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  • Camping with Kids - Games to play at night

    Camping games at night

    That is Half 2 of tenting actions for youngsters.      You may read Part 1 here.

    We give attention to some concepts for after darkish.    

    After darkish video games can work relying on the age of the kids and your setting.      Video games like Tag or Disguise-and-Search within the Darkish, will not be acceptable or secure the place you're tenting.    We have now tried to listing  primarily video games that do not imply you should have youngsters scattered everywhere in the campground.

    Glow Stick Ring Toss

    Have to plan forward for this recreation?   YES

    Now you should buy this set here,  or you can also make it your self.  

    You want glow sticks (get them at reject shops or Low cost as Chips sells a pack of 50 for round $6) that may be made into a hoop (some include connectors included to make bigger shapes by connecting two or extra glow sticks).

    Then you definately arrange one thing that the glow stick rings may be thrown onto - it is perhaps one other stick within the floor (connect a spare glow persist with it to it stands out at midnight), or is perhaps a department on a tree. No matter you discover will work.

    Every little one has a set variety of glow sticks to attempt to toss onto the stick/department from a distance.   Smaller youngsters could have to be nearer to provide them a greater probability of success!

    Begin tossing!

    glow stick toss

    Prizes optionally available.

    Glow within the Darkish Bowling

    Glow in the dark bowling

    Have to plan forward for this recreation?   YES

    When you have glow sticks and empty clear water bottles (you would want at the least 6) you'll be able to add to the bottle, water and an activated glow stick.    Some sand is optionally available on the backside of the bottle as that helps stabilise the bottle and make it much less susceptible to falling over.

    Set the now-glowing water bottles up, and with a ball roll or kick it, to see what number of water bottles you'll be able to knock over from a distance.

    (above photograph via Instructables)

    Different Glow Stick Choices

    So in the event you nonetheless need extra glow stick choices, strive the next:

    - Glow Stick Hopscotch  (utilizing the glowsticks to kind the hopscotch sample however with out the numbers.   Forgotten how one can play this recreation - read here for a refresher!

    Have to plan forward for this recreation?   YES

    - Glow Stick Disguise and Search     Activate the glow sticks earlier than darkish, and conceal them.     As night time falls, they'll begin to glow, and the kid who collects probably the most wins.     This does take some planning forward as you want to activate and conceal in daylight!

    Have to plan forward for this recreation?   YES

    Glow Stick Security - Be sure to use Glow Sticks rigorously

    Earlier than we go away glow stick video games behind, it's a good time to remind everybody that glow sticks comprise chemical compounds.   Due to this fact precautions do have to be adopted.   
    To seek out out about glow stick security (and what you want to pay attention to), please take the time to learn this web site:   

    Flashlight Tag

    Have to plan forward for this recreation?   NO

    Greatest  for bigger teams of kids.     Select one particular person to be "it".  They should have a flashlight.    "It" must rely to 50, while the opposite youngsters cover.   When "it" sees one other participant he turns the flashlight onto them.    Everybody else, must keep away from being seen by the highlight.     In the event you get "flashed" by the sunshine, you at the moment are "it".

    Across the campfire video games

    There are many video games you'll be able to play sitting across the campfire.     The success of those video games relies on the scale of the group and the ages concerned.

    You may see the listing of 10 options at this web site Escape Adulthood.

    There are traditional video games reminiscent of charades, fact or dare, the winking murderer and ghost tales.   Ghost tales are enjoyable, however be sure you select age acceptable ones or you should have youthful youngsters up all night time worrying.   The scarier the higher for my youngsters however you want to use your judgement!

    Under are some web sites that concentrate on scary tales to inform across the campfire in case you are caught for concepts:

    Mashable
    Reddit Stories
    Creepy Stories to tell after dark

    Have to plan forward for this recreation?   NO

    That is just some video games to consider when the solar goes down, however the children nonetheless have power to play.  Adults may like a few of them too!

    Additional Studying:   Scavenger Hunt (downloadable ideas for you, and you can try them at night as well)

  • Camping activities for kids: 5 things to do with children when outdoors

    What can you do with kids when camping and they get bored?  5 ideas

    Is there a worse phrase in the world as “I’m bored?

    If you are a parent, I am pretty confident that you have heard this more than once.

    And whilst camping offers a lot to do, sometimes children fail to notice what is around them and might need some guidance.

    (If you are new to camping, take the time to read our 10 tips on camping with children.)

    There might some of you who think that kids don’t need entertaining if they are in the outdoors, as they should be exploring and being kids.

    And you are right.

    But, with the rise of children spending time indoors on screen based activities, there is a demise in outdoors play amongst children, and sometimes, we may need to do some encouraging to help them re-engage with the great outdoors.

    You can read more about importance of kids being outdoors here.

    We put together some activities you may want to do with your children next time you are camping.   You might already be doing a few of these, but might discover 1 or 2 that you are not.

    Before we begin......

    All suggestions below are for

    • day time
    • good weather 
    • I have also chosen activities that can be done if you are camping on your own, without other children nearby to entertain and occupy.    If you do have extra child campers  nearby then they can most certainly join in.
    • with minimal extra things to bring along (eg. canoes, fishing rods, bikes, craft items)
    • night time games for kids have a separate post - read it here

    1.    Go on a hike

    hiking with kids

    This is one of the main things we do on our camping trips.

    Not always long hikes, due to our youngest child, but getting out and seeing what is around the area we have camped in, is a great activity and you never know what you will see around that next bend.
     
    You do need to ensure you are prepared for the hike though – with adequate water, food and hats/sunscreen/first aid kit.

    Don’t wander too far away from camp if you are not fully prepared, and a GPS is a handy gadget to have, especially if you are not great at navigating.

    To find out more about hiking with kids, we recommend reading these detailed articles

    From Playstation to Trailhead – Introducing your kids to hiking

    Kids and Hiking

    2.   Scavenger Hunt

    Scavenger hunts can be easy or a little more complicated - it's totally up to you!

    If you are not prepared, you can just list a few items you know will be nearby, and get the children to run around and collect all the items.

    We also recommend a bit of planning - and bringing a Scavenger Hunt List.

    Small children like the chance to run around and find things on a list, as long as what is on the list is achievable.        The ability to find all the items on a list is going to be dependent upon their age and attention span.   Sometimes an adult might be needed to help the younger ones.

    You can read our Scavenger Hunt information (and get scavenger hunt PDF downloads) on this link.

    Older children don't get left out either.    You will see that we have catered to the love of screens, by combining a scavenger hunt with technology (photos and selfie scavenger hunt lists).

    3.  Geocaching

    geocaching

    photo credit: cachemania via photopin cc

    We have written about Geocaching before and you can read what it is all about here.

