With only four days left before we leave for a two-week camping trip in Golden Bay, it’s not surprising I’ve woken at 3am with my mind buzzing with a swarm of things I have to do before we go. Besides getting myself organised and ensuring we’ve got enough food to survive on, I’ve got a whole bunch of Christmas related dos to organise/attend/survive before we leave.
So after the big build up to Christmas, (which incidentally also includes my birthday a week before – just so you know) the idea of lounging around and sipping (plunger) coffee in the morning sun, or 3pm naps in a warm tent is entirely beguiling.
But while happiness is entirely a state-of-mind thing, I’ve learned through experience there are some small things that can make a camping trip that much easier, simply by going the extra mile when packing your gear. So take heed campers, save yourselves unnecessary hassle and make sure you pack the following:
1. Enough food – I’ll be honest; I love cooking and I’m quite particular about what I eat, even when camping, so I’d much prefer to organise the menu myself than risk being served up sausages, bacon and bread for 14 days. But there’s been a few times when I haven’t packed enough food much to the dismay of poor Mike, whose appetite seems to double when we’re on holiday. So to avoid rationing out food every day, like some sort of food nazi, I’ve found it much easier to pack extra dry goods including crackers, cheese, salami, wraps, canned beans, tuna, pasta, tomato sauce, that are easy to prepare and eat, but won’t spoil if they don’t get used. And chocolate, you can never have too many cakes of chocolate.
2. Spare batteries – I know it kinda goes without saying, but take more than you think you’re likely to use. Because batteries come in weird numbers, like 4xAAA, when my head torch only requires three, I end up with all these batteries floating around that may or may not have been used. Sure they’re another expense, but suck it up, because they’re worth it – and again they’ll keep for the next trip if they don’t get used.
3. Can opener – Buy one especially for the camping kit, don’t try to pack it before you leave because you’ll never remember it. We carry a Swiss army knife in the camping kit now, because the fail safe can opener and other gadgets usually come in handy.
4. Lighter/matches – Basic. Try cooking your food without a lighter. Or how about that campfire on the beach you’d been planning? Granted there’s never a lighter far away in a busy campground, but there’s no worse feeling realising you don’t have the means to cook your food or heat water. Chumps.
5. Pack of cards – This small item helps while away the lazy hours between sunset and bed, and is one of very few things you can do within the confines of a tent, when it’s pouring with rain out. Cards prompt conversation, help sharpen your wit and provide hours of entertainment, heated competition and stormy debates. A camping trip without them is like not having enough food. It’s just wrong.
6. Toilet paper – When I asked Mike for some input into this blog, this was top of his list. All the comforts and benefits of the humble bog paper go without saying. Just make sure you’ve got some tucked away, and you’ll be the hero of every camping trip.
7. Spare footwear – I’ve been caught out by this so many times, it’s getting ridiculous. But who could foresee that you’d burn your only pair of footwear when drying them out too close to the fire – on the first day? Or that it would rain every day of your camping trip? Of course you don’t even entertain the thought of such things happening, but if you don’t plan for it, chances are you will get caught out. Just pack the gumboots even though you won’t use them. Trust me, you won’t regret it.
8. Fuel – Cooking, car and boat. Check them all!!
9. First Aid Kit – You definitely need to be prepared to care for someone in the very high likelihood of minor bumps, scratches, sprains, splinters, sunburn, headaches and dehydration and also for more serious injury, including burns, deep cuts and allergic reactions. I check and update our first aid kit regularly and find that antiseptic wipes, rubber gloves, strapping tape and sterile dressings are the most commonly used items.
10. Christmas presents – Waking up in the great outdoors on Christmas morning? It won’t be much of a Christmas if you forget the pressies, especially when you see your fellow campers pulling out their new unicycles, kites and parasols.
Well that’s it, while not exhaustive, take from it what you will. Wishing you all the best weather and very merry times these summer holidays.