Camping for families is a fun and adventurous time and is the perfect excuse to get out of the house and into nature to unplug and enjoy quality time as a family. But with kids in tow, there's a lot to think about for parents, especially if you are new to camping, and the answers are not often found in one place.
In this article, we have collated all of the family-related tips and advice from this website and other sources to help you camp comfortably, travel safely with your family, and, most importantly, have a great time.
So, whether you are a city slicker or country bumkin, newbie or veteran, or tent or RV camp, there are plenty of camping tips for families here.
Camping for beginners: Our top tips
We have a whole other article on camping tips for beginners which is essential reading if you are new to camping altogether, although some of it is repeated in this article.
That said, here are our top 10 camping tips for beginners:
- Plan your camping setup as well as your trips.
- Start with a good editable packing checklist.
- Camp with friends and share the load.
- Include open-air undercover shelter.
- Buy well and buy once, borrow or buy second hand.
- Test your gear beforehand.
- Plan your meals and your menu.
- Choose an established campsite with facilities.
- Avoid bad weather.
- Sign up to the Camping Kickstart Program:
> Reduce the trial and error
> Save time and money
> Reduce frustration
> Go camping like a pro in as little as 28 days
Camping with kids: Our top tips
For parents, camping is often about taking the kids camping rather than for their own personal benefit because of it's many benefits for children and the family.
And it's definitely not all fun and games for the newbie parents who are still navigating the basics.
Here are our camping with kids tips:
1: Manage your expectations:
Family camping trips are definitely not going to be the relaxing resort style of holiday you might have experienced in the past. You will rarely find yourself with the opportunity to sip cocktails by the pool without a care in the world. Camping does come with its challenges, and adding a child or three to the mix can really emphasise that.
A simple mindset change can really help to take a lot of the strain out of camping with kids. Adjust your expectations and go with the flow rather than getting too caught up in relatively minor things like deciding they are going to play out in the rain or invite 5 of there newest bestest friends over for a play date.
2: Set the boundaries, routines and chores for the kids
Don't worry, we WILL get to the fun stuff, but it is important to get the rules in place before the kids think going with the flow means it's a free-for-all for them.
They might not know it but setting boundaries and sharing chores around is good for them and they generally respond well to them.
Boundaries and routines also facilitate a more harmonious and cooperative camping experience for the whole family as everyone chips in and has their role to play.
In my experience, rules often fall by the wayside when they are not applied consistently, such as if you cave in and just do it yourself in the name of expediency. So be calm but persistent and consistent!
Its a good idea to try to also replicate as much as possible the chores and routines followed at home, especially for younger children. That said, they are pretty adaptable and will often respond well to different rules for different situations.
Depending on their age, some chores around camp could include:
- Preparing a certain meal or lunch snack that they know how to cook
- Collecting drinking water
- Taking rubbish to the waste bins
- Helping set up and pack up camp, with smaller kids constructing or take down furniture or hold poles up while you deal with the pegs
- Recharging camp lighting and other devices
3: Include the kids in the planning process
In the planning process, involve the kids in planning your activities and your menu. As well as that, outline any expectations around chores and other responsibilities.
Familiarise yourself with the activities they can participate in at the campgrounds, including local "what's on" information sources, and make sure you have all of the things you need to be able to participate.
Kids love having a say in the menu as well, so ask them for their food suggestions, including snacks. We have several favourite camping meals that we don't cook at any other time, which makes everyone look forward to them even more.
4: Teach them about campground etiquette
Often kids can get so excited about camping that they forget that the walls are thin and the neighbours are only a metre or so away.
While we want them to be kids, one of the more important camping with kids tips is in relation to campground etiquette. A simple early reminder to them about the right way to behave can go along way towards a more harmonious campground, including:
- keeping the noise down early in the morning
- not walking / riding through someone else's campsite
- trying not to send stay balls into other people's campsites, and if it happens apologise and be polite when asking for it back.
- cleaning up after themselves in the shower block and camp kitchen
Hopefully others in the campground inclined to party after dark will show the same consideration and courtesy to you and your family!