    It is like a variation on the scavenger hunt, but with a little bit more work.   The most comprehensive site to find out more is https://www.geocaching.com/play

    You do need to join up, but it is free.      Do this before you leave home.

    For a comprehensive overview of how it all works, view the 75 second video below

    4.    Campfire Building (and competitions)

    campfire building

    photo credit: cafemama via photopin cc

    If you are in an area where campfires are allowed, we often get our children to set up the fire to ready it for lighting.

    Getting kindling is their chore, and we make a game of it.   Who can get the biggest pile!   (saves parents looking for it).     This works well with younger children who haven’t yet figured out, its a chore.    Older children wise up faster, that it's not that thrilling to win this competition!

    If you have a lot of firewood sitting around and not immediately requiring it, the children can use it to build a sculpture - see how tall they can get it, and need to use every piece of firewood.   This encourages the child to be creative and learn about what works when building and what doesn't. Adding extras like leaves and rocks to their sculpture can help make it more attractive.   And its a lot of fun to knock down as well

    5.  Creating their own space

    tree fort

    photo credit: GerryT via photopin cc

    Fort building:   Perfect if you are in a bush setting, with lots of fallen branches.   If you are in a caravan park, this one is not for you.      The children collect branches to make a teepee style tent out of branches, or lean them against fallen trunks so they have a “secret” space.

    This fort can become quite territorial with children, so sometimes you might have to intervene when others want to “stay in the fort”.

    When my daughter was younger, she would create an area for the fairies and elves to visit at night.  That would take a lot of time, creating something special and pretty for the fairies to visit.  

    That’s not going to appeal to every child, but the concept is that they make an area which they call “their own” and decorate it with what nature has provided.

    Note:  Remind children that it is NOT OK to break off branches for trees or damage any part of the environment for this game.  

    Why I don’t recommend Board Games

    monopoly board

    photo credit: Ella's Dad via photopin cc

    This is recommended by lots of sites as an activity for kids when camping, and I have to say, its my least favourite option.
       
    The reason is that, if you have brought Scrabble/Monopoly/Pictionary or whatever game you have on hand, there tends to be a lot of bits and pieces to look after.     If outside, you have to deal with the weather elements which could play havoc to a game!     When parts of the game, go missing, that is when tension arises.

    In a tent, too easy for it all to get trodden on.   Card games would be a better option.

    Possibly those in a more controlled environment like a caravan, it could be a godsend, especially on rainy days, but overall, we don’t pack those sorts of games when we are tent camping.

    Need more ideas?

    This site has 30+ camping games for you to check out.


    This story first appeared in 2013 and has been updated for accuracy and additional information.




    Lead image by:  J.Fowler

  • Scavenger Hunts: Camping Activity for Children

    Outdoors camping scavenger hunts

    Scavenger hunts are very popular way to keep your children busy at the campsite, especially if they are getting a bit bored or restless.

    We talked about them in our Camping Activities for Kids story, and included some scavenger hunt ideas from other websites.    But one of them talked about bullet casings so that's not anything we come across too often on our camping trips.....so it was time to do our own!

    You can download any of these for your use on your next trip.

    With any scavenger hunt, just a few things to remember

    • adult supervision is always a good idea, especially for the young ones.   Don't let anyone wander too far away from you.   Set a boundary that all children must stay within.

    • remind children not to disturb other campers or go through other campsites in their desire to collect items.

    • having a time limit to collect all items keeps it interesting, but that might depend upon the ages of the children.

    • do not pick up anything off the ground if it looks unsafe.   Encourage children to speak up if they see something they are not sure about.

    • minimise any disruption to the environment.    Encourage only picking up of items that have fallen off trees and bushes naturally.

    • if you want to make up your own rules, make sure everyone knows them before the hunt begins.  It might stop arguments later on.      Prizes are optional for the winner.

    Outdoors Scavenger Hunt - For Younger Campers

    This scavenger hunt for these 12 items  is for the younger campers.    It lists lots of things you might find around a campsite here in Australia.

    If your child is too young to read, buddy them up with an older child or go with them yourself.  

    Nothing too tricky on this one but you should provide a bag for them to carry everything they find.

    To download this scavenger hunt and print it out before you go, at the bottom of the image, click on the arrow to save to your drive.  

    Photo Scavenger Hunt for Outdoors 

    This is for anyone who has access to a  smartphone/camera/iPod.    You need to take a photo of everything on the list as opposed to collecting and returning.

    I know some people say children shouldn't be using screens when going away, but this allows kids to access devices and be active and creative at the same time.

    To download this scavenger hunt and print it out before you go, at the bottom of the image, click on the arrow to save to your drive.  

    Selfie Scavenger Hunt for Outdoors

    Selfies are not going away anytime soon.      So embrace it with this scavenger hunt.

    The difference between the first photo hunt and this one, is that each scavenger hunt player must be in the photo with the list of items/challenges to complete.

    It's also a fun way to capture moments of your camping trip.

    To download this scavenger hunt and print it out before you go, at the bottom of the image, click on the arrow to save to your drive.  

    If  you liked any of these scavenger hunts, please feel free to download and use on your next camping trip.

    Want to see more like this, let us know.

    Other stories that might interest you:

    5 Reasons why you should take your children camping

    Kids Camping Gear Advice - what to buy and what not to

    Why getting your kids outdoors could save their eyesight

  • 6 Beginner Tips for a Stress Free Weekend Camping Trip!

    Tip for stress free weekend away camping trips





    If you are planning on packing up the car (or camper trailer/caravan) for an upcoming (long) weekend camping trip, you will be fully aware that your time is limited on this trip.      

    You want to make the most of this all-too-brief trip away from suburbia.  


    Camping shouldn’t be stressful.   It shouldn't be complicated. 

    It’s meant to be about relaxation and the outdoors but in order to achieve this, a little bit of planning and preparation will definitely help.       This applies whether it's a 1 night away from home, or 5 nights.   Planning does help. 

    The more experienced you get with camping, the easier the preparation is and the following tips become second nature.  You just do these tips without thinking too much (I am an ‘overthinker’ so this doesn’t apply to me!)



    We put together 5 tips based on our own experiences and our own weekend getaways.     

    This is what worked for us, especially when we were new to camping.  Hopefully these tips can help your weekend trip be an easier, less stressful one.



    Tip 1:   

    Don’t travel too far from home.




    If you only 1-2 nights away from home, you don’t want to spend hours and hours getting to and from your destination.    


    You want to start enjoying the outdoors ASAP.  


    Friends of ours travelled from Adelaide to Coober Pedy for a weekend which is 8 hours one way.    That was a good portion of their 3-day weekend in a car.   Yes, you can enjoy the scenery on the way, but it’s a camping trip and you may want to start camping  a little sooner.



