The quintessential Kiwi summer isn’t complete without a camping trip and having kids under five in tow doesn’t mean you have to forgo the traditional New Zealand activity. So what can you do to help make taking your three to five year olds camping easier?
- Practice makes perfect
Instead of throwing your little one into the deep end try out a backyard campout before your full throttle camping adventure. This way your kids will know what to expect and you’ll get to see how they respond within the comfort and safety of your own home. You can also start focusing on more outdoors activities in the lead up to the camping trip to help acclimatise them and get them excited about the trip. Go on bushwalks, picnics and fishing trips to get them interacting with the outdoors beforehand and avoid overwhelming them.
- Be prepared
Just like with any camping trip everything will be easier if you go prepared. As well as making sure you have the usual necessary items for camping take some games and toys for any wet weather days to avoid boredom and ensure your child has all the correct clothes for the different activities and weather you may encounter while you’re away. Know where your closest 24 hour medical centre is. It may not have been something you worried about before you had children but if you get woken by a violently ill kid in the middle of the night the last thing you want to be doing is driving around in circles trying to find the local A&E.
- Ensure you’re headed somewhere ‘Kid friendly’
Particular camp sites and particular times of year draw a camping crowd that don’t tend to mesh well with little kids. Make sure the campsite you choose is somewhere that isn’t notorious for younger or partying campers and has plenty of kid friendly activities in the area. It may also pay to visit the camp first and make sure you’ll feel comfortable taking your children there. There can be lots of potential hazards at a campsite and you can prepare better for them if you know about them ahead of time. Try and find a spot that isn’t beside any large bodies of water that a little person could reach in the few seconds that your back is turned. It may cost you a view but setting up camp further away from a beach or lake creates a safer environment.
- Comfy beds
You might find that sleeping in less than comfortable situations is just part of the camping experience but if you want your little people well rested and in good moods everyday it’s wise to invest in comfortable bedding for them. Air beds or foam mattresses are easy to transport and provide added comfort. Remember to work activities around any naps your children need. You don’t want to be stuck half way through a three hour bush walk when it’s naptime.
- Enjoy yourselves
As with everything done with children and every camping trip ever not all things go to plan. Try not to stress about things that go slightly wrong and instead focus on enjoying the trip with your family and teaching your children new things. As long as you’re having fun as a family and your children are experiencing the amazing outdoors that New Zealand has to offer your camping trip has been a success. Just don’t forget to take the camera!