5: Prioritise health and safety
Camping is lots of fun, but it isn’t without its inherent safety risks. To minimise these risks:
- Maintain a well-equipped first-aid kit that is stocked up before each camping trip.
- Encourage independence but at the same time ensure they know their limits in terms of their unsupervised movements around camp
- Supply them with walkie talkies and they can contact you if need be, and they will have lots of fun with them as well.
- Make them aware of any inherent dangers around camp, such as cars, water courses and fire pits.
- Point out a landmark or other way of locating your campsite in the event that they lose their way.
- Check the weather forecast and make sure you are properly equipped for the expected conditions, but also come prepared for the unexpectedly warm weather clothes as well as cold.
- Teach them not to get too close to wild animals or to feed them.
- Familiarise yourself with health and safety essentials, such as safety for children around water, campfire safety and administering first aid for insect bites and stings, injuries and accidents and weather related illnesses.
For more on health and safety, jump down to the separate health and safety section of this article.
6: Bring some favourite toys and games
Enough of the rules and regulations - now for the fun camping ideas for kids!
Some camping locations are more child friendly in terms of entertainment options than others, but regardless there are times when you will be chief entertainer.
You may not have a whole lot of room for lots of bulky items like basketballs, surfboards and even larger board games, but you will still have plenty of options to keep them entertained.
If packing space is limited, include the following items in your camping gear checklist:
- A more compact travel board game instead of the bulky favorites you might have at home.
- A couple of packs of cards with card game instructions.
- If they enjoy drawing, compact drawing pads and enough pens / pencils to keep them entertained, but maybe not the whole pencil case.
- Likewise, enough Lego but not the whole tub.
- Softcover books instead of hardcover, or better still book worms could go electronic.
- Inflatable items rather than solid ones, such as for swimming.
- The cricket set instead of the basketball.
- Extra layers of clothing
7: Stay at established family holiday parks
There are plenty of camping spots available at national parks but they tend to have fewer facilities and generally suit the more self-sufficient and experienced camper.
While more expensive and crowded, rather than bringing all of your own entertainment, you may consider staying in the more established holiday and caravan parks.
These parks provide a variety of activities, such as swimming pools, jumping pillows, playgrounds, entertainment rooms, tennis courts and mini-golf. During peak holiday times they also often provide organised activities.
8: Make sure the kids have playmates
Camping gives children the opportunity to run around, play and explore, but it's hard for them to do that if there is no-one they can relate to.
Without someone to bounce off, they may turn to you for entertainment. Now there's nothing wrong with that generally - in fact, turning off and bonding with your child is a major camping benefit - but not 24/7.
So, if you are not sure if there will be others to play with, consider allowing them to bring a friend, or alternatively camp with another family with similarly aged children.
9: Give them some privacy
Kids love having their own little private space, whether that be a cubby house, a treehouse or something they have constructed out of whatever is available.
We don't want them creating havoc around camp, so consider taking an extra tent such as a smaller hiking style tent to provide an escape for them. They will be out of your hair for a period of time and you will know exactly where they are.
10: Camp with other families
It takes a village to raise a child, and that is never more evident to me than at the campground.
Camping with other families not only gives your kids others playmates, it also fosters relationships between them and the adults as well, which is incredibly beneficial for them and over time can develop lifelong bonds.
Not only that, they can learn new things from others that you might not be able to teach them - like how to fix a flat bike tyre, how a spider has spun it's web or how to water ski.
11: Avoid buying gear designed for kids
It is important to build up a setup that is functional and comfortable, but you don't always need to buy camping equipment designed for children unless for safety reasons, such as sleeping arrangements.
You will often see such products on the market, but in our experience they don’t tend to be of great quality and aren’t necessarily going to last the distance. They will also grow out of them pretty quickly.
To keep your long term costs down, unless for safety reasons consider buying good quality adult size camping gear to avoid a further outlay down the track when they have grown. This includes sleeping bags, sleeping mats and chairs.