    • Staying closer to home can mean less stress about arrival and departure times too, especially if you have to leave on a Saturday morning after school sport or working.
    • The negative of being closer to home is that a lot of other people have the same idea, and the closer you are to “civilization” might increase your chances of not getting the ideal camping spot, or at least having some solitude.
    • Investigate camping locations in the area you are planning to go.  Have a back up plan if your camping spot is full when you arrive (because bookings weren’t allowed).
    • If bookings are accepted at your campsite, then book before you go and at least you know you have secured a campsite. 

    Bonus tip:   Visiting a new location?   Try to investigate before leaving home to minimize aimless driving.  Check the route in advance.     Nothing worse that driving around lost, despite the GPS saying “you have reached your destination”






    Tip 2:  Pack light




    It is tempting to take ALL your camping gear on every trip “just in case” you need it.   



    • Think about your menu and amend your cooking gear accordingly.       

    We have lots of suggestions for beginners about camping food and how to pack and plan for camping.     Ideas such as amending your camping food box to only hold what you are cooking, making a meal ahead of time, and how to save space.  If you haven’t read this guide, check it out!


    • Think about your activities.    

    If it’s a short break, will you actually  have time to do all the fishing, kayaking, swimming that you wanted?       Maybe choose one activity and cater for that, as opposed to bringing gear for every activity.      



    Believe you and the family will be bored without all that gear?  Then bring lighter alternatives, like cards or use that time to go on a gear-free activity like hiking or just exploring.






    Tip 3:   Plan ahead



    How to have a stress free weekend camping trips - tips to make getting away easier




    Following on from packing light, plan ahead of your Friday night/Saturday morning departure from home.


    If possible, and your trip isn’t a spur-of-the-moment decision, planning what needs to be done before you head out.


    Sounds obvious, but if you can get your camping gear all ready to move out into the car mid-week (or the weekend prior) it’s easier on the day.


    • Collect all the bedding, tents, bags, cooking gear, non perishables etc in one area of the house or garage.      You can see what you have and don’t have at a glance.    You can also be ruthless (packing light again) and reorganize any key tubs of food/gear.





    • Have you got a meal made already and in the freezer?   Leave a big note on your esky to make sure you take it with you!     In fact, leave a note on your esky for any item that needs to be packed on the day.    Amazing how little things like margarine or cheese can be left behind in the rush.



    The idea about planning ahead is that you now have everything ready to go into your vehicle in one go and in one place.    There is no last minute running around looking for the kettle, or stove or sleeping mattress.         Your departure from home is faster, and that means your trip has one less drama associated with it!


    If you want more tips on how to pack (and what to pack in your car) for a camping trip, make sure you read our story on car camping.




    Planning ahead also means checking your car/camping vehicle is road worthy and filled with fuel before the trip.




    Tip 4:  

    Your menu (keep it simple) this weekend



    How to have a stress free weekend camping trips - tips to make getting away easier



    Travelling with others for the weekend trip.



    Share the meal (and planning for it).


    Each group is responsible for one main meal (which you have planned ahead of the trip – don’t just spring this idea on everyone when at the campsite in case they are not prepared).     It means you may have to pack less (packing light theory) and sharing the load with food preparation allows everyone to participate but not be saddled with all the work.


    Or if you enjoy pre-dinner drinks/nibbles around the campfire, then share that idea and prep work too.       


    It’s all about less work for everyone.




    Travelling by yourself


    You know you will be responsible for all the cooking, then choose meals that you feel comfortable in preparing, not meals that you will need to slave over the stove/campfire for hours.      You must enjoy yourself too.        Naturally, if you love preparing gourmet feasts that do take hours of work, then by all means, do it.         See tip 3 above - have a meal ready made before the weekend. 


    Your time is limited on this camp trip, so think about how you want to spend it.



    Final word on menu – if relying on a campfire for meals, make sure you know if campfires are even allowed at your location at the time of year you are travelling.





    Tip 5:   Check the weather in advance of departure




    How to have a stress free weekend camping trips - tips to make getting away easier



    Before any camping trip, it’s a good idea to check the weather forecast for the time you will be away.     Not always 100% accurate but it’s a guide to what lays ahead for you.


    Around mid-week, when you are doing some of the pre-planning, do investigate the weather forecast.      Check again the night before travel.



    • Rain/storms – you might want to rethink the whole trip.       It’s going to depend on your ability to be prepared for the rain and having the right gear to still enjoy a camping trip.      Small amount of rain shouldn’t stop you.  Torrential downpours could.      We have lots oftips for camping in the rain, and it definitely is still an option.







    Tip 6:  Returning home (keep that stress free too!) 



    Weekend over?  


    Then you do want to minimize the stress about coming home and heading back to work the next day (which is frankly, quite depressing!).  



    Firstly, pack up when there is still some natural daylight.     Trying to get everything back in the car when the light is fading (or gone) makes packing up harder.

    Depending on the time you get home, it might be dark, and you are tired.   So here’s what we recommend for the trip home


    • Have food in the house for that night, so you don’t have to head straight out to the shops.
    • Have food for the kids school lunches the next day if they are back at school, because once again, you don’t want to have to worry about heading to the shops
    • Unpack all gear from your vehicle with a special focus on drying any gear that was wet.       If you can be bothered to put all other gear back in correct spot, do so, but if tired, just leave till next day.
    • Follow the tips we list here on “caring for your camping gear” which includes, cleaning your gear, restocking, fixing and proper storage of gear.    These tips will make next trip much easier before departure.   







    Following some (or all) of the above tips will lead to a more stress-free weekend.        They do mean thinking ahead, but it will pay off on the day you leave.    


    You just need to pack the car and hit the road.     




    Enjoy your weekend away.

  • What sort of camper are you?

    What sort of camper are you?

    From the list below, I can see myself in quite a few of these stereotypes.   But not the guitar playing camper.   Our car wouldn't have room for that.

    What sort of camper is missing from this list?

    I think we need the obsessed campfire adjustment camper - you know, the one person who cannot leave the fire alone for a minute?  Always adjusting the logs to maximise heat output and no-one else can do it as well as they can?  Maybe this is the "Woodsman" camper??  

    If you spot someone you know in this list, share this story with them!!

    16 Types of CamperPlease include attribution to coolofthewild.com with this graphic.

  • Motorhome or Car Hire: Which One to Choose?

    car or motorhome hire? Which one to choose.

    Hire a motorhome or rent a car?   We share our story.

    When planning a recent trip to New Zealand, like many other tourists, we had planned to hire a motorhome (the bigger, fancier version of a campervan) to see this part of the world.      

