Family camping trip packing tips

On the road ... Camping trips don't have to cost much, but can create lasting family memories.
On the road ... Camping trips don't have to cost much, but can create lasting family memories. 

We asked EB members to share their camping tips on what to pack, where to sleep, what to cook and how to keep the family safe. Here's their advice.

In the current financial landscape, families are finding different ways of having holidays on a budget - holidays that can create fantastic memories, too. Camping holidays are a way of saving costs on expensive accommodation costs, and once you have your kit/setup/gear, the price is fairly minimal.

What to pack: the basics

  • Tent
  • A groundsheet
  • Mallet to knock pegs in
  • Clothes and hats
  • Sail or shade/shelter
  • Paper, firestarters/matches
  • Plastic bags for rubbish
  • Dustpan and broom
  • Torches (with extra batteries)


  • Small shovel if you’re camping where there are no toilet facilities
  • Potty if your kids are toilet training
  • A portaloo can be good if you’re not at an established camp site and are planning future camping holidays
  • Toilet paper
  • Wipes are very handy for a lot of things – they’re not just for babies!
  • Tub that can be used as a baby bath, but that can also be used for storage
  • Towels
  • Sunscreen
  • First aid kit
  • General toiletries
  • Thongs for the shower if you’re at a caravan park
  • Nappies/wipes/cream for younger kids
  • Small bucket and laundry soap for hand washing
  • Portable clothes line or string and pegs


  • A good mattress/blow-up mattress
  • Air pump for mattresses
  • Pillows (blow-up mattress pillows can be uncomfortable)
  • Sleeping bags
  • Internal sheets for sleeping bags so you can turn down in case it gets hot
  • Extra blankets in case it’s cold
  • If you’re at a powered site, you might want a fan for hot nights


  • Food
  • Can opener
  • Bottle opener
  • Esky
  • Boxes with secure lids for keeping food in and insects out
  • Portable gas stove (if you’re not going to use the facilities/BBQ)
  • Good heavy iron pot
  • A good fire grate if you want to cook over the fire
  • Small utensils kit (or plastic throwaway plates and utensils)
  • Portable fold-up table & chairs
  • Mugs for hot chocolate (and don’t forget the marshmallows!)
  • Gas bottle (check that it’s full before you leave)
  • Portable hot water system can come in handy


  • Games and puzzles
  • Radio/iPod/iPhone with speakers
  • Lots of kids’ toys
  • Inflatable pool toys/floaties
  • Glow necklaces are fun for kids and great for parents to spot them
  • Books/magazines
  • Camera (and charger)

How to keep the kids safe

  • Insist children stay within the sight of adults at all times
  • Most caravan parks have rules about riding bikes with curfews and cars have speed limits – check what your caravan park rules and curfews are, then make sure the kids know too
  • No going near water without an adult – this includes the pool and any nearby rivers/dams
  • General snake/spider awareness
  • Teach them they’re not to go in other people’s tents
  • Tip: have the car serviced before you take the trip, making sure the tyres have enough air, the oil and water levels are fine, etc

Thinking of heading on holidays? Talk to other parents in the Essential Baby family travel forum for tips, ideas and inspiration.