12: To keep toddlers from wandering off
Camping with toddlers and babies can be a real challenge, especially when you are still toilet training, but it can be incredibly beneficial for them as well.
Safety of course is a priority, particularly in relation to your choice of campsite location. Routines as mentioned above are also important, including nap and meal times.
As your child grows older, you will happily leave at home all of the paraphernalia that accompanies young children. Until then, baby carriers, strollers, baby wipes, sleeping cots, a travel potty or toilet and a picnic rug will help make camping with toddlers and babies easier.
Sleeping cots will also help to contain your child and keep them safe while you attend to a pressing matter.
13: Keep younger children occupied during set up and pack up
Unless they are able to be unsupervised, make sure you have something to occupy the kids while you are setting up and packing up camp and your mind is otherwise occupied.
Concentration levels on them will be diminished as you are pitching tents and setting up your campsite, and you want to get through the set up process as soon as possible so your camping adventures can begin.
14: Keep some water and a wash-cloth on hand for clean up
Kids can get pretty grotty around camp, and in my experience, they are not the least bit concerned about that. But even if they aren't, we don't want them to be traipsing it all into the tent and sleeping areas.
Make it easy for them to wash the dirt away by setting up a washing station. Maintain a regular shower routine and keep the campsite clean with a doormat at the entrance to the tent.
15: Don't forget the marshmallows!
And last but not least, whether you have a campfire or not, don't forget the marshmallows. Everyone loves them and there are plenty of ways to eat them, including straight.
If you don't have a campfire, cook them over your gas cooker and sandwich them together with a piece or three of chocolate in between a couple of sweet biscuits and you have a delicious S'more.
We hope these tips for camping with family and kids will be help you to focus on what matters rather than sweat over the small stuff. If you are also looking for some more ideas, you can check out our camping tips for beginners article.
Camping guide for urban & apartment living families
While camping for the first time can be a challenge for any family, urban families living in apartments and smaller homes experience a number of unique barriers:
- A lack of storage space, not only for trailers but for bulky gear
Alternative transport and car/ride-share options that make car ownership less attractive, or at least a suitable car for camping Logistical challenges when it comes to loading the car when there are long distances between where the gear is stored and the loading bay or car park, especially when stairs are involved.
But there is a way for a family of up to 5 to camp comfortably and travel safely without the need for a trailer. As we cover in our Camping For Families In High-Rise And Smaller Homes article, you need the Trailer-Free Trifecta, and that is:
- The right kind of vehicle (and not necessarily a large car)
- The right kind of camping setup that can be transported by that vehicle, and
- An efficient way to pack the vehicle
In this article, we also cover other issues facing apartment living families:
- Hiring a car if you don't own the right kind of vehicle
- How to store you gear in a relatively small space
- How to choose gear that will be easy to dry in a small space
- How to choose space-efficient gear
Planning the perfect adventure for a quick camping getaway
So now you know what to bring, it's time to plan your family camping holiday, because they say an hour of planning saves 10 hours of doing, and this definitely applies to camping for families.
The better planned and more efficient you are, the more enjoyable and less stressful your experience will be. You will also save time and money when you can take advantage of early bird discounts, and you come properly equipped.
Here are our top planning related camping tips for families:
Planning Your first family camping adventure
Camping for beginners can be a daunting prospect, especially with kids. Here are our tips when planning your first family adventure:
- Choose established campgrounds with amenities and activities for the kids, and book a powered site to avoid the need to equip yourself with your own power source.
- Buy good quality and long-lasting gear that won't fail you at the worst time possible. It doesn't have to expensive, and you don't need a high-end setup, just a functional one that won't let you down.
- Avoid bad weather by deferring or calling off a trip or altering your departure date due to a bad weather forecast.
- Travel with more experienced campers to learn from, but try to resolve your issues yourself before taking the easy way out by seeking help.
- Test your gear beforehand and how to pack the car to familiarise yourself with the process. Make sure also you have all of the pieces and required tools.
- Plan your meals and avoid over-complicating your meals. Establish a simple meal plan of familiar dishes that everyone will enjoy and look forward to. Check out also the local cafe's, and maybe skip campfire cooking for a while.