    We could have gone camping in the more traditional way, but that would have meant taking a lot of our camping gear on the plane with us and the logistics of that (plus quarantine requirements) would be way too hard......  So a motorhome (or campervan) seemed like the perfect option.

    Purists of camping might be recoiling in horror that we were going to toss aside the tent in favour of a big diesel-hungry truck.    But that was the plan.

    So we booked our motorhome - toilet, shower, 6-berth.  The whole works.  No roughing it for us.   It was going to be a nice change from the tent and giving us a totally different perspective on camping, plus a unique way to see the countryside.  

    Four weeks after paying the deposit, we cancelled this hire, and booked a car.    

    So how and why did we do a total reversal on our choice of travel in NZ?  

    It was a combination of things, which would apply to hiring such a vehicle not just in NZ, but here in Australia too.   

    So to explain our reasoning, whether it be right or wrong, we decided to put together the story about why we changed our minds and what we learned along the way in making this decision.  

    From doing our own reading, it seems many people struggle with knowing whether to hire a car or hire a motorhome, so some further clarity couldn't hurt!

    Now, in the story we won't mention the name of the company with whom we initially chose to hire (you may be able to work it out on your own), but many of the reasons we list, tips we suggest, would apply to any hiring company.

    First up - the easy part:  Booking the motorhome

    motorhome campervan hire vs car hire - which one to choose?

    After viewing the huge variety of campervan/motorhomes available in NZ to hire, we sort of knew what features we wanted.    6-berth (eg. 3 beds), shower, toilet, fully self contained, awning, auto transmission.      

    We were going to travel in school holidays (a traditionally busy time) and we found that motorhomes do not come cheaply for hire.

    There are huge variations amongst the companies that hire these vehicles so shopping around for a deal that suits you is definitely something you need to do - and do it as soon as you can, especially if your travel dates are in peak season.

    I actually was surprised at the daily rate of the motorhomes.    In my head,  I imagined them to be a lot cheaper, but we weren't looking at one the campervans perfect for 2 people - ours was going to be a beast of a motorhome and consequently were paying a lot for that sort of vehicle.

    We chose a motorhome that met our requirements - it had a fairly good daily rate, compared to some other offerings of similar vehicles:  the daily rate does vary greatly amongst similar vehicles and companies.

    Booking online was easy and hassle free once we had decided on the vehicle and found it was available.

    Deposit paid!

    No second thoughts by us at this point......

    Second -  Reading Reviews is a wise move

    motorhome campervan hire vs car hire - which one to choose?

    We went with one of the biggest motorhome suppliers in NZ/Australia - going with a big one should be safer and have the best fleet of vehicles, theoretically.    The motorhome was meant to be no more than 12 months old which was important to us (maybe not important to you, but there you go).

    Only after we had paid the deposit, did we start reading incredibly negative reviews and stories about this particular company.      Stories that make your jaw drop with the horror treatment some customers have received.

     Look at TripAdvisor Forum and type in the name of the company you want to hire from.... you will see what I mean.

    The internet is full of unhappy customers and experiences of the company we were hiring from.

    Complaints ranging from broken or dirty or  dangerous campervans,  poor service everywhere, long waits to get their vans and return them,  non existent customer service before, during and after the hire, and shady business practices plus, long delays in refunds.   There are a lot of reviews out there, and the company we  had chosen seemed to have more than most - not just in NZ, but Australia too.

    Now, I realise that unhappy people are probably a whole lot more  eager to share their story than say happy customers, so we did take that into consideration.

    Would we say we made our decision to cancel based on  these reviews?  

    Not totally, but the reviews were so bad and so plentiful about this company, we just couldn't ignore them.  

    If we had ignored the reviews  and something untoward had happened, then I would be furious at myself for not paying more attention.    Of course,  everything could have gone perfectly, and I would have counted myself "lucky" not to be one of those people who had experienced some of the shocking motorhome experiences.    

    There are plenty of bad reviews for other motorhome companies too, and also plenty of glowing reports for other companies, but that was not going to help us, as we had already chosen to go with this particular company (because we had paid our deposit).

    Before You Hire Tips:

    Tip # 1:      Read online, other people's experiences of the company you are hiring from.    Try to balance what you read, and look at a variety of sites/forums to get a wide range of views.       Don't read the reviews placed on the company's own website because they are worthless.

    Tip # 2:   Rankers NZ is an excellent place to start - loads of information about car and campervan hire companies and everything else in New Zealand with real reviews.

    Tip # 3:    Type into Google  "(insert company name) motorhome reviews".  See what comes up in your search.

    Tip # 4:    Do  tips 1-3 before paying any deposit (we didn't, and that was an error by us)

    Insurance: Forewarned is Forearmed

    motorhome campervan hire vs car hire - which one to choose?

    Hiring a big vehicle is not exactly cheap and apart from the daily rate, there are daily insurance costs you can pay for to help reduce your excess (the amount you would pay in the likelihood of damage to the vehicle).      

    We knew the daily rate we had agreed to, so that wasn't an issue plus we knew we were not going to be paying the hirers own insurance;  we were going to book insurance with a company that especially covers rental excess. 

    This was a part of our homework we actually had done prior to committing to hire :   to not fall into the trap of paying the hirer's insurance (something you will get pressured to do at pick up of the vehicle).

    • You can save a lot of money on insurance with rental car/campervan companies if you don't pay their insurance but use a separate insurance provider that specialises in rental excess.    You should look at your travel insurance and credit card insurance options as well though you may find they have limitations - read on for further explanation.

    • Look at these sites below to read more about what you can expect to pay with them compared to what the hiring company will make you pay for insurance.  The daily rate difference is huge. They will cover things that the hiring company will NOT cover, like undercarriage damage, windscreens, tyres, demurrage.    Rentalcover.com seems to be the most comprehensive of the the two listed (or the easiest site to understand).
    (FYI:  Not affiliated with either of these companies, but believe they are worth investigating)

    Feedback from others  who didn't take out that separate insurance, is that you will be told horror stories when collecting your campervan, about all the costs you can expect to deal with, should you NOT take out the hiring companies daily insurance package.   Some cases, staff have been quite aggressive with customers when customers deny the hirer's own plans.

    • Choice Magazine has talked about this issue in the articles below which I recommend you read:

    Motorhome Insurance Tips:

    Tip #1  :  Do your homework on insurance and read all the terms and conditions about hiring before you commit to any hire.

    You will find that the terms and conditions may be a separate download/PDF, and you may have to search around the site to find it in its entirety.       Many sites just seem to give an abridged version at first glance, so look further on the website for the full agreement.    Know exactly what you are agreeing to and the conditions around the hire.

