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The Ultimate Camping Checklist

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It’s supposed to be in tents, not intense:

a checklist for your family camping trip.

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You’ve been talking about this camping trip for ages, and finally the big weekend is just around the corner. The forecast is looking good and everyone’s excited to head for the hills. Or maybe that nice spot by the lake. Wherever you choose to escape with your family, remember the one golden rule of camping: if you’re not prepared, you had better be prepared for disappointment.

Nothing beats enjoying the great outdoors with your family, but the fun can quickly turn to frustration if you haven’t dotted your i’s, crossed your t’s, and packed all your A-frames.


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  • While you can take the family camping in a car or SUV, 2WD or 4WD, it helps to tailor your trip to the size and capability of your vehicle. There’s quite a difference between an overnight stay in the local national park and a serious off-road adventure. Consider the type of terrain and conditions you’re prepared to encounter, as well as the length of your intended journey.
  • Some things are absolute must-haves on any road trip: jumper leads; towing equipment; a full tank of petrol; and of course a spare tyre. It’s off-road driving 101, so don’t get caught short with the kids in the back seat.
  • Triple-check that your essential camping gear is completely stocked. Have you got the air pump for your air mattress? Are all the pegs inside the tent bags? Do you have the necessary fire-starting materials? Items have a nasty habit of ending up in the wrong place after a previous camping trip. If you’re planning an extended holiday, do a ‘dry run’ first to discover if anything’s missing.
  • One of the main benefits of car camping is the ability to pack more than just the real essentials. When you’ve got the extra space, why not use it? Your list of extras might include: a headlamp; a battery-powered camp light; lightweight folding table and chairs; a plastic table cloth; a mesh bag; and equipment for as many recreational activities as you can handle.
  • Even if sunshine is predicted, always plan for a downpour. You never know when the heavens will open and you’ll be thankful for that wet-weather gear like tarpaulins, rain jackets, rain boots and spare clothes. It’s also a great idea to bring food that doesn’t need cooking and games that will keep the kids entertained through a damp day or evening.
  • Don’t hold back on your water supply. If you’re camping somewhere without a reliable water source, you’ll need to bring your own, and plenty of it – not just for drinking but for cooking, cleaning, hand-washing, teeth-brushing and possibly even First Aid. Water is a camping family’s best friend.
  • Set the alarms and get away as early as possible. You want to stake out the best spot, especially at popular destinations during peak periods like school holidays. Arriving just before sunset could mean trying to squeeze your car and tents into the smallest or most inconvenient space in the whole campsite – if there’s any space left at all. As for setting up in the dark, well there’s no less enjoyable way to start a holiday.
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Planning your ultimate camping trip in the Australian Outback? You may need more than a checklist! For your chance to win 1 of 20 "Driving Holidays Around Australia" guide books, simply click HERE to enter the competition and answer, in 150 characters or less, the following question:


Driving Holidays Around Australia contains 40 classic routes with detailed itineraries and maps, kid-friendly detours and activities, and all the information on the best eats and sleeps you can find along the way.

To read the Terms and Conditions of the competition.

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What kind of camping trip would you most love to take this summer?

This poll is closed.

Total Votes: 410

  • A local camping night out with the family
  • An epic camping adventure in the Australian outback
  • A multi-day camping and music festival
  • A town-by-town camping holiday along the Australian coast