Planning For any Family camping trip
Whether seasoned or newbie campers, follow these tips, and you will never again feel like the packing time takes longer than the trip itself. In fact, you will be able to head off on a camping trip with little notice and safe in the knowledge that everything is accounted for.
When preparing for a family camping trip:
Anytime: Organise, repair and replenish: At any time in between trips, organise your gear, replenish anything lost or used up, do any necessary repairs, cleaning and washing and return everything to its rightful place.
One week before you leave:
- Housekeeping: In the week or so before you go, cancel deliveries, pay bills, check insurances and wash clothes to take.
- Carkeeping: Before to your trip, check the condition of your car and if insurances and registrations are paid up. Does it need a tune-up/service? Is it road worthy? Check the tyres, including spare tyre, fuel, water, oil.
- Plan your journey: Assuming you know where you are going and if required. have booked your site, in the week before your trip, plan your journey and your menu, and involve the kids. Check the information and "what's on" websites and publications, check the weather forecast, and ensure you are equipped accordingly.
- Freeze items: In advance of your departure, freeze items to be transferred to your fridge before you leave, such as frozen meals, ice blocks and water bottles.
- Recharge everything: Ensure all of your batteries, camp lights, charger packs and any other rechargeable devices are actually fully charged.
Departure day: Get started early on departure day, or pack as much as you can the night before. Allow plenty of time - to pack and load the car, travel, arrive and register at camp and to set up your campsite. You don't want to be setting up in the dark.
Meals and entertainment
Feeding the famished: Our favourite camping meals and munchies
A big part of planning your camping trips is your meal planning. And even in our camp kitchen we can still serve up some incredibly delicious meals and snacks that the whole family will love.
You don't need an expensive and complicated camp kitchen setup either. As well as the designated chefs, all you need is three things:
- The right camp cooking equipment, with everything you need and nothing you don't.
- A selection of reliable, delicious and flexible recipes that can be easily prepared with the utensils you have at hand.
- The right ingredients either brought from home in your food pantry or, in the case of bulky or perishable items, easily sourced on the road.
If you want to know what our camp kitchen looks like, head over to our camp kitchen article.
Here are some of our favourite healthy family food ideas:
Breakfast / Snacks:
- Fresh fruit and yogurt
- Vegetables (cucumber, capsicum, celery, carrot, broccoli) served cut up by themselves or with dip
- French toast
- Corn fritters
- Trail mix
- Popcorn (made in pot)
- Also, check out Easy Camping Snacks Kids Will Love by Campingconverts.com
- Egg and bacon sandwiches/english muffins
- Chicken wraps
- Macaroni and cheese (if you feel like cooking)
- Sandwiches and rolls (cheese & salad, ham & salad, egg & lettuce)
- Any leftovers from previous meals
- Spaghetti bolognese
- Steak sandwiches
- Bangers'n mash
- Nicoise salad
- Also, check out Fun And Easy Camping Meals For Kids by Takethetruck.com
Keeping the kids captivated: Activity ideas for everyone
Another important thing to remember when camping as a family is entertainment, because even though there are plenty of activities to keep kids entertained around camp, there is also something special about bonding over card or board game.
If packing space is limited, include the following items in your gear checklist for some fun camping activities.
- A more compact travel board game instead of the bulky favourites you might have at home.
- A couple of packs of cards with card game instructions.
- If they enjoy drawing, compact drawing pads and enough pens/pencils to keep them entertained, but maybe not the whole pencil case.
- Likewise, enough Lego but not the whole tub.
- Softcover books instead of hardcover, or better still, book worms could go electronic.
- Inflatable items rather than solid ones, such as for swimming.
- The cricket set instead of the basketball.
- Fishing gear
Consider also other activities, such as hiking, water games, treasure and scavenger hunts, obstacle courses and spotlighting at night. And make sure you pack the right equipment to enjoy these activities.
Health and Safety
Camping health and safety: Our four-pronged approach
When camping, it is not only important to have a well equipped first aid kit, you need to know how to use it properly. You also should follow preventative measures to avoid the need to use it and call for help when the situation is beyond your control.