    Tip # 2:    Even though you may pay top dollar with the motorhome company's own insurance (eg. $35-65 extra per day) it doesn't always cover damage you think would be covered.   Eg.  windscreens, tyres and undercarriage and top of campervan.       This information will generally be listed in the agreement (see tip #1)

    You would  think paying that much money to the hirer, you will be OK for any damage, but that is not always the case.      The company we were hiring through (one of the BIG ones)  did not cover these items in 2017.     You will need your own separate insurance to cover those items if you want them covered, which makes you wonder, "why pay for their insurance in the first place, if you have to go elsewhere for full coverage".

    Tip #3:      If relying on travel insurance (or your credit card insurance) to cover you, find out what it actually will cover in relation to car/motorhome hire.  

    Make sure your insurance option covers the sort of vehicle you will be hiring.   Don't assume your camping vehicle is covered.

    Here is one set of exclusions, which I have found in at least 2 separate travel insurance Product Disclosure Statements:    

    Rental excess insurance does not cover  commercial vehicles, buses, minibuses, trucks, utes, full-size vans mounted on truck chassis, campervans, off-road vehicles and other recreational vehicles, trailers, motorbikes, motorcycles or moped and any other vehicles having fewer than four wheels, antique cars 

    Also, another exclusion found in travel insurance. This insurance does not cover items such as, but not limited to, tyres and/or windscreens if they are not covered by the motor vehicle insurance or damage waiver purchased from the rental company or agency


    Tip #4:     Demurrage is when your vehicle of choice is unable to be hired by others due to damage you incurred.    That vehicle is now off the road, and you can be charged the daily rate as long as that vehicle is not available to hire.      Does your insurance cover this?     A motorhome with a daily rate of $200+ could be expensive if off the road due to repairs.   Investigate.

    The Bond aka The Deal Breaker

    This was the deal breaker for us.  The bond we had to pay for the motorhome.     $7500.    

    That's not an imprint on our card - that money was to be deducted from our credit card at time of collecting the vehicle.     Some companies will not deduct money from your card, so that is one important thing to look for.   The company we chose was all about taking the money off us right from the start!    Once again, it was in the hiring agreement.

    Others will not deduct that money if you take their liability options (eg. insurance packages) - just imprint your credit card.   But if you say you have your own insurance, then expect that credit card deduction.    

    Once again, not all motorhome companies have bonds as high as this or do the deduction.     That is something you will need to look at on an individual basis.  

    Now, we did know about this bond when we paid the deposit (so we can't say we were blindsided) but we didn't think about the following:

    • Deduction of $7500 would incur 2-3% credit card fees when deducting, plus international credit card fees (if your CC charges them), currency conversion difference and, all of that would be on our credit card for 2 weeks of travelling.       That's at the start of the hiring process.   Getting the $7500 returned at the end of the hire period, means more charges when the money is returned.  
    • That's $7500 we don't have available on our credit card to spend on our holiday, and we need to make sure our card is cleared to have that much deducted in one go.
    • Don't think about trying to use cash to avoid this.     It's credit card only.    No pre-paid credit cards.      If you use 2 separate credit cards to make up the amount, you will have to pay all the charges listed above, twice. 

    • You can reduce the bond, only if you pay their daily liability rate.
    • Then when we return the motorhome at the end of the 2 weeks, it can take up to 2-3 weeks to get that money returned to us - and we can expect all those extra charges to be applied again, when the money is returned.     That's if nothing is wrong with the vehicle of course........

    Bond Tips:

    Tip #1:   Look at all the charges of hiring.  Not just the quoted daily rate.     Incorporate into the daily rate any fees that you will be charged by the hiring company, such as the fees mentioned above. A 2% charge on a bond of $7500 is $150.  

    Tip #2:    If you need a credit card, and worried about international charges, see if your bank has a no foreign transaction fee credit card.   If it doesn't, it may be worthwhile looking around at banks/credit unions to see if you can qualify for such a card.

    Tip #3:    Travel insurance rental excess varies greatly across policies.     Many we looked at did not have an excess that would cover $7500.     You may need to hunt around to find a policy that will cover that much of a bond.        

    Damage to your vehicle

    motorhome campervan hire vs car hire - which one to choose?

    I was understandably, a little worried about having $7500 on my credit card, especially in the event of an accident.

    It seems that a minor scratch to the motorhome could result in them holding the entire bond ($7500) whilst the damage was repaired, and then they would refund me any difference between the cost to repair and the bond.

    That could take weeks or even longer (based on reviews some people have waited months) - think of the interest you could end up paying if refunds take a long time?

    Yes, my own insurance would cover any damage to the vehicle in the end, but that still doesn't stop them having my $7500 during the repair process.   I would then have to claim from my own insurer.

    Lots of people get through their holidays totally unscathed, and I wanted to be one of them.    But a niggling doubt was playing over  in my mind, and being a total over-thinker, I was looking at the worse case scenario.  

    Did I want to spend my trip worrying about potential damage or the company claiming some damage that wasn't visible at time of pick up?     The answer was beginning to be very clear to me......

    Our biggest tip for hiring - check your vehicle closely, including spare tyres.  Get every single fault listed on the sheet before you drive away for your holiday.   No matter how small it is, or what the salesperson says, have it written down.

    Note:     We have read about people being told on return of vehicle they have sustained undercarriage damage to their campervans, even though the customer has no idea how it could have occurred - this is not an easy thing to check before you go, and I am not even sure what undercarriage damage looks like.      Just be wary of this issue that possibly could arise and as mentioned previously, many insurance packages offered by these hiring companies will NOT cover this.       That's why you might need separate insurance from someone who does.

    The day-to-day issues we considered when making our choice

    motorhome campervan hire vs car hire - which one to choose?

    If we forget about the bond, and the money and the risk of damage, the motorhome sounded like a real adventure and a beautiful way to see NZ.    

    But there were things we didn't want to deal with on this holiday at this point in our lives.


    They included:



    - didn't want to worry about emptying the toilet in the motorhome (sounds trivial I know, but if we are hiring a van with a toilet, chances are we will use it and it's going to have to be emptied)

    -making up beds and rearranging the layout of the van every night to create extra beds, and then having to undo it all again in the morning.

    - inability to "pop" into a town or shop without packing up everyone and everything

    - driving with everything we own to remote places whilst we went hiking (and leaving an ideal campsite to do so with the possibility of not getting a great spot to stay on our return).

    - greater fuel consumption and driving considerably slower to get from A to  B.

    - teenagers can be tricky beasts, prone to bouts of moodiness and sulking.    In a van, I would have no escape!!!

    - powered sites in caravan parks during a busy holiday season, squashed up near others, wasn't really what I had in mind

    - lack of privacy and space

    and finally

    We didn't miss the stress that goes along with driving a big vehicle with a $7500 bond on it!

