Camping is a great way to spend time together outdoors as a family. It’s also a relatively cheap and sustainable way to holiday. Here are some tried and tested tips to consider for your next family camping trip.

Beg, borrow or hire

Buying new camping equipment can be a big financial burden on a family, particularly if you’re not sure how often you will use it or what exactly you need. Try borrowing equipment from friends, buying second hand, or hiring equipment instead.

Ditch the disposable

The temptation to use disposable dinnerware when camping is all based on a sense of false convenience. Consider the production line behind the creation of that throw-away plate, and then decide whether it’s really a convenience or not.

Similarly, avoid bottled water by investing in a large reusable water tank that can be filled up from the tap at home. You’ll minimise waste and save money at the same time.

Go go gadgets

While part of the appeal of camping is getting back to nature, there are plenty of great gadgets designed to make your experience easier.

Consider hiring or investing in a solar panel or solar LED lights. A camp fridge powered by solar or a generator can make food storage easier during summer. Good quality head torches for each camper are crucial, and wind up hand-held torches, solar radios and phone chargers will be convenient and help occupy restless young campers.

Sort your waste

Going on holidays is no reason to become complacent about waste. Bring plastic tubs with lids that will enable you to sort your rubbish and recycling at camp and then bring them home for proper disposal. Show the kids what to do – they’ll get the idea pretty quickly.

Consider your environment

Choose natural insect repellents and sunscreens, and use greywater-safe or biodegradable cleaning products like dish liquid and soap.

With that in mind it is still never okay to dump sudsy water into a natural water source like a creek. The soap suds can harm aquatic life, particularly in frequently used areas near camp sites. Instead, the safest way to dispose of contaminated water is to dig a hole about 50 metres away from any water sources and bury the waste water there.

Be water wise

Nothing will make you more aware of your daily water consumption then having to tote it all to your camping site. Conserve water by washing your dishes in one bucket and turning off the shower when you’re not using it. If your campsite doesn’t have showers, consider using a solar shower while standing in a large plastic tub. The tub will collect any contaminated water, or double up as a bath for a baby or young child.

Campfire alternatives

We know there’s no real alternative to a campfire but you can still melt your marshmallows on a portable camp stove. And a nice way to meet camp friends is to share a single camp fire with others to minimise the impact on the environment – we all know camp fires add to air pollution (CO2 emissions) and aren’t very good for your lungs. They can also attract wildlife into your camp, foraging for human food scraps rather than hunting for natural food sources within their ecosystem.

Practice makes perfect

If you’re not sure how your kids will react to camping, try a practice run at home in the backyard. If you’re going to skip the practice run and go straight to the real deal, ensure you’re flexible. While planning is crucial to the success of a camping trip, flexibility and a sense of humour is what can make or break a family holiday in the great outdoors.