We have a four pronged approach to camping safety:
First aid kit
Firstly, a well equipped first aid kit is essential in dealing with any medical situation. Rather than include the list here, head over to our first aid lit article for our very comprehensive list. You won't need every item, but it will help you to decide what to include in yours.
Prevention: Tips from the experts
Secondly, we want to minimise the risk of anything going wrong in the first place with our health and safety preventative measures. With the proper knowledge, planning and equipment, we can help to minimise or even avoid risks to our health and safety.
Listed below are some informative articles from trusted sources designed to help improve your safety in the great outdoors and on your travels. These articles are by reputable and trusted sources external to Set to Camp.
- Beach safety: Continue reading on the Australian Government's Health Direct website
- Water safety: Continue reading on the Victorian Government's Better Health website
- Bushwalking safety: Continue reading on the Victoria Police website
- Campfire safety: Continue reading on the Department of Fire and Emergency Services (WA Govt) website
- Hot weather safety: Continue reading on the Australian Government's Health Direct website.
Treatment: Tips from the Experts
Thirdly, no matter how prepared you are and how many precautions you take, things can go wrong, and people can get sick, have accidents, injure themselves, get bitten by something – you name it.
Here are some more useful articles. Many of these situations are rare, and some exceptionally so, but advanced knowledge in being able to provide the right kind of first aid assistance is important and reassuring.
- First aid basics and DRSABCD: Continue reading on the Australian Government's Health Direct website
- Pressure Immobilisation Bandage (how to apply): Continue reading on the NSW Poisons Information Centre website
- Snake bites: Continue reading on the Australian Government's Health Direct website
- Hypothermia: Continue reading on the Australian Government's Health Direct website
- Sunburn and sun protection: Continue reading on the Victorian Government's Better Health Channel website
- Cuts and abrasions: Continue reading on the Victorian Government's Better Health Channel website
- Sprains and strains: Continue reading on the Victorian Government's Better Health Channel website
Calling for help: How to call for emergency assistance in Australia
And last but not least, having the ability to call for emergency help is essential, especially if you are a beginner camper and are still learning the do's and don'ts of camping and travelling into remote areas. Again, rather than repeat the information, head over to our article here on how to call for emergency help in Australia.
If you are located elsewhere, use the information to guide what you should be researching for your location.
Reigning in the runners: How to stop your child from straying
A universal challenge for beginner and experienced campers alike is the question of how to contain the young ones to the campsite and stop them from wandering off. While our experience with our son at that age wasn't so challenging, there is no doubt that some parents have a nightmare of a time.
Here are suggestions from us and others to help stop the "runners":
- To allow them to be seen and identified easier, keep them dressed in bright coloured clothes.
- So that they can be seen easily at night, tie glow sticks to them.
- So you can pinpoint their position, have them wear a GPS tracking device such as a watch.
- To prevent them from exiting the tent at night, place the zipper slider up high out of their reach. Also, put your bed between their beds and the tent entrance.
- Around water, keep a properly fitted life jacket or floatation device on them at all times.
- To keep them in one place, set up a play pen or fence an area off.
- Keep them occupied with plenty of adventures and other activities to tire them out.
- Relax, go with the flow and enjoy watching them as they explore and enjoy the new sites, sounds, smells and feelings of grass, rocks, sticks, mud...
- Have a screen device handy as an emergency backup.
- A somewhat controversial idea, when you can absolutely watch them closely, tie a guy rope to their life jacket or backpack.
What other ideas do you have.
About Camping Etiquette: Enjoy, Embrace and Leave No Trace
Campground etiquette for the kids
While we want kids to have fun and be kids, a simple early reminder to them about the right way to behave can go a long way towards a more harmonious campground.
Here is our advice for the kids on camping etiquette:
- Keep the noise down early in the morning
- Don't walk or ride through the middle of someone else's campsite
- Clean up after themselves in the shower block and camp kitchen
- When playing ball games, try to avoid kicking or hitting the balls into someone's campsite. But if that happens, most campers will be fine with it if they politely apologise and ask for their ball ack.