    Weigh up what is important to you.    What was important to us won't apply to everyone.   I get that.

    Think about what you want from your trip, what you do and don't want to be doing as part of your holiday (especially if your time is limited).       All these thoughts came after the initial rush of excitement of booking our trip.

    Why we chose the car option? 

    motorhome campervan hire vs car hire - which one to choose?

    I know there are a lot of negatives mentioned in this story.  

    If it was all bad, no-one would hire a campervan.      So it's obviously not.     I have seen wonderful stories, blog posts and forum comments from travellers who have had fantastic adventures in their motorhome.   And judging by the amount of campervans on the road, it remains a very popular way of travel.

    A car seemed a better option for us as a family at this point in lives,  for the following reasons:

    • driving a car is something we are more familiar with, so more confident on narrow roads
    • allows us to readily get around towns and to National Parks without all our belongings in the car at all times
    • smaller, so more economical on fuel
    • cost of car hire
    • ease of parking in towns/tourist attractions
    • freedom to leave family members at accommodation if needed for a short trip (or escape!)
    • not in constant proximity with everyone due to being in cabins/motels/Homestays/serviced apartments
    •  more space at our accommodation to spread out and better bathrooms
    • something wrong/broken at our accommodation?   Not our problem as we will be on the road next day, and leave that issue behind.
    • it just seemed easier and less stressful

    It did mean we had to be a lot more organised in order to secure our accommodation, so researching and booking accommodation had to be done in advance, which meant our travel route had to be "locked" in.     No last minute change of mind on locations.

    The car insurance excess was $3500, and our travel insurance easily covers this rental car excess.

    • The daily cost for the car (SUV) was $60 per day.
    • The daily cost for the motorhome was around $200 per day (though some prices by other companies for similar vehicles were up to $300+ per day)

    Was a car cheaper?

    motorhome campervan hire vs car hire - which one to choose?

    We ran a spreadsheet detailing the cost of a motorhome vs car and accommodation.    It was coming out pretty much the same.      

    Not including fuel, which we couldn't calculate, but  incorporating all the hidden costs as well, we were finding that the 2 options were pretty even, and a few reasons why they were so similar are listed below.

    • Accommodation in school holidays for 4 people meant not staying in fancy hotels, but choosing self catering accommodation like cabins in caravan parks, or motel rooms and in other cases, Homestays (like Air BnB).     A family room(s) was required and you pay for that. 

    • Keep in mind that many accommodation deals are for 2 people.     We saw great deals via hotel booking sites but reality is, they weren't designed for a family.      Travelling as a couple, I can see how you could pick up great accommodation bargains, especially out of peak season/school holidays.          We really had to search regularly for deals and even 4 months prior to travel, many places were booked out (or very close).        If we had started booking later, then our accomodation costs would have increased dramatically due to lack of availability in peak times.    

      • We chose accomodation that had kitchen facilities to minimise need to eat out constantly for every meal, plus planned to take a soft-sided cooler  (see it here:  IceMule) to carry cool drinks between destinations with icepacks that could be frozen each night.     Once again, it was a little bit of pre-planning to help offset the lack of a motorhome kitchen.

      • For the motorhome, we would need to pull into powered sites every second or third day, and in some locations we would need to spend our entire time in one.    Powered sites also sound reasonable - but rates are frequently based on 2 people, with additional costs per person, at around $20pp.    It meant that some nights, a powered site would cost around $80 pn.       That was all factored into our spreadsheet.      These sites were considerably cheaper than of course, our motel options.
      • Using the DOC campsites with our motorhome would have meant costs for all of us under $20 pn.    A great bargain.

      I was expecting there to be a larger difference between the two modes of travel/accommodation but surprisingly, there was not (in our case).      

      • Time of year, and number of people travelling really made a huge difference.  If you have flexibility with the dates of travel, and can travel in low season, you could save considerable money on vehicle hire and/or accommodation options.     

      Conclusion

      We chose the car option for all the reasons listed above.  

      There was some disappointment in the beginning that our initial choice wasn't meant to be, but the more we read in the months leading up to the trip, the more confident we were with our decision to not take a motorhome.  

      This decision was reinforced during the trip - we were very happy with our decision.      We had no regrets.     None.     In fact, after travelling around, there was a sense of relief that we had chosen a car.

      Of course this doesn't meant that we wouldn't give campervan travel a go in the future.  We just might, but possibly without the children!!   I think we will be a lot more prepared and knowledgeable on the whole hiring of a vehicle and have a clearer idea on what we want from such a driving holiday.

      If you too, are pondering over motorhome vs car hire, we hope you can learn from what we did (or didn't do) in regards to making that choice.  

      Maybe you have thought about some of the things we did?  

      Or maybe we have given you some matters to investigate more thoroughly before committing?

      If its helped you make a decision on how you want to see NZ or Australia (car or motorhome), then we are happy to hear about it below.    

      PS.   Cancelling our motorhome hire, 3.5 months in advance of the trip, cost us $250 "admin" fee.    Once again, this was in the terms and conditions when we paid, so there was no surprise there, but it's easy money for them, as the whole booking was online.

    • Easter S’Mores: an Australian version of S'Mores

      S’Mores, the great American tradition are about to get an Easter twist, Aussie style.

      Mind you, we haven’t had the greatest success in the past making the traditional sort (that story can be found here)  but that isn’t stopping us attempting to recreate a S’More for around the campfire this Easter.

      The verdict?    Read on……

      Ingredients for Easter S’Mores

      Easter Smores

      Marshmallow shaped like Easter eggs  (there are also marshmallow bunnies or chickens in the shops, it just depend on what you want to melt)

      Easter S'More
      Flake or Twirl, or any chocolate that you think will melt reasonably fast, and can be squashed a little flat

      Easter SMore

      Arnotts Marie Biscuits  (and if you have access to Graham Crackers, then of course, use them!!).  But we didn’t and these seem to be about the right size plus were available readily!

      How to:

       

      Now comes the assembly line.    Get your biscuit ready, with the chocolate already on it, ready to go.  When the marshmallow is ready, time is of the essence.

      Easter SMore

      Roast the marshmallow  (we chose the one on the left to be first victim to a fire)

      Ingredients for Easter S'Mores

      and these particular marshmallows melted so fast, it was a bit freaky. 

      Place on the biscuit.

      Melted Smore

      Place another biscuit on top and squish down.   The chocolate may melt, but ours stayed firm.

      SMores Easter style

      Eat and enjoy.

      The verdict by younger members of family:     “Yum”  and “Messy”  .

      Adults opinion:   “God, that’s sweet”.

      And then we tried it all in the microwave, to reduce mess…….

