Well, this is a fairly generic question and one that requires some generalisation. There’s many types of camping from family holidays to outback adventures. You may be a backpacker or enjoy day hikes or cycling. Gee, you may even be a glamper! (Glamorous camping for those that don’t know).
Venturing around the country in an RV is also considered camping but I’m not going to include this type, we’re sticking to your traditional tent camping. We’ll mention the RV camping in a future article.
So, lets go through some of the more typical camping adventure types and see what’s required to make this camping trip a memorable one, for the right reasons!
The Tools for Best Family Camping Vacations
To Power Up or Not to Power Up!
Family vacations are a great way for everyone to get together and best of all, get your kids off their devices. So why not book an un-powered camp site so the children won’t be able to power up their devices!
Obviously, this is a big consideration because as adults, we also use devices which have become like an appendage. We can’t do without our cell phones for a couple of hours so what makes us think we can do it for a week. Well think again, many people can. You probably never had a mobile phone 20 years ago and you coped then.
In fact, it is now possible to have the best of both worlds by bringing a small generator with you. If your children are small, then there’s no need to even let them know that your generator can change devices. Tell them to go and find friends, take them for a swim or send them to the playground.
Buying a generator is a great idea for those that decide non-powered camping is their preferred option. Non-powered camping sites are often larger than powered, which tend to be small allotted squares cramped in next to each other. The non-powered are usually at the rear of the camp site and you can often choose where you’d like to set yourself up.
This is my preferred option which allows for us to spread ourselves out more. The generator comes in handy for so many pieces of camping equipment that require power such as lighting, small fridge and of course your cell phones and iPads!
All campers need lighting but depending on your choice of powered or non-powered site, the type of lighting will vary. If you don’t bother with a generator, you can easily get by with a few battery powered lanterns. There’s no need to get a heavy-duty builders lamp, in fact you’ll only cause problems rather than solve your lighting solution.
These powerful lamps are so bright that when trying to have a conversation in the evening, the glare is much too bright, and you will struggle to view who it is your talking to.
There’s a great selection of lamps and lanterns to choose from which are specifically made for camping purposes. On my last camping trip, I picked up a small round lamp which is perfect for hanging above our cooking area. I can simply hang it from the gazebo and a full glow shines down on my whole barbecue and preparation area allowing me to cook in dark conditions.
You will also find several types of lanterns that have various degrees of brightness. These can be turned up or down depending on the situation. I found this ideal when our son was going to bed. We’d put a lantern in the tent for him and have the light setting down to low, perfect.
Camping at Christmas can also fun (unless you’re in Kansas!) so don’t forget to pack some small fairly lights to brighten up your campsite.
Who doesn’t need a barbecue when camping. I often go camping with vegetarians and even they still need a barbecue. But you must choose the correct barbecue, or you will just get frustrated with fixing the old cheapy.
This is exactly what happened to me, I bought a barbecue thinking that the cheaper option would do a similar job as the more expensive one. How wrong I was! It lasted about 4 camping trips before the flames were no longer large enough to cook anything. I tried cleaning it out and piercing the flame holes as I figured they must be blocked. Nothing I could do would help so I threw it away mid camping trip and bought a Weber Q. I’ve never looked back since and would recommend one of these to anyone. You can read about them with the other best barbecues here.
You may see other people with larger BBQ’s, but I’d suggest if your only cooking for you and your family members, you won’t need anything larger than a Weber Q. If your meeting other families on your camping trip, you may want to make sure they have their own barbecue. If they don’t, suggest to them to get one! You’re not cooking for them.
So, a larger barbecue is not required, and it will only take up space that can be used for other equipment.
A barbecue however is an essential item and you would have a hard time camping without one. This is unless you have an RV with all the trimmings, but that’s way beyond what we’re talking about.
Ah yeah, you’ll probably require some sort of shelter! The most important item you’ll ever take camping (should you not have an RV or caravan/camper-van) is the humble camping tent. You’ll also have so much fun going out and purchasing one, especially if you have kids.
Take the family down to the local adventure store and check out all the tents they have available. I can guarantee you that the kids will explore them all and find every nook and cranny of each tent.
But it’s not just the kids that will have fun with this, you’ll be amazed yourself at the advancement in tent camping. You will find pockets for gadgets, flaps for airflow, sunroofs, partitioning and much better water proofing than you got years ago.
The best part about tents today though, is the ease in which they can be assembled. If you remember the good old days of the major tent poles at each end of the basic apex tent, then you’ll be amazed at what is available today.
There are sizes that range from singles to families, durability from mid-range to heavy duty and functionality from minimal to extensive.
The majority of tent structures are not steel anymore, they are made from fiberglass or carbon fiber and the flexibility of these materials allow for strong stability along with ‘give’ when it comes to howling winds. Even though you’re still required to do your due diligence, you’ll still buy a good tent if you shop around.
My advice to you though is to scour the adventures stores and find the tent that suits your situation, then see if you can buy the same one online. There’s a good chance you’ll get it so much cheaper on the web.
Get this right and you’ll go a long way to enjoying your camping trips now and into the future. You can always upgrade as you progress into this camping culture but make sure you buy what’s suitable for your first up trip, especially if you have children.
It sure is hard to camp without food, and all your food and drink needs to be kept cold right! So, you’re going to need a trusty Esky, ice box or cooler box, whatever you call it in the country you live in.
Again, there are multiple choices of esky that vary in cost, starting from basic models that you simply fill up with ice. Adding to this, some have ice compartments that attach to the inside of the lid. Others have dividers, trays or wheels for easy maneuverability
In the more expensive range you can power up your ice box and connect it to your generator. This will use the esky like a fridge meaning you won’t require the need for those bags of ice. Personally, I enjoy filling my esky with ice and having to plunge my hand down in the icy mix to grab a cold beer, there’s nothing like it!
This all depends on the type of adventurer you are. Many family campers are satisfied to plant themselves in a caravan park and just enjoy the surrounds. Others however like to venture off the beaten track and do a family hike.
At least one of you should carry a daypack for carrying supplies such as food, drinks, first aid kit and possibly extra clothing. Don’t go off hiking without this just in case you take a wrong turn and find yourself in unfamiliar surrounds and don’t know your way back. You will be thankful for stocking drinks, especially if it’s hot.
You’ll find that the kids, especially boys, will find a large stick to pick up. They’re either play with it or use it as a walking stick. Which brings me to hiking sticks, which you as an adult will appreciate when walking long distances. There’s a number of benefits to using a hiking pole which you can read about here.
Drink bottles are an essential item which we’ve touched on briefly. These can be clipped to your backpack if you purchase the correct model. Again, there’s loads of different types so make sure you get one that suits the type of camping you intend to be doing.
The first thing you’ll want to do once the tent is pitched, is sit down and have a beer. How are you going to do this if you have no chairs? Camping chairs are so different than your normal household or garden chairs. For a start, then need to be fold-able.
Camp chairs come in multiple shapes, sizes and price ranges and you’re going to need multiple for all family members. The kid’s chairs won’t need to be as stable or durable as they are lighter than us adults, so these are easy to get right. Adult chairs are slightly different and can fold in a number of ways and also come with various accessories, the most obvious being a drink holder.
Family camping is a great way to bond and bring everyone together as a group. We have too many days at home where the kids venture off to their bedrooms with the iPad. Whether you take the devices with you or not, you’ll get so much out of a family camping vacation.
We’ll be adding more essential camping equipment to this post so keep tuned for more accessories.