- Familiarise them with the campground rules, including when they should return to the campsite in the evening.
Hopefully, others in the campground inclined to party after dark will show the same consideration and courtesy to you and your family!
Camping etiquette for everyone
With so many unique and diverse campers in such close proximity to each other, it's not surprising that campground harmony isn't always a given. Any number of things can turn the peace and tranquillity of camping into something less so - loud music, generators, parties late at night, leaving waste behind, the state of the bathrooms...
So, when you are heading out into the great outdoors, here are my camping etiquette words of wisdom:
So, the first thing is, surprise surprise, enjoy yourself. And camping is one of those activities where we are never short of something to do, especially of the more peaceful variety. Even if it is to go for a walk and enjoy the fresh-air and the surrounds.
That said, while we all want to have a great time, we have a responsibility to do our bit for campground harmony. And that often means embracing within reason the fact that there are people who also want to enjoy themselves, and will play music we don't like, have different sleeping patterns, have friendly children that mean well, cook food that is not to your taste (or smell), and so on.
So my second suggestion is to go with the flow, have a positive mindset and don't sweat the small stuff. Try to embrace what is going on around you rather than get annoyed at every little thing, and you will enjoy your experience even more. You might even realise you actually enjoy their music rather than try to drown it out with your own.
Our third and probably over-arching point is to follow the Leave No Trace Principles (LNT), which was established with hiking in mind, but we as campers can take a lot from it as well.
LNT sets a pretty high bar for us, but is nevertheless is something we should all aim for, even if we don't always hit the target. Every little bit counts!
You can head on over to our separate Leave No Trace article for the details, or jump to any of the following seven principles for more information and suggestions:
1. Plan ahead and prepare so that you are properly equipped for your activities and don't abandon your LNT principles in the name of safety and expediency.
2. Travel and camp on durable surfaces to minimise the amount of damage we do when we are hiking and around camp.
3. Dispose of waste properly - general and human waste and waste-water - no further explanation needed.
4. Leave the environment as you found it including by leaving souvenirs behind.
5. Minimise campfire impacts including buy using existing fire pits, minimising the size of the campfire and only collecting firewood from a wide area that does not serve as a habitat for wildlife.
6. Respect wildlife, including by staying away from its habitat and pathways, and not feeding it.
7. Be conscious of hosts, campers and visitors by being respectful to others, leading by example, abiding by the applicable rules and regulations, being patient, keeping the noise down, especially at night, being polite and considerate to others and trying not to stand out.
The Camping Setup
Your ideal camping setup: To tow or not to tow
When we think of camping, we automatically think of the tent. But there are lots of different tent camping setups to choose from as well as all of the different types of camper trailers and caravans to hitch to your tow bar and RV's and motorhomes as well.
But before you go investing your hard-earned money into cars, caravans and camping gear, consider what kind of setup suits you.
Ask these questions:
- What do you want to get out of camping?
- How much space do you have to store bulky gear or trailers and RV's?
- What is your budget, both short and long term?
- What are your longer-term plans?
- What is your preferred style of camping?
- Are you starting or growing the family?
- Does touring or 4-wheel driving interest you.
- Is a lap of the country a long term or short term dream?
So what kind of camper are you or would you like to be?
And before you buy anything, be it a family tent or an RV, do your research:
- Look at the accessories available for the particular model
- Do searches on the internet for reviews and forum comments
- Look for YouTube videos that show the layout and setup process
- Ask questions in-store or online
- Try to visualise how you would configure the setup and its accessories for sleeping, cooking and indoor/outdoor shelter.
Travelling trailer free? How to choose your ideal family car for camping
This section is really for those families wishing to camp trailer free, that is without the need for any kind of trailer to haul your gear.
Choose your vehicle wisely, and you can avoid the potentially costly mistake of buying an unsuitable vehicle - one that is either bigger than you really need, or worse still, not big enough.
