Camping in a tent isn't for everyone and camping in a tent with children doesn't suit every family. If you want to take your children camping this summer but you haven't done so before, it is probably a good idea to try a one or two night trip the first time. You can then work out if a longer holiday under canvas would be fun, or not.
Camping near a beach can be a great summer holiday and something you will all talk about in years to come. It may become an annual event. There are plenty of caravan parks near beaches, either at city locations or further afield. You may even want to stay at a free camping site, but remember to take plenty of water and everything else you need
It goes without saying that the weather can be very hot in summer. Often beach locations are several degrees cooler than places further inland so this can make them a good place to pitch a tent. Remember, you won't have air conditioning.
A beach location can be a great place to camp in summer and provides a wide range of activities. Image:Marie Vonow
Okay, so you have tried camping before and are ready for a trip of more than one or two nights. Here are a few tips to help you enjoy the experience. Every family is different so pick and choose things that fit yours.
1. Make lists of things to take to ensure you don't forget your buckets and spades for building sandcastles, or the fishing rods or nets. Include a long sleeved jacket for each person, just in case the evenings are cold or the weather changes.
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2. Pack hats and plenty of sunscreen and insect repellent. If anyone is allergic to insect bites pack an epipen or any ointments or medication needed. Ensure they are easy to access in an emergency.
3. If you plan to go fishing, familiarise yourself with laws concerning the size of fish you can keep and bag limits for the day. A fine would spoil your holiday.
Ensure you are familiar with laws concerning fishing. Image:Marie Vonow
4. Plan easy meals so everyone gets a holiday including the cook. All that sea air and swimming tends to make children hungry so quick meals are a necessity.
5. If you are on a budget, buy what you can at the supermarket rather than caravan park kiosk or roadhouse. Keep perishable food cold in an esky with lots of ice or a camping fridge plugged into the cigarette lighter of your car. Ensure food is kept cold to avoid food poisoning.
6. Pack activities suitable for the ages and interests of your children. The beach will probably provide plenty of activities but a few board games, packs of cards, puzzles and books could come in handy for the nights. On the other hand your children may have packed their own entertainment in the form of electronic gadgets.
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7. If there are activities like side shows, mini golf and water slides near where you are staying, include the costs of these when working out your holiday budget. These activities should keep everyone occupied and happy for hours but the cost can add up.
Waterslide at fun park. Image:Marie Vonow
8. If you are not staying in the one place the whole trip, limit the number of times you have to set up camp, pack up and move on. Setting up at a different camp site each night for a week can become tedious.
9. Limit the amount of driving you will be doing. Children can get cranky if cooped up in the car for extended periods of time.
10. Encourage your children to enjoy the sights of nature. Go for walks along the beach. Enjoy sunrise and sunset together. Watch the moon rise over the water. These shared experiences are good for the soul and cost nothing.
Sunrise at Fitzgerald Bay. Image:Marie Vonow
11. Set up a beach umbrella or basic tent on the beach to provide somewhere to sit out of the sun during the day.
12. Teach your children to be safety conscious. If part of the beach is patrolled by life guards, swim in that area. Obey signs warning of dangers at the beach. Don't walk or run through grass as there could be snakes.
There could be snakes in grass so walk on paths. Image:Marie Vonow
Camping holidays can provide many wonderful experiences. Make sure you take plenty of photos.