Camping with toddlers

Camping with under 5s

I have fond memories of camping as a teenager… The freedom of running amok around a safe campsite with my newly found best friends, escaping the parents from sunrise to sunset and living off hot chips and ice creams for the week. Okay, so our family “camping” trips were actually in cabins but I was oh-so-envious of those amazing tent setups! So when hubby suggested we invest in some camping equipment in order to facilitate (afford) my need for monthly family holidays/long weekends I was all in!

Family camping project was on! I enthusiastically started a list off all the “must haves” and scoured the internet for blogs and advice on “camping with young kids”. We opted for a 3 room dome tent for our first purchase and booked in a 3 night trip to the Big 4 in Kiama, a manageable 1hr 15min drive away.

Leading up to the date we decided to test out all our gear in the backyard. Our 3.5-year-old was very enthusiastic about sleeping in a big cubby house, choosing which of the 3 rooms would be hers and which was the lounge room. She excitedly counted down the sleeps to go in the week leading up and couldn’t wipe the smile off her face the night before our trip.

I did have a few “what are we doing moments” and tried not to focus on the logistics of setting up a tent and campsite, feeding 2 hungry little monkeys without a fridge, pantry and kitchen and how on earth I would get our 21-month-old (who thinks sleeping is for the weak) to actually sleep in a tent!

Big 4 parks are on another level! It’s almost like glamping with fantastic facilities for families. I was very impressed with the camp kitchen (including toasters, kettles, oven, sinks, BBQs etc) and the super clean amenities. The park also boasted a brand new waterpark (hubby kept sneaking off for a waterslide), playground, jumping pillow, indoor games room and soft play, resort style swimming pool and of course a beautiful beach.

Our campsite was five metres from the playground so our youngest was in slippery dip heaven! It kept them entertained while we got everything set up and we were able to relax on our camp chairs, wine inhand, watching them play without having to leave the site. Our three-year-old is a little social butterfly so was quick to befriend our camping neighbours and form her little girl-gang for the weekend.

Camping with Toddlers

With so many activities on offer the days were jam-packed and children sufficiently exhausted by sunset.  Day naps were achieved with a little stroller walk or car trip around the block but once the sun was down the sound of the ocean sent everyone into dreamland pretty quickly (Mum and Dad included).

We weren’t ready to come home after the three nights and have already booked our next trip so all in all a huge success!

My top tips:

  • Pack lots of snacks and fruit (that don’t need refrigerating)
  • Don’t worry if the kids don’t shower for a day or three… the pool and ocean will do
  • Let the routine slide, as long as they are happy it doesn’t matter if bedtime is a little later than usual
  • Pack a clothesline/drying rack! This was one thing we forgot so there were swimmers and towels hanging from every tent rope
  • Leave the iPad at home. You can survive without technology for a few days
  • Take a potty for those middle of the night toilet needs (for your toddler, not your husband). Saves sleepwalking to the amenities block
  • Don’t stress about dirt/sand in the tent, it’s bound to happen
  • Microfiber towels for drying dishes and showers – they take up hardly any room and dry very quickly
  • Let the kids pack a bag of toys so they feel involved. Colouring books are a must for quiet times

• Guest post by local mum, Cara McFarlane •
(Feature image by @mar5hallart)


Cara McFarlane

Cara McFarlane

Cara is a local mum of two girls (aged 1.5 & 3) who has called the Shire home for five years. Find out more about Cara and what she loves about raising her family in the Shire in her Local Mum Feature!



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