This sort of goes without saying, but it needs to be said. It is SO much more enjoyable to plan and execute a camping trip if you’re prepared. I have to admit that I’m a last minute packer, that means trying to grab everything at the last minute and throw it into bags and tubs and load it into the car with a flurry of “mum can I take this” and “where are my shoes” and “Matt…. have you seen _______ (insert a long list of things right here!)”. I’m the first to admit however that this is NOT the best way to start your camping trip.
We love camping across Australia with our kids, and lucky for us, our kids for the most part, seem to like camping! It may have something to do with the fact that they all started camping at only a few weeks of age and it’s been a part of our lifestyle their entire lives. While this advice is targeted toward shorter family camping trips, if you’re heading off long term it can definitely help you too.
1. Pre Packed Camp Gear
If you’re regular campers then I can suggest that keeping allocated tubs of camp gear stored and ready to go is a sure fire way to make packing as easy as it can be. These tubs should be organised (labelled if you’re into that!) and full of essential items that you drag along each and every time you go camping. An example is keeping a kitchen tub full of plates, cutlery, cooking utensils, frypan, tea towels etc, etc. Another useful tub if you camp regularly is non perishables such as sugar, tea, coffee, tinned and packet products that you always seem to use, oil etc. One more idea is to keep your first aid kit either in your car or ready packed and handy. There’s plenty of other things you can store pre-prepared that will save you time.
2. Lists & Notes:
Lists: If you don’t camp regularly or are a little disorganised like we are sometimes 😉 then it pays to make lists. Lists are your friend! The only way I manage to survive the “last minute pack & run” when we camp is to have lists preprepared that allow me to check things off as I throw them into bags and the car. You can create lists for everything and almost every camper I know has pre-prepared lists to help them ensure they don’t leave behind essentials. Main list ideas are: 1 list for each member of the family, a list for cooking items, a list for tent/accommodation/bedding, a list for electricals, a list for pets if you’re taking them, and anything else you can think of!
Notes: Australia is a big country and if you’re heading into new regions, or even if you’re visiting an old favourite destination there are some things you should note down before you head off on your trip. Where is the location of your campground? Where is the nearest town? Directions for how to get there (step by step), a contact list of emergency or important numbers for the area, meeting times and numbers of people you’re meeting up with. It might sound primitive to make notes (I recommend on paper) but the reality is that there isn’t always mobile phone service, and what if something happens to your phone or gps device and you don’t know details. It’s important to stay safe!
3. Essential Items
There are a couple of vital things we always take with us on a camping trip, so here’s a quick list of essential items we recommend you pack during your preparations, we find that these things may not be on the top of everyone’s list but they are really handy. If you’re going on a long term trip of course these items will be important but there’s many more you need to add. This list is great for short camp trips.
- Torches – enough to go around (one is generally NOT enough)
- Sewing kit – has many purposes but most people don’t carry one
- Batteries!- Easily forgotten and needed for many items (especially torches)
- Water – If you don’t have your own water storage bottles, grab at least a 10 litre container/s from your local supermarket
- Washing up tub – Don’t forget this, it makes cleaning up so much easier!
- Toilet paper – You have no idea how handy this is until you need it and don’t have it!
- Billy/Saucepan for boiling water along with a sharp knife and chopping board (makes life a whole lot easier)
4. Pack Smart – Don’t Overdo it
Even after years and years of camping experience we still tend to over pack. Now that might not sound like a bad thing right? But in reality, for short camp trips if you pack it to take it with you, you have to unpack it when you get home. for longer trips, you really don’t want to be carting around excess “stuff” it not only adds to weight but takes up valuable room too. Going back to step 2 will help reduce the risk of overpacking somewhat. List all the essential items you will need for each family member and try to stick to this. Tips for packing smart include:
- Know the weather forecast and pack accordingly
- Don’t take excess toys – your kids will have much more fun if they can explore nature without being tempted by things from home
- Research facilities – When we camped at Copeton Dam we didn’t realise there were hot showers and carted our gas water heater unecessarily!
- Pre-plan your meals – have some idea of what you’ll be cooking and resist the urge to pack excessively, especially true for perishables!
5. Plan your arrival time
This little gem can make all the difference to how enjoyable your camping trip is believe it or not! Be sure you know the approximate travel time to your destination, and plan to arrive in daylight! We’re pretty experienced at setting up camp in the dwindling light, or even dark but can definitely tell you it’s so much easier and faster to set up in daylight! Another consideration is the time of year you’re camping. If you’re travelling over the holidays or during a popular camp season, then you can be sure that there will be plenty of other campers looking to nab the best spot too, so if you’re going somewhere there’s likely to be crowds, give yourself plenty of time to get there and get a great spot, or if possible book ahead and request any specifics you might need if possible. It’s always a good idea especially when travelling with kids to plan to arrive when it’s not a major meal time, if you can’t escape that, then be sure to have an alternative easy meal planned or good snacks to get everyone through until camp is set up.
What are your tips for Camping Preparation? We’d love to hear in the comments below!