Suitable cars for transporting a family of four don't necessarily need to be in the large size category if they aren't otherwise your preference. You may find your ideal vehicle listed in our best mid-size car for camping trailer free review, which you will find in our Camping Kickstart Program.
If you don't actually own a car, or the vehicle for camping, you can also check out our article: Hiring a car? Which car, and how to pack it.
When choosing your vehicle, you will have the usual considerations, such as driving performance, accessories, off-road capabilities, fuel efficiency, running costs, comfort, number of seats or even if it will fit into your driveway or car space at home. Consider also the following when choosing a vehicle to comfortably and safely transport everyone and everything to and from the campsite:
Cars suitable for camping vary from your typical wagon, SUV and 4WD through to the dual-cab utes with a canopy and the larger people mover vehicles. Not every model of vehicle will suit, but fortunately we still have a wide choice.
For more on the pros and cons of these types of vehicles, go to our car styles for camping article.
An important factor when choosing a car for camping trailer free is the extent to which it is built to carry the weight of your load. That includes you, your passengers, your gear, luggage, bikes, any emergency fuel and water, and other "toys" as well as any accessories added to your car, such as tow bars and roof racks. You will be surprised at how quickly the weight all adds up.
All vehicles will (or should) have a rated payload, or load carrying capacity, and car manufacturers should, but don't always, make this information available to their customers, at least in our experience. It sometimes involves a bit of digging around, but the first places to look are in the printed vehicle specifications or on the vehicle compliance plate.
To learn more about payload, you can check out our payload article, and you can estimate the weight of your particular carload using our calculator.
Rear cargo capacity
As camping gear is much more easily placed inside the car than strapped to the roof racks or hitched to the tow/hitch bar, your car of choice will need to have a generous rear cargo area.
While the bigger the better, by comparison to other vehicles it doesn't need to be enormously large. It still, however, needs to meet our minimum requirements, as we outline in our rear cargo capacity article.
If transporting gear on the car roof is not an option, such as if you are hiring a vehicle, then there are other options. The 8-seater people movers and the dual-cab ute with a canopy may have adequate rear cargo capacity to hold all of your camping gear as shown in our Hiring a car? Which car and how to pack it.
Car roof and accessories
Unless your vehicle has a particularly large rear cargo area, one popular option is to transport some of your camping gear on the roof of your car, either strapped directly to the roof racks or enclosed in a roof box or bag. As with the overall car payload, your car roof and roof racks will have specified load limits.
Transporting gear on the roof of your vehicle requires fitted roof rails, which are likely to be more cost-effective if factory-fitted rather than fitted after market. In fact, fitting aftermarket roof rails might not be possible for some vehicle models. You will also need roof racks, which generally take the form of crossbars or a roof tray or basket fitted to the rails.
For more information, check out our car roof considerations article.
Accessories of all sorts are sold by car manufacturers to enhance their vehicles and increase their potential. Those particularly useful for camping trailer free include tinted windows, tow bars, side steps and cargo barriers.
For more on this, check out our accessories and other considerations article.
The best family tent camping checklist
And for every camping setup, there needs to be a checklist, and not just any one. You need an editable checklist because everyone is different, your camping requirements change over time, and you need to be able to amend the list accordingly.
Head over to our separate camping checklist article to see what is on the list.
You will see that the checklist is broken down into the following categories
- Tent and accessories
- Bathroom and Laundry
- First aid / H&S
- Bedding and towels
- Sports / entertainment / other activities
- Cars and accessories
- Eco-friendly and sundry Items
In particular, though, here are some essential items to remember to include in your checklist for your next family trip:
For all children
- Sun hat
- Swimming top
- Three-layer rule for clothing in winter (base, middle and outer layer) with an extra layer just in case
- Spare dry clothes
- Spare blanket
- Wet weather shoes
- Water shoes
- Insect repellant
- First aid kit
- Entertainment: books, cards and games
For Babies and Toddlers
- Picnic blanket
- Portable cot/crib
- Baby wipes
- Baby formula and bottles
- Highchair or booster chair
- Play-pen (space permitting)