Life Escape How to manage a memorable last-minute camping trip with your little ones
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How to manage a memorable last-minute camping trip with your little ones

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After a year spent behind the screen, Australian families are eager to get back into the wild over the summer holidays and festive season.

Since Christmas abroad is out, and given New South Wales’ dicey coronavirus situation, what better time to become tourists in our own states?

Camping expert Serge Valentino, founder and managing director of Crusader Caravans, told The New Daily that international and interstate travel restrictions will see camping grounds busier than ever.

“Camping is definitely booming,” Mr Valentino said.

“We’re flat out. It’s great for our industry.”

But if you were waiting to see what would happen with interstate travel restrictions, or if you were just disorganised and have found yourself without a holiday, don’t despair.

For parents with young children seeking an inland adventure, Mr Valentino has a number of tips to ensure everyone stays a happy camper.

Failure to plan is planning to fail

When camping with young children, Mr Valentino urges parents to plan as much of the trip as possible – especially daily activities.

“The key to camping with children is to keep them occupied, happy and entertained,” he said.

“That’s with games, cricket, the walking, the swimming in creeks … you have your bananas and your chocolate on the campfire. 

“Research the area and see what there is to do there.

“Explain things to kids, try to experience nature with them. Ask them what they would like to do and give them options.”

Thinking ahead and planning around events or issues that may cause arguments can help keep things running smoothly, particularly if you’re prone to feeling ‘hangry’.

“Plan your food ahead of time, find out where you’re going to go to eat or what you’ll cook.

“A lot of arguments get tossed around between husband and wife, they can’t be bothered cooking or not cooking – plan it out before you get to a destination.”

Safety first

It’s hard to believe bushfire season is already upon us, but campers throughout the nation will need to have an established plan ahead of time should the worst occur.

Mr Valentino urges all families to research the area ahead of time, and go on camping grounds’ websites to ensure parents and children are familiar with evacuation plans and campfire regulation.

“Everyone loves campfires, but make sure you follow the rules,” he said.

“Ask when you get there or go on the website, don’t just take it for granted that you can just light a fire because [police and CFA] will come down on you so hard.”

After the 2019-2020 catastrophic bushfires, telling family and friends where you’re going and keeping spare water around just in case are also encouraged.

Educate kids about Australian wildlife and how to stay safe. Photo: Getty 

Some other tips to stay safe and prepared include:

  • Keep a well-stocked first aid kit close by and easily accessible
  • Have a talk with children about how to respect that land and animals, and what to do if they encounter snakes, spiders and other dangerous Australian wildlife
  • Make sure your car is serviced – there’s nothing like a flat tyre to ruin your holiday
  • You can’t eat without a fork, so write a checklist of items, utensils and other things you’ll need because chances are, you’ll forget the one item you desperately need
  • Sweating during the day but shivering after dark? Make sure to pack extra warm clothes for the nighttime.

Keep your cool

Travelling with kids can be challenging, frustrating and infuriating, but you know this by now.

Though it’s much easier said than done, Mr Valentino recommends taking a breather and going a little easier on your little rascals during your holiday.

“Have a laid-back attitude,” he said, since things can (and will) go wrong.

“When kids do disappoint you, or do something silly, don’t make them feel terrible – just roll with the punches.

“Children grow up so quickly, you’ll wish later you had this time again, so don’t take any moment for granted. Even when they annoy the crap out of you, just find a way to deal.”