I’ve always had a deep love for nature but rewind 15 years, and I wouldn’t have necessarily called myself a huge outdoorsy type. Similar story with my husband: although he enjoys a lot of things that come with an outdoor lifestyle, he’s not one of those incredibly handy sort of people (like my Dad) that has the ability to make setting up a tent look effortless. So it’s interesting how we’ve discovered the camping path together, and how integral it is now to our family life (I’m sometimes surprised that we can pull it off with four kids in tow!).
As a family, we find ourselves increasingly keen to live more outdoors, because it’s where we all slow down and relax…and a natural consequence of that is connection. Another good thing about camping is once you are set up, it’s (really) cheap! If you have more than two children (and especially more than three) it starts to become even more expensive to go anywhere, plus in our experience, many places won’t cater for a family of 6 or more.
I’m a huge advocate for camping and caravanning in general because, although it takes work and an element of perseverance, the continued benefits to our family are amazing. I guess the important point I want to make here is this: if a couple like us can become huge camping fans (and make it work) then it’s achievable for almost anyone who wants to do it. In light of that, I’m sharing some tips about what we’ve learned along the way, especially in regards to the items we have in two main dedicated boxes to make it easy for us to get away with minimal preparation.
5 Tips for Beginners
1. Tent in the backyard or with someone who is experienced first
2. Start at a camping spot with a lot of facilities like a BBQ, water, power & toilets.
3. Build your kit bit by bit, and customise it to your own requirements
4. Keep it simple. Keep everything simple. If you don’t really (really) need to bring it, don’t. For example, I don’t take sheets for my kids; they have a camping mat with a sleeping bag and pillow. Comfy and simple.
5. Ask others campers for tips.
Our Camping Box
We keep two dedicated boxes all ready to go whenever we go camping. We have a general camping box and a kitchen box for plates, cups and kitchen items. This means I don’t have to try and pull things out of the house when we decide to go camping; it’s all there ready to go which makes packing quicker and easier.
1. General Camping Box
This is what we have in it:
Zip lock & Garbage bags
Dustpan & Broom
Paper Towel & Tissues
Hot water bottles
Light / Torches
It all fits inside this Stanley 55L sturdy container.
Inside the camping box I have more boxes:
Variety of sizes (for whatever we have, like torches etc.)w
- I keep a variety of batteries we need in small clear sistema boxes (labled on the front with a permanent marker)
Dish washing liquid
- Look for more envionmentally friendly cleaning options.
- Keep dishwashing and washing detergent in a zip lock bag to make sure any spillage doesn’t spread everywhere. I don’t tend to replace these because they are a safe guard only (and to minimse waste).
- Most of these items are non-perishables. For perishable items, I put them in the fridge and pull them out or replace the next time we camp.
- It’s great to have this in a separate small box so it can be pulled out in one go when it comes to eating and cooking.
- I find spray oil better because the spill factor is very low.
Tea Towel x 2
Wipe Cloths x 2
- Straight plastic pegs (as shown above) are great because they are not affected by weather and rust and they are slim line so easy to pack.
- When you’re home from camping, wash tea towels and clothes and once dry, put straight back into the camping box so you don’t have to think about it next time you camp. It’s already done.
2. Kitchen Box
We keep another box for our kitchen items. Keep it simple. This is all we need for our family of six.
Plastic Serving Platter
Cast iron Saucepan (we pack this separately because it’s really heavy!)
- Don’t keep bananas in an esky with other food as they can affect the taste of items like bread
- Buy a sharp knife with a cover
- If you keep food cold with ice, don’t put a cardboard egg carton in (it will go soft and the eggs will break). Keep eggs in a plastic camping carton you can purchase from camping places like Anaconda
Shampoo & Conditioner
Hair bands & brush
- Zip lock bags or small pasltic containers are great for sectioning and keeping things organised in the toiletry bag.
- I keep soap in a small Sistema container. The seal lid makes for minimal spillage and because it’s clear, you can see how much soap is left.
4. Camping Gear
All that’s left is the tent and gear. We are fairly extensively set up now so we can go anywhere (with or without power). You don’t need what we have below to get started with camping (we started with a tent, bbq and esky).
This is a camping meal favourite: One Pot Beef Nachos
This is what we have:
Tent – we own a Black Wolf – Turbo Plus 300 Tent – sleeps 6-8 (purchased in 2011 on a fabulous speical)
Tarp (for under the tent)
Large Tarp and fly kit (for outdoor living space)
Mattress (We use self-inflating mats rather than air mattress)
Sleeping Bag (I don’t do sheets for the kids, they have their mat and a sleeping bag for the top with a pillow)
Esky (for food)
Ice Box (as a fridge)
Camp cupboard (we have one like this)
2 x fold out tables (You can find these at Officeworks, Bunnings, Kmart and camping speciality stores)
Small 2 burner protable BBQ
LED strip lights (you can never have too much light!)
Foxwing awning (for the car)
Cheetah roof rack
MSA 4 x 4 roof rack bag
5. Other Items
- Always take a bath mat. I tend to use one just inside the tent
- A flexi tub is awesome for shoes outside the tent
- Old towels
- Picnic Mat
- Large water container (drinking water)
- A Rubber Mat for outside the tent helps to minimise walk through mess
- First Aid Kit – we keep ours in the car.
- Toys and games – Frisbee, tennis ball, soccer, rugby ball, board games (keep dice in a container like this: Travel Dice).
6. Transporting it all
We have a 4-wheel-drive and a small trailer that fits most of our camping gear. The trailer is almost solely used for camping, so again, it’s easy to get away because it’s already packed.
(I put the boogie board bag there to show the size of the trailer).
The Foxwing is great (it’s essentially an awning for the car). We leave it on the car and can put it up in 5 minutes. It’s especially great for pitching out on the beach. You can see it in action here.
We also have a Cheetah roof rack and a MSA 4 x 4 roof rack bag that we can use if we need it.
I looked through these pictures from our most recent camping trip…and it captualates the freedom and joy that it brings.
Camping hair rocks. Just saying.