      Pre-microwave

      Ingredients for Easter S'Mores

      Post-microwave

      Ingredients for Easter S'Mores
      Easter Smores

      Sugar overload!    

      Definitely only for those who like their sugar, not worried about calories, and mess.

      (or check out this S'More variation - Nutella and Banana S'Mores)

      Editors note:  This story was first published back in 2013, and has been updated for accuracy and relevancy.   

    • WIN!!! A mozzie-free picnic pack!

      Summer camping with mosquitoes - win from Hovex

      We were on a camping trip, enjoying the serenity of our summer getaway until the mosquitos arrived in force.    There was no respite from them.  They were everywhere - on us, our food, our gear - everywhere, day and night.  It was so bad, we had to retire early to our tent, spraying the tent copiously with flyspray to try to avoid being eaten alive.

      Mosquitos are the downside to summer nights.     If at home, on a picnic or like we were, camping, they are incredibly annoying.

      Our friends at Hovex feel the same.    They want to make outdoors more appealing and want you outdoors, enjoying our amazing country.        Hovex has created a new, and world first,
      vapour active technology to provide invisible and odourless protection against flies and mosquitos for up to six hours.

      Yes, flies too!!!

      Did I mention how much I hate flies as well?      Mealtimes, where you spend more time brushing flies off your food than you do eating isn't fun.  

      The Hovex Vaporgard Outdoor Fly & Mosquito Shield is a simple, no mess solution for entertaining outdoors will leave your guests scratching their heads (and not because they’ve been bitten by mosquitoes!) wondering how you managed to keep the insects at bay.

      This highly effective product forms a ‘no fly zone’. Simply spray the surface around the outdoor area you want to protect to create a vertical barrier around your outdoor activities.   What that means for you, is up to 6 hours protection, and you can leave the citronella candles at home.

      So do you want your next picnic, camping trip or backyard BBQ to be mozzie and fly free?  

      If you do, and want to be one of the first to enjoy this technology,  thanks to Hovex, we have 5 picnic packs to share with you.



      Hovex Prize Pack




      The Prize


      Each pack has  Hovex Vaporgard that you can enjoy on the picnic blanket, whilst you and the family play cards or Go Fish set (all included, total value $60 per pack).

      • Need more information about this all-Australian brand, Hovex?  Then read more here
      • Can't wait to get this Fly & Mosquito Shield?  Head to Bunnings to pick up your own can there.

      How to enter?

      Easy as always.     Enter via the Rafflecopter app below.

      Competition is open from 21 February 2017 and closes 6 March.

      Open to Australian residents only.

      a Rafflecopter giveaway

      mosquitoes suck fat instead of blood humor

    • How to stay cool when camping: 7 tips to help

      7 tips for camping in summer

      Being uncomfortably hot, sweaty in places you didn't know you could sweat, and no prospect of getting cool anytime soon isn't an enjoyable experience.    

      My choice wouldn't be to say "hey, let's go camping now that the temperature has reached 40 degrees".    I would probably say "let's stay home" but it may not always be an option.    A camping holiday planned for weeks might just have to go ahead, and you need to adapt to the weather conditions.    And let's remember the plus side of summer - the beautiful balmy nights it can give us, with perfectly clear evening skies!

      But how can you make those warm days more bearable?  Less likely to feel miserable in the heat?

      We put together 7 tips that can help alleviate some of the heat you might be feeling or at least help make camping a little cooler for everyone present.

      camping in hot weather with an a/c

      1.     Position your campsite

      When setting up a campsite, you need to look at a number of factors. 

      To help keep you  cooler, remember to check the location of where you plan to set up – look to place your accommodation for the night in the area where it will get the most afternoon shade.     Don’t forget that what is shady at 10am is not like that at 3pm.

      Near water?    Position your camping site to maximise any benefits from breezes coming off the water.  The downside about being near water is that it may increase the level of mosquitoes near your camp, so you need to weigh up your options and work out if you want breezes and bugs.

      When setting your tent up in this shady spot, remember that camping under some of our large gum trees can be very hazardous.    Choose your trees wisely.     

      Extra helpful reading:      Not sure about choosing a campsite during the year, regardless of the season?  Then we have 7 helpful tips on choosing a campsite

      2.     No fly on the tent

      Mountain Hardwear Drifter 3

      Our smaller dome tents, without the fly, gives us, a mozzie-free night, as we are enclosed all in the mesh, and with total view of the night sky.   This maximises the ability to get cooler air into the tent.    These tents are a great choice for hot weather.

      If you are travelling in a bigger tent, then your options to leave the fly off may not be possible or may not result in significant changes.  

      Ensure you open up all doors/windows on tent to maximise cross breezes, and set up the tent as late as possible (ie. when the sun goes down) to avoid heat building up in the tent.

      Nylon tents heat up more quickly than canvas tents, though nylon allows the air to escape more easily too.
          
      You may not have a choice of what tent to take, but we would recommend a dome tent with 4 sided mesh as a great option for those warm nights (pictured above is  our tent, Mountain Hardwear Drifter 3)

      3.    Purchase 12 volt fan

      12 volt fan

      Lack of air circulation makes a hot night unbearable.    The movement of air, though not cooling the air itself, will help you as the air circulates.
         
      They range in price, and are available at auto shops and 12 volt specialist companies, but from what I read, to get a good one (works efficiently, silently and economically) will cost.
          
      A recommended brand by others for caravan use seems to be the Caframo Sirocco .  Hunt around though for the best deal with this product – purchasing from the USA might be cheaper.

      For a cheaper option, you could look a

      The fans designed for camping (and requiring batteries)  means an additional cost to you; that is  something you need to take into consideration when buying, especially if they are not rechargeable.      It depends on how much you want to spend on powering these fans, and how long you want to run that fan for - battery life will vary based on run time and settings.     Investigate!

      Of course there is always the option of getting a 240w fan, and using with an inverter – they generally are larger fans, and therefore going to greater breeze but if its suitable for you will depend on space, portability and if you have the necessary accessories to power it.

      4.     Sleep in a hammock

      camping hammock

      Looking to maximise the cooler nights?   Then hammock camping is an option to think about.
          
      We have written about this form of camping quite a bit before, and if you want to know more about it, check out

      Introduction to hammock camping – swinging in the breeze

      7 tips for hammock camping

      Skybed hammock review

      If no hammock, sleeping under a tarp another option, though bugs could be an issue!

      If you are looking for other sleeping options - a camping stretcher/cot allows air to circulate under the cot, instead of a mattress.    You may find it cooler being a little elevated/off the ground.      

      5.       Tarp over your tent

      If you have this option, another way to help reduce heat on your tent, is to string a tarp over the tent, leaving enough room for air to circulate between tent and tarp.   It provides another layer of protection from the sun.

