My husband and I used to be keen campers before we had children. This probably stemmed from how we met – on a budget camping safari through South Africa, Namibia and Botswana. We continued camping, sometimes in the car, sometimes on bikes or on foot in places such as Scotland, Cyprus, Australia and England. We loved the peace and tranquillity. The slower pace of life and getting away from routines in a new place allowed us to sample all the different things around us.
Our last camping trip before we were blessed with children was a cold and snowy weekend in the central Highlands of Tasmania when I was four months pregnant with our first child. Morning sickness in a tent wasn’t a pleasant experience!
After Olivia was born, our camping forays unfortunately stopped and were replaced with weekends away in cabins and longer holidays in apartments. As new parents we didn’t feel up to coping with a baby crawling in mud, a toddler eating wallaby poo (which abounds in many bush campsites), or all the wet nappies and perceived problems. Our daunted perception to camping continued until after our second child Harry was 18 months old. By then we were desperate to get back out into the elements and have some fun! We’d begun to realise that we were spending a lot of time at home, and not enough off seeing what there is around us. We longed for new experiences and to once again enjoy the thrill of being outdoors under canvas.
This lead us to consider what type of camping set up would work best for us. We didn’t want a tent because of all the organising and packing required to get everything from its storage places every time we wanted to go away. We wanted trips away to be fun, not daunting, and with a 1 and a 3 year old time to spend organising and packing was somewhat limited. We thought about a caravan. This would allow everything to be stored ready to go. All we would need to pack would be food and clothes. Storage for a caravan however was a problem at our house. For the four of us we needed at least four beds and caravans in our price range with four beds were very old and heavy to pull with our family sedan.
In the end we opted for a camper trailer. It has some storage room (although not as much as in a caravan) so most things could be packed in it permanently ready to go. It has two double beds which pull out on the sides giving us plenty of sleeping and playing room. There is a built in sink which plumbs to a tap, a gas cooker with grill and electric light which runs from mains electricity or a battery. Our new trailer even has a fridge. It’s great!! Also it’s small and easy to store at home and not too heavy to pull behind the car.
We have initially bought a fairly old camper trailer – it’s nearly as old as me, being built in 1976. It is quaint with its 70’s styling, lime green laminex and carpet on the walls inside. But it is really well built, solid and so far hasn’t leaked.
The day we bought it we just couldn’t wait to get inside it and try it out! We put it up at home and ate dinner at the table inside and then we all snuggled down for the night to test out the beds. It was great fun, and thankfully there was plenty of room for us all on one bed! Our family bed would of course be accompanying us on our camping trips!
We’ve had lots of trip away over the summer since we bought the trailer. Some not far from home, others ventured a bit further away. We’ve seen new places, met new people and had loads of fun. Olivia who is now 4 loves meeting new people and riding round the campsites on her bike. Her social skills have really improved since we have been going away in the trailer. She seeks out other children to play with and if none are around she enjoys making friends with adults. It’s wonderful to see her cycling along saying good morning to people at the campsite. Harry, now almost 2 also loves the trailer. It has wheels and is pulled by the car – what more does a small boy need? He can’t wait to get to the campsite and check out everyone else’s towbar or boat trailer.
Kieran and I love being able to take the kids away, easily, cheaply, to a myriad of places not far from home and in a relaxed and fun way.
Winter in Tasmania is a bit cold and dark for camping, but we have already got our first trip planned for spring. We also have a big trip to Melbourne planned for the Christmas holidays. The kids can’t wait to take the trailer on the overnight ferry across Bass Strait, and neither can we.