No Time? No Money? No Problem!
How you can get the best experience when camping with kids, even on a tight budget!
Kids absolutely love having fun camping outdoors, and one of the greatest benefits of this as a family pastime, is the fact you can do it on a shoestring budget! I have pulled together some simple cost effective recommendations for you, that will be sure to give the kids an amazing adventurous fun time and receive some pretty good health benefits all at the same time. Believe it or not, most of the time and cost savings are in the preparation at home and letting mother nature work her magic - simple huh?!
Book into a local National Park.
Camping in National Parks is a very affordable way to go in today’s economic climate. As I write this, the cost for a current nightly stay in a Queensland National Park averages about $3.65 for students - $6.50 per person, and or, $26.60 per family. National Parks are scattered all over Australia and many of these are within a stone’s throw of your capital cities and large rural townships. As you can imagine, being so close makes this ideal for those who have limited time available away from work and wonderful for those managing tight budgets on travel expenditure. Even better, you’ve usually got loads of space to set up camp (you’re not allocated a tiny footprint on top of your neighbours) and in most National Park camp grounds there’s often plenty of space to swim, run, kick a football, ride a bike and throw a Frisbee…. just to name a few!
Prepare & pre-cook meals at home
If you’re out of time and don’t want to waste a lot of money on food, the best option is to pre-cook camping meals in bulk at home and itemise them into smaller meal size containers ready-to-go. The convenience of this once you’re camping is amazing for parents - all you have to do is re heat your itemised meals in a saucepan or billy and you’re done! Ideal suggestion are stews, soups, pasta and the good old Spaghetti Bolognaise.
Freeze your own ice and source your own wood
You’ve only got to buy 2 or 3 bags of ice and a couple of bags of firewood for your upcoming weekend camping getaway and all of a sudden you’re $50 down and you haven’t even started your weekend camping getaway! Being prepared is going to save you a lot of money & time. Freezing your own ice in large blocks (i.e.: ice cream containers & milk containers) will not only hold better in your icebox over the weekend camping experience, it will also help you out in the hip pocket! Sourcing your own wood is no different. There are many people giving away wood using social media these days. Whether it’s left over from clearing up their back yard after an old tree has been cut down, or simply having someone you know on acreage willing to offer you timber fallen on the ground…. there are many ways to find free wood for a camp fire. It just takes a bit of research & preparation! **Be aware you cannot source Firewood from National Parks, so you will definitely need to plan ahead of time**
Let Nature work her magic
Kids love adventure, discovery and play time when out in nature…. which is another great reason why National Park camp grounds are worth their weight in gold! Their minds flick into creative adventure mode (now how good is that for building a healthy growing mind?!) and their bodies get a damn good workout without them even knowing (a physical health reboot!). Swimming, nature walks, mountain bike riding, climbing trees, rock hopping and all round outside games with the newly met camping neighbours and much, much more! The best thing about this…. it’s a free kids club that they run themselves! You don’t have to pay extra for it, you don’t have to organise it and they have ownership of it (more fun in their eyes!). Getting back to nature is good for your kid’s mind, body & soul. (Oh, and your wallet!)
Use what you have at home
There are so many items that we can use from home that will not only save money, but will even improve & enhance your Outdoor Camping Experience! Be it your bedding (Use you household Doona / Duvet / blankets) - crockery (we used our kid’s plastic cups and plates) - cutlery (straight out of our drawers at home) - BBQ tools (home use egg flip & tongs) - toiletries (plastic tub with your toiletries in zip lock sealed bags) and I have even noticed a resurgence in the use of candles around the camp late at night (the kids love it and they all want to hold their own.) …. must be something about the relaxing ambience! In short, you will be amazed what you can use from home that will save you money and improve the family camping experience. Something your kids will never forget and lifelong family camping memories forged!