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.
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Deb @ Home life simplifiedMarch 31, 2014 at 10:28 am
Fantastic post Kel – thanks so much – will be pinning and emailing to hubby! xx(and love that pic of you and your daughter)
Deb @ Bright and PreciousMarch 31, 2014 at 10:39 am
Such great tips, Kelly. I’m scared of camping, but your tips for beginners made me think it may be possible one day. Bookmarking this post for future reference!
katepickleMarch 31, 2014 at 12:50 pm
This is a FAB post!
We want to get back into camping again now that we are not spending every waking hour renovating, but it has been a few years and another child since we have been so we need to restock and reorganise and this is so helpful~
KatieMarch 31, 2014 at 1:39 pm
LOVED this post… We are heading out this Easter for first camping trip… We have a 2 & 3 year old and I can’t wait! This post has given me so many tips! Xx
DorothyMarch 31, 2014 at 3:04 pm
You make it look so easy! Great post for future reference. It’s certainly great to be organised.
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ReneeApril 1, 2014 at 5:25 pm
I LOVE camping too Kelly, although our family is a little hardcore & we go ‘bush’ so to speak (so we BYO showers, toilets etc). But when we started this is EXACTLY what our kit looked like, we’ve collected our camping gear over YEARS, lots of Christmas & Birthday gifts from lots of family members. It really is as difficult or as easy as you want to make it, we have different gear for different conditions & on how long our stay is, so even though we have a camper trailer I’m forever repacking it….lol…
For anyone starting out, MY HOT TIP is to seriously check out ebay & gumtree for good deals on basic camping kits, you’d be surprised what you can save 🙂 Some people are selling an entire kit (tent, mattresses, tarps EVERYTHING) from a few hundred dollars, a cheap way to get started, then you can upgrade if you want something more tailored!
Jane BarnesApril 5, 2014 at 9:48 pm
Great article. I love camping and went as kids with Mum, how she packed everything into a tiny trailer and then 5 kids in the car was amazing! Our daughters get to camp in the bush and by the beach, usually free camping. Summer always involves sleep overs in the tent with friends in the garden.
We recently bought a 21 year old ‘Dingo’ camper. Looks like the flying nun when set up and is on a 6×4 trailer. Sleeps 2 each side. It’s as ‘posh’ as we get and love it. I always pack the little black plastic solar showers too, great for a quick rinse off. Well done on your articles, always a good read! Cheers.
HeatherApril 6, 2014 at 5:46 am
Good tips Kelly! Back in my youth I was an avid backpacker/rough camper. As I have aged (suffered back injuries) and married I like a few more luxuries, but still quite rough compared to this. Now we have 2 kids…1 1/2 and 3 1/2. Husband and I have been talking about how we would like to start taking the kids camping once the little one is fully toilet trained / night time trained (in process now , so maybe next summer). These are really great tips for family camping. A lot I have already put into use in years past like having prepacked gear, which definitely makes it quick and easy to get going quickly. I will for sure be saving this list as reference to get us going on our first family trip. 🙂
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nealeSeptember 7, 2014 at 1:37 pm
Kelly great tips and an awesome post. I had never thought of the water bottles, as I haven’t seen one in 40 years 🙂
ThashSeptember 8, 2014 at 4:12 pm
Thank you so much for this – going camping with my two young kids and hubby for the FIRST time ever (I have never been camping before – hubby has) and this post has helped so much. We’re going along with experienced campers and only away for 2 nights but sooo excited and looking forward to it – thanks for this awesome post 🙂
Kelly Be A Fun MumSeptember 9, 2014 at 8:13 pm
How exciting! Hope you have a wonderful, wonderful time!
KylieSeptember 18, 2014 at 6:21 pm
Oh my goodness Kelly, I just made your taco recipe and honestly it is amazing! I was a little worried my kids wouldn’t eat it but nope, all 4 had seconds! Amazing! I made tortilla wraps in the Thermomix and together they were a hit! This is going to be a regular in our house!
