Kathie Baker writes:
When holidays were fun but cheap
As young adults we would pack up the car and the trailer and go camping. We had a “hand me down” tent, which had seen many camping trips prior to my aunt and uncle upgrading “this old girl of a tent”. Looking back, these trips were cheap and loads of fun! Our kids were young enough not to complain, not born of the “computer or mobile phone era”. Fishing rods, bikes and swimmers. The kids had mum and dad at their beckon call, because we were on holidays!
Caravan parks vs National and State Parks
Caravan parks are great, and these days have loads of activities to encourage families with your children to choose this option. Jumping beds, swimming pools and of course other kids. However, caravan parks charge a fee. The fees vary and can add up if you go to the top end parks for a couple of weeks.
A new option that is emerging are the properties coming on board and allowing campers to camp on their properties.
Look at the camping options
- National parks and State Forests
- Showgrounds and reserves
- Check out the apps available that list camping options – such as Wikicamps
- Make a call to the Tourist Information Office of the area you want to visit and find out the camping options. Local knowledge of any area is priceless
You don’t need all the bells and whistles when camping. Our camping gear always revolved around an unpowered site. We often camped at National Parks.
- Esky x 2
- A gas bottle with a screw on cooking plate
- A little gas burner – to cook vegetables (more traditional cooking)
- Sleeping bags
- We had good quality sleeping mats
- A gaslight and torches
- Bins – we always packed our food into plastic bins. This kept the food dry and safe, although bending over was easier back then.
- A table
- Washing up container
- Utensils – plates
- Pair of work gloves
- A tent/caravan/air camping as depicted in the photo at the top of the page (a family photo)
- Consider the availability of local supplies. Apart from taking our staples we always shop in the local towns. This supports local business and allows us to travel with less.
- How far are you travelling? One of the expenses is fuel. Covid has changed the way we do things, so many of us are looking at destinations that don’t mean crossing borders.
- Make sure your vehicle and trailer, camper, caravan are ready to go. Check the spare tyres are in roadworthy condition. Roadside assist is essential in my world.
Water – an essential in my world
This will depend on the availability of water at the destination. Make sure you have enough water for drinking, washing up, personal hygiene. This is a great time to get the kids and big kids to drink more water!
Eat out in the fresh air not at the restaurants
Even a trip to the coffee shop for the family can add up. If you need to watch the pennies, then think “frugal”.
Camping meals do not have to be difficult and some of the best food is camping tucker. Everything seems to taste better when cooked in the outdoors.
Make sure you take camping clothes. Remember camping is about having fun, so if the kids want to climb a tree or play in the dirt don’t stress. Disposable clothes are the trick – your local op shop. Ok teenagers may not be on board with this, so there may be some discussions on this front.
- Spotlighting can be heaps of fun for the kids. Good torches needed for night
- Get on those bikes
- Campfire cooking
- Find the treasure – a game where clues are set by mum and dad for the kids to find the treasure
- Fishing (catch the fish and cook on the camp fire)
Packing and Loading
When it comes to loading and packing I leave the distribution of goods to the men. I don’t know why but the boys always seem to do this aspect of the camping trip better than me. Since working with Dayv though, when it comes to packing he really knows his stuff and has provided a range of calculators for all to play with.
Want to work out the best weight distributions for travel then head to the calculators.
In summary of camping on a budget
The main thing is not to let camping intimidate you. You don’t need to have the best of everything to have fun. The point is get out there. Remember the insect repellant as the mozzies will find you! The great Australian outdoors is waiting for you.