Family camping trips are one of the most memorable and affordable holidays you can have, but what if the thought of roughing it, ruffles your feathers? Danielle Wright discovers “comfort camping” and offers some tried and tested tips:
1. Choose a campsite located near shops and restaurants like Mount Maunganui’s Beachside Holiday Park
. You don’t have to be in complete wilderness to have a fun camping trip: if the weather pours, take the kids to a movie at the local cinema a few minutes walk away instead of huddling inside a tiny tent.
2. Book at least a year in advance. Some of the prime sites are booked three years in advance so be early if you’re planning on a school holiday adventure. Ask to be sent a campsite map and for advice on their prime sites. You’ll want one on the end of a row, closest to the beach, so you have extra room for the kids, as well as a bit more privacy - rather than sandwiched in between two sites.
3. Call a local camping store and hire their biggest, roomiest tent then arrange for them to put the tent up just prior to your estimated arrival time – no need to battle with the pegs, your partner and toddlers!
4. Take two cars – one filled with every gadget and camping contraption you can find, as well as duvets, tables and chairs, blow up mattresses and the comforts of home. The other filled with one parent and the kids for a roomy trip to your destination. At least one carload will arrive relaxed!
5. Blow-up water toys are good for beach camping trips – a large ride-on airplane will help your kids make friends (you’ll have many ‘pilots’ over the course of the holiday) and can be packed away when not in use.
6. If you want some couple time, consider staying at a ‘camping resort’, which offers many of the resort options like kids clubs and water parks.
7. Bring a kid’s table and chairs set so the kids can eat properly – it will make you feel better about their less than desirable holiday diets if they can eat at their own table. Bring lots of S shaped clips to hang food and rubbish off the floor level away from little hands – they’re bound to find the packet of marshmallows long before nighttime otherwise.
8. Find the local Farmer’s Market and shop for fresh produce at reasonable prices, as well as local delicacies – gourmet sausages for the Barbie, or speciality breads and cheeses with preserves made with local fruits make a delectable ploughman’s lunch back at camp.
9. Don’t use the local deli for your shopping. Prices of milk, bread, washing up liquid and other basics will be double what you’d pay if you drove to the nearby supermarket – shop where the locals would shop. Spend your savings on your holiday fun, not your necessities.
10. Above all, leave the television, video games, laptop and DVD machine at home. The crashing of waves, mixed with a day in the fresh air, is enough of a lullaby.
By creating a comfortable camping holiday, yet leaving some of the more distracting home comforts behind, you’ll enjoy quality time and re-connect with your family to create life-long memories.