If you love outdoor adventures and spending time with your kids, but are wondering how these two worlds are going to mesh together, read on.
When my husband and I first took off in our caravan with our seven-month-old, we had absolutely no idea what we were doing.
We loved camping pre-parenthood, but a lot changes when you have a tiny human along for the ride. Luckily, we picked up a few hacks in the year we spent on the road.
Camping with kids is a whirlwind, but totally worth it. These nifty bits of kit will help make your next family camping trip run smoothly. Well, as smoothly as toddlers allow…
1. Rain overalls
No need to let wet weather ruin your day with a pair of all-in-one waterproof overalls.
Paired with rubber boots an outfit like this means your littlest adventure buddy stays warm and dry while exploring the outdoors. From the play park to the beach, no more wet pants and soggy sleeves.
2. Scrubba bag
This dry bag with a scrubber inside is perfect for camping with kids.
Throw any wet clothes in it throughout the day and then just add some water and some eco-friendly detergent when you get back to camp. Seal it up and rub the bag for three minutes. Drain, rinse and hang up your clothes ready for the next day.
No more stinky bags full of muddy gear stashed in the boot (which you forget about and only discover weeks later).
3. Yeti mugs
Whether using it for your morning coffee or your evening tipple, a Yeti mug will keep your drink just the right temp… no matter how long it takes you to wrangle the baby.
They are also pretty tough and can survive being launched across the tent by an angry toddler or thrown into the beach bag for sundowners by the water.
4. Bunnings pet cool mat
While originally intended for your furry pal, this self-cooling mat is the best $15 you will ever spend for baby naps in hot weather.
With no need to charge them or put them in the fridge, these mats can be placed anywhere from the pram to the cot to keep your little one cool on hot days.
5. Phil&Teds travel cot
One of the only travel cots I have come across with a side zip, which makes it perfect for tents and vans because you don’t have to be able to fit the baby over the top if the roof is low.
It packs down so small and light that your toddler can carry it themselves. And it takes seconds to put up.
The only thing I found is that the mattress is quite thin and doesn’t keep the cold out on chilly nights, so I normally put a blanket or a yoga mat on the floor under it.
6. USB-charged fan
Perfect for the car, pram or cot. When the weather gets really steamy these USB charged fans are your best friend.
The charge lasts for a few days and they can be recharged in the car or with any 12v charger or mains power plug.
7. Macpac carrier
This bit of kit is pricey, but well worth the investment.
The Macpac Carrier (pictured below) or similar Osprey Child Carrier will last your little one from 6ish months well through the toddler years. Making hikes and bush walks not only possible, but good fun for everyone.
The littlies will love being high up and taking in the view and you will love the comfy design that makes your 12kg kid easy to carry.
Make sure to pack age-appropriate snacks and toys to keep them happy in there for just a kilometre or two longer so you can get to all your favourite adventure spots.
It comes with a rain cover and sunshade so they can also be used for naps on the go if needed.
8. Compact highchair
A highchair is great for keeping mealtime routines while camping. They are also perfect for rainy day colouring or painting in the tent or van.
As our daughter grew we tried a few different highchairs throughout the trip. The best one for you is going to depend on your child’s age and your camping set up.
This highchair from Kmart was the cheapest, smallest and lightest and can go on the floor or a chair. It also folds into its own little bag which was great. I did find the seat sagged after six months of everyday use so she would slip out of it a bit, but for $29 it was still great value.
We had a similar fold-out camping highchair from Oztrail which was good because it sits the baby up at the same height as the adults, but it wasn’t very durable and only lasted a few months, it was also the most expensive highchair we had.
This Ingenuity highchair is great for caravans because it fits well on a bench seat and is solid plastic, so easy to clean.
If you have a sturdy table to attach it to, the Lobster from Phil&Teds is a great option. It packs down super small and doesn’t have legs so won’t trip anyone up around camp.
9. Baby bath/shower
Kids get really, really, really dirty camping. It’s actually quite impressive. Having a way to wash some of the grime off them at the end of the day will keep the sleeping bags a little bit cleaner, if nothing else. A fold-out bath is great for smaller kids.
I love to swim whatever the weather, but babies get cold quickly when they are in the water, even on warm days. So a baby wetsuit has been a great addition to our camping and adventure gear.
It’s ideal for early morning ocean swims, chilly river swims and even going for a dip in the campsite pool.
They keep the sun off as well as the cold, which means everyone can swim for that little bit longer.
For younger babies, the Splash About Happy Nappy Wetsuit is good because it has a built-in swimming nappy.
If you prefer to have the swimming nappy separate, these O’Neill Toddler Wetsuits come in ages 1-6 years and ours has held up really well for over a year in salt, sun and chlorine.