready.
8. Sunscreen and Toiletries - Sunscreen is a must in Australian sun. Take basic needs, not a night-bag full of creams and make-up! <:-p
9. Trash bags and Washing up tub - This is basically the cleaning gear. Some rag cloths will be handy too.
10. Esky with snacks and drinks - be sensible!
11. Dinnerware and cutlery - Even though we are going to take away or eat quick food, we might just need bowls and spoons for kids and snacks. Keep it easy, take disposables.
12. Games and Beach tools - For yourselves and kids. Camping with family is a beautiful opportunity to bond. Try and skip the phones and iPads and just enjoy good-old outdoorsy games and fun board-games with the kids. They will cherish the memories for a long time to come. And so will you!
Tonight we pack the car up to leave tomorrow morning. I will share of our experiences as we go, or maybe after. Fingers crossed, it will be smooth camping!