      A little bit more work, but the benefits will be noticeable. 

      6.    Hydration and clothing

      In our previous story on camping in summer, we emphasised the need to bring water and more water.     It’s timely to include this fact again as a way to keep cool.   Plenty of water as opposed to soft drinks, caffeine and alcohol will help keep you hydrated.
          
      Children dehydrate quickly, so remember to watch their hydration closely

      Not near the ocean or a lake?  

      If space allows, a small blow up pool filled with water is a great way for children (and pets) to keep cool.   If it gets too hot, you can join them!

      Proper clothing for conditions should include cotton clothing, light coloured (to reflect the heat), wide brimmed hats and adequate sun protection for the body.     There are clothing items that draw sweat away from the body, and have built in SPF protection – worth investigating if hot weather camping is going to be on the itinerary.

      7.    Suitable activities for the weather

      outdoor swimming

      If you are camping near water, your time will probably be spent in it!     That would be the best way to keep cool and one of the only reasons I would be found in a tent in summer – because we have a major water source right next to me!

      If you don’t have a lake or ocean to laze by, your activities need to be altered to suit the weather.        Early morning starts for any activity, so you can rest in the heat of the day.
         
      If you have access to air conditioned locations (shops, tourist attractions, caravan park facilities) utilise them in the warmest part of the day, so you are not sweltering at your campsite.
           
      We camped in the Northern Territory, and remain very thankful that Kings Canyon Resort had a swimming pool where we could spend the afternoons!

      If you are heading out camping this summer, hope these tips make your camping experience a bit cooler.
          


      Editors note:  This story was first published in 2014 and  has been updated to provide accuracy and comprehensiveness.

  • 5 tips you need to know about camping in summer

    5 tips for hot days camping outdoors

    Summer is here and when the temperature rises, some of you may embrace the outdoors and get that camping gear ready to go.  

    Katarapko  camping in summer 

    Me?  I have to be somewhere cool on a hot day.   

    Camping by water is a must, so you have somewhere to keep cool and wash off the grime and sweat of the day!     If I don’t have this, then, I am going to put our camping on hold temporarily.     Being in a tent when its warm is not pleasant for anyone.

    If of course the temperature looks like climbing and I am committed to a camping trip, there are some considerations to think about.   Actually some of the following tips apply any time of the year, but others are more crucial in summer.

    We think there are 5 things you need to think about to make that camping trip a little more pleasant.  

    1.      Don’t forget a well stocked First Aid Kit

     

    • First Aid kits should be something you take each and every time when you go camping.   But in summer, just remember that you might need to check it, re-stock and add to it.

    • Insect repellent for the mosquitos and flies is crucial.     

    • You might want to even think about getting a net to go over your head to reduce the annoyance these bugs give you in summer!

    • If you get bitten, something to soothe the bites should be in that first aid kit too.      One suggestion for mosquito bites is to rub the bite with a piece of dry soap.    It doesn’t work for me, but others swear by it.

    • Summer means snakes, so a pressure immobilsation bandage should be included too.   This bandage can be used on funnel web and mouse spider bites too.    We have one in our backpacks for our hikes in summer.  

    • And if you are not too sure about First Aid, you should look into doing a course, or there is an app for your phones which could assist you in managing an emergency situation.  See details of the St Johns app here.

    • Don't forget the sunscreen – and plenty of it.

    snakes-and-scorpions-73141289450846KIF

    Image source: Jere VanLoan

    2.   Keep food and drinks cold.

     

    Sounds basic doesn’t it?

    But food that is not properly chilled is going to be

    • gross
    • inedible
    • dangerous to consume

    And nothing spoils a camping trip faster than food poisoning.

    So if you want to know how to decrease the chances of a funny tummy and keep food cool, we suggest you read our Top 10 tips for keeping food cold.

    The tips mentioned in this story are all very achievable and won't break your bank!   

    One important tip is that you might  have to be prepared to move your food/drinks around the campsite to wherever the sun is not throughout the day.   

    freeimage-5043681

    Image source:  here

     

    3.    Look at your campsite before you set up

     

    So you have found a great spot to set up?     You all jump out and start unloading….and then the day progresses and the sun now beats down on your once shady cool spot…..

    A bit of thinking before you set up is in order. 

    • Before you unpack, look at the time of day and where the sun will be in the afternoon.    The heat of the day is when your campsite, especially your tents/trailer, is going to need that shade.

    • Have you checked for ant hills in your campsite?    We didn’t once, and found we were camping near inch ants.    And their bite is so painful.  Trust me on this one!!!

    • Additionally Hopper Ants (Hopper ants are native, and found in Tasmania, country Victoria, New South Wales and the ACT, and parts of South Australia and can hop 20 cm in one bound!!). They can cause severe allergic reactions, so check your site closely for these painful sort of insects.

    • Don't forget to watch the trees where you are too - heat stress can cause branches to drop without a breath of wind around.     It's never recommended to camp under trees, but do be extra wary of gum trees.

    hopper ant

     

    4.    Bring water and then, more water

     

    Water when you go camping is important at any time right?    But in summer, it takes on a new importance as dehydration is dangerous, and physical activity in the warmer months can make dehydration a greater possibility.

    Ensure your children are given plenty of water throughout the day too, as little ones can dehydrate quickly.

    Don’t count on the site having clean drinking water available – if you can, check in advance, but if camping remotely, you will need to bring water with you.    

    Many campgrounds have water that is  not safe for drinking.  Always check before consuming, and if in any doubt,  sterilise your water.    If you are not sure about water filters,tips for summer camping

    5.    Know the rules

    Summer in Australia means bushfires.     And fire bans are put in place for a reason.      The ban on campfires in National Parks and Forest Reserves is generally from November 1st through to April 30th, but this can vary from state to state.   So check.

    • There are different rules on Total Fire Ban days and Fire Danger Season.    It’s important that you know the difference.

    Some sites to check for this information and anything in regards to fire include:

    South Australian CFS
    Country Fire Service Victoria
    Department of Fire & Emergency Services WA
    Queensland Rural Fire Service
    NSW Rural Fire Service
    Tasmania Fire Service
    Northern Territory Fire & Rescue Service

    If you are allowed a campfire where you are, remember that if you are collecting wood nearby, check the wood closely before you pick it up (insects, spiders and reptiles underneath could make you need that First Aid Kit).

    And if you do have a campfire, extinguish completely….if its hot to touch, its too hot to leave.

    Not sure how to put out a campfire?   Read these steps to putting out a campfire properly.

    campfire with dutch oven

    They were just 5 tips to think about before you head out camping this summer.  So are you ready to head outdoors in the warm weather?

    Editors Note:  This story was first published in 2012 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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