Thank you so so much
Kelly Be A Fun MumSeptember 19, 2014 at 7:13 am
Oh good! It’s so yummy. I once made it for a group of 20 of us camping (13 kids) and everyone loved it (even with the baked beans). Thanks for leaving a comment. x
KellieSeptember 28, 2014 at 1:49 pm
I am OCD and probably more of a ‘glamper’ than camper. Like my friend Kelly, camping was not on our radar. The not so handy husband (love you darling), the OCD wife and to add to this 3 bed wetters, simple did not look good for us, but we are now 6, so holidays are costly, except for camping ones. Three of us are busy boys plus the big boy, it just made sense. So we followed Kelly’s list of ‘to do’s’, went shopping and set ourselves up (with a few borrowed things, thanks friend’s and family ?), packed (lots) and set off. Our first solo trip. We are headed to an unpowered site by a creek for 5 nights. Yes there are toilets and hot showers. Yes town is close by, but a holiday for us means stopping. So with 6 days worth of ‘all we need’ (I hope), this is it, our first camping trip. YIPEE!
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SerenaApril 14, 2015 at 3:14 pm
We are setting up right now for a 12 week trip through QLD and to Cape York. We have camped a lot in the past but the kids (10 and 7 yr girls) are new to it.
Just ordered the trailer, just bought the tent.
Your photos and lists are SOOOO useful thank you!
Kelly - Be A Fun MumApril 14, 2015 at 5:51 pm
Oh, have the BEST time! How exciting!
Hilary DarcyApril 29, 2015 at 11:51 pm
Love this article! I have never been on a camping and I don’t know what luggage to pack. My four-year old son wants to go on a camping and we should do something about it. Yesterday my husband told me that he has already bough a tent and this weekend we are on a camping. Hope that we would handle the whole nature situation!
Kelly - Be A Fun MumApril 30, 2015 at 5:34 am
Hope you have a great time Hilary!
JustinJune 17, 2015 at 11:29 pm
When taking eggs camping Crack them into a baby bottle, they travel well and are ezyer to keep cold in the chilly bin.
Kelly - Be A Fun MumJune 18, 2015 at 10:14 am
Are they hard to separate?
off road box trailerSeptember 10, 2015 at 11:12 am
If you derive lots of excitement and fun out of camping, then you probably frequently go outdoors during weekends or holidays with family and friends. When one has the option to camp at the most remote areas, then he can do activities like hiking, biking and mountain climbing, which would not be possible otherwise.
Pinar ParryDecember 21, 2015 at 10:44 am
I stumbled on this blog after an unsuccessful camping trip with our kids (a 4 night trip cut down to 1 night!) where we packed way too much of what we didn’t need and not enough of what we needed (aka lighting) and looking for inspiration on how to do it better. We will be having another shot at it next week and re-assessing how to pack our gear. Thanks for the tips!
Kelly - Be A Fun MumDecember 22, 2015 at 1:40 pm
I’m glad you’re not giving up totally! Camping isn’t for everyone but it’s worth another shot!
JenniferApril 8, 2016 at 10:27 pm
One of the most informative and useful posts I’ve read. Thank you so much, has helped me prepare for our family of six’s first camping trip in a week’s time. Fantastic, well-rounded and down-to-earth blog!
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Erika JayneMay 10, 2017 at 8:07 pm
I always let my kids spend time on blending into nature. It does help enhance their body physically and emotionally. It doesn’t matter what outdoor activity you are passionate about or your skill level, nature is always a part of us.
Thanks for the useful tips, dear & keep up the good work.
Whitley BeltronNovember 26, 2017 at 9:20 pm
Just seen this great article if you are ready to plan your holidays for next year. Have a look, its good to know.
Catherine MackayAugust 16, 2018 at 4:03 pm
I’ve just come across this blog. Great advice! We are taking our 2.5 year old son camping this Christmas and even though my husband and I are seasoned campers the thought of doing it with a toddler is a bit daunting. These are great practical tips and have given my the confidence to think the holiday will be a success…well most of the time!
AbdulJanuary 12, 2021 at 11:29 am
great post Kel – thanks so much for sharing this resource with us. are ready to plan your holidays for next year? please let me know.
Xtreme TrailersJanuary 21, 2021 at 6:19 pm
Well explained! Thanks for sharing this. It would be of great help to many planning their camping trip.