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Camping Made Easy for Urban Families: What You Need to Know Now

BY JO SIMON

Last modified: August 2, 2022

INTRODUCTION

If you are reading this, you are probably living in the big smoke and keen to take the kids camping. No stars for working that out!

But you are also probably hankering to get down to the local camping store, or check them out online, and load up on stuff in case they sell out or the sales end.

But before you do, you need to read this.

Because hands up who has ever had buyers regret? Yes, my hand is well and truly up!

Because, here's the thing. It's a bit like building a house without a plan. You probably wouldn't even build a cubby house without some kind of a plan.

And you certainly wouldn't buy the furniture for the house before you bought the house. Enough analogies? I guess I made my point.

So, it's great you are here, and ready to learn the five things that will make camping for urban families easy before you spend your hard earned money.

Because here's how you can swap your urban surrounds for the great outdoors and take the kids camping, any time you liked, even with just 1 hour notice, to explore, to learn and to just be kids?

Not only that, here's how you can camp comfortably, travel safely, and have as much fun as most other camping families out there?

And especially, here's how you can do all of this without the need for the trailers, camper trailers, caravans, RVs or enormous cars that most camping families use nowadays?

Without all of the trial and error and frustration that goes with camping for newbies as well?

If that sounds appealing, then you are in the right place.

Because, as most of us know, camping is so good for you and your family on many levels - self confidence, resilience, the hip pocket, mental and physical health, and reflection, just to name a few.

But, for the city slickers amongst us (me included), there's one thing that gets in our way. And that is space, or lack of it, and the logistics around that.

It's hard enough if you are a busy parent to actually take the kids camping if you don't have the know how, the confidence and the right equipment. For many, that in itself can be a giant leap, especially if as well as that you've never camped before and perhaps haven't even grown up in a camping culture.

Add to that the logistics of urban life, and those challenges are perpetuated.

In this article, we will look at why urban families are very much under-represented at campgrounds compared to those living in suburban and rural areas. 

I will also give you our top five tips to camping for families living in high density areas to put you on an equal footing with other families. In fact, when all is said and done, I think you will agree you will be way out in front on many levels.

I will focus on apartment living families in this article, but the principles apply equally to any family living in a smaller home, including units, flats, townhouses and terrace houses.

I will give you tips to help you DIY everything we cover in this article. But I will also reference our Camping Kickstart Program for those of you who want to avoid all of the trial and error with a tried and tested solution. This program covers everything you need to know about camping trailer free, from the planning process right through to your return home.

WHERE ARE THE URBAN CAMPING FAMILIES


It was a real surprise to me to read that, according to the 2016 Australian Census data, nearly 11% of apartment residents are 0-11 year-olds. Such a statistic, I imagine, would be much higher in many other countries.

But despite their limited local outdoor natural spaces, you won't see many apartment dwelling families around the campgrounds - in my experience anyway.

And that statistic was taken 6-years ago. I can only imagine an upward trend since that time given skyrocketing property prices and the level of high-rise developments. 

In actual fact, I have observed over recent trips that over 90% of camping families tow something like a trailer, camper trailer or caravan when they go camping.

That would not only rule out the average high-rise family, but many other urban families as well.

The pros and cons of urban and apartment life

Living in an urban area is absolutely a great lifestyle choice for many families because of affordability, location, social life and proximity to work and family. These features are all highly sort after by families.

However, as noted in many articles written on this subject, including research published in Theconversation.com, many parents living in apartment complexes felt their children did not have sufficient access to local natural outdoor spaces.

While it won't necessarily reduce the importance of local outdoor play for the kids, one great way to get them outside into nature is to take them camping.

Barriers to camping

But on top of the usual challenges of beginner camping families, living in an apartment means you often have: 

  • A lack of storage space, not only for trailers but for bulky camping 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 the camping gear and the loading bay or car park, especially when stairs are involved.

But here's a news flash....

Families living in apartments and smaller homes are just as likely to appreciate the many benefits of camping as anyone else, if not more so given their limited living and outdoor spaces for the kids.

So, before you go out and buy a whole lot of camping gear that you might, after reading this, regret, here's what you can do about it.....

THE FIVE THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW now

#1: how to camp trailer free

Split image of a camping setup (top image) and a loaded car (bottom image)

Firstly, since we don't have the parking space, the key to camping for urban families of up to 5 is to avoid the need for any kind of trailer, camper trailer, caravan, RV, or an enormous car for that matter, and to camp trailer free.

And by that we mean to transport everything and everyone using just your vehicle.

Now, that might be easy to do if you go down and visit the local hiking store for some lightweight, relatively uncomfortable overnight hiking gear for your camping setup. And perhaps also leave the bikes and other fun things at home.

But not if you want to camp comfortably, travel safely and participate in activities such as bike riding, fishing, 4-wheel driving (etc) like other camping families.

For that, you need:

  • A comfortable camping setup that can be comfortably and safely transported by car
  • A compatible car capable of carrying the load safely 
  • An efficient way of packing it.

> Your camping setup

Firstly, you need a family camping setup that can be transported comfortably and safely by car. One that also includes a well equipped kitchen, good lighting, a decent tool-kit and good outdoor shelter as well as comfortable sleeping arrangements. And of course, a chair for everyone.

The setups in the images below are examples of compatible setups, at least for a family of 4-5, that we can help you put together in the Camping Kickstart Program.

Image of 4 camping setups

While exactly what you will include in your camping setup will vary, everything will generally fall into the following categories:

  • Tent and accessories
  • Tools
  • Power and fuel
  • Lighting
  • Camp kitchen
  • Refrigeration
  • First aid
  • Bathroom
  • Furniture
  • Sleeping
  • Clothing
  • Entertainment