Go by car
The most convenient way to go on a camping trip is by car as this way you will have enough space to pack all your camping gear and supplies. Choose a location within easy driving distance to ensure you don’t have cranky kids by the time you have to set up camp. Pack sufficient snacks, this will also keep them busy during the drive and give you time to put up the tent before you have to feed them. Another factor the keep in mind is the time of year and the weather, as a wet camping experience can leave everyone in a bad mood.
Book your spot
It is better to reserve a campsite rather than just showing up and risk being disappointed. Nowadays you should be able to book and pay online for camping sites and most of the time you will also be allowed to choose your preferred spot. Camping is much cheaper than staying in a guest house or bed and breakfast and this way you will be able to extend your holiday.
Pack the right gear
This is not supposed to be an expensive vacation, so try to borrow what you don’t have from friends and family. People who love camping usually don’t mind sharing equipment.
Here is a basic list to get you started:
• Sleeping bags, pillows
• Sleeping pads / blow up mattresses
• Firewood (if the campsite allows campfires)
• Clothing in a variety of weights
• Fire starter (lighter, matches)
• Food, utensils, plates and napkins (Paper plates make things so much easier)
• Gas stove and pots
• Drinking water
• Sturdy shoes
• Wet wipes
• Garbage bags
• Board games
• Playing cards
Keep meals simple
Keep breakfast simple, like coffee and rusks, cereal and fruits. A potjie is a great meal for a camping holiday. Start early in the afternoon to ensure there is enough time for the food to be ready by dinner time. And the best part is the leftovers, so make enough. Potjietastes even better the next day!
Pitch your tent as soon as you arrive
The sooner you get this out of the way, the sooner everyone can relax. Make sure you don’t have to set up camp in the dark, as this can prove to be a difficult task. You will also be thankful when the night gets chilly and you want to crawl into bed and everything is ready and cozy. Another tip is to take a walk to the bathroom with the children so that they are familiar with where it is located.
Set safety rules
Excitement can lead to children running off and exploring the area, so it is important to set a few rules and safety guidelines. Remind them not to wander off without telling an adult where they are going. Find out what kind of wild animals or snakes live in the area and warn kids about that. They should stay away from open fires and warn them not to eat anything growing in the wild.
Let the kids explore
One of the best parts about camping is letting the kids explore and invent their own games. Allow them to get dirty and enjoy the outdoors. Here are a few fun ideas:
• If there is a river, this is the ideal time to teach the kids how to fish.
• Send them on a treasure hunt, where each kid has to find certain items like a specific coloured leaf, a bug, a number of twigs or rocks. This should keep them busy for quite some time. A good idea is to reward them with a prize when they come back successfully.
• Make souvenirs. Let them choose a rock or stone or a beautiful leaf. Turn the stone into a piece of jewellery by wrapping wire around it and attaching a string of leather to the wire so that it can be worn as a necklace or around the arm. Dry out a beautiful leaf or flower and make a bookmark. This way they will remember their first camping trip.
Make dinner around the campfire a family event. Tell stories, jokes and play games. Talk about the day’s activities and don’t forget the most important part: the marshmallows!
Do you have any tips for camping with the kids?