‘I grew up with ‘camping parents’. These are my 4 tips for a budget-friendly holiday.’

When I was growing up, I unequivocally had ‘camping parents’. And I hated it. Almost every school holidays, my sisters and I were bundled up in the car and we took off on the highway for hours on end to reach some faraway place. 

Our travels took us north to Cape Tribulation, west to Broome and deep into the heartland of Australia in the dusty plains of the Simpson Desert. I got to see parts of this sprawling country that many people never will. And yet I was a total brat about it and longed for an exotic holiday overseas.

Hindsight is an interesting thing. Since becoming a mother for the first time I have a whole new perspective about the effort my parents went to in order to show my siblings and I the great wonders of this world. If I really think about it, our camping holidays were actually some of the best times of my life. We would explore beautiful beaches, we visited homes where outback kids were learning via school of the air and we found endless fun away from TV screens. It was perfect.

Watch: Some of our hot tips for your next vacation. Post continues after video.

Video via Mamamia.

Undoubtedly, 2023 was an incredibly challenging year for many. With the cost-of-living crisis gripping the nation (and the world) many families have been doing it tough. Providing nourishing meals has been hard enough, so it’s safe to say the idea of a family holiday of any kind has fallen by the wayside. With challenging times expected to continue through much of 2024 it might seem like a ‘break’ or a ‘getaway’ just won’t be on the cards for a while. 


But what if there was a way to go on a family holiday on a shoestring budget that packs a punch when it comes to activities and fun? In 2024 I’m officially committed to becoming a fully fledged camping mum and I’d like you to join me.

Tips for a camping holiday.

Get cracking on the set-up.

The first part of unlocking your camping mum era will ultimately source everything you’ll need to head on on your first trip. If this immediately sets off alarm bells with dollar signs flying everywhere, I’m here to tell you that there’s a way to keep costs down. First, it’s important to note you don’t need all the bells and whistles to start off with. Just invest in good quality basics and build from there over time. With end-of-year (and new year) sales aplenty now is the perfect time to start your base.

Think: tent, camping stove and kitchen utilities. Make a list of everything you might need and begin to source while bargain hunting. Over the years you’ll be able to add to your equipment and before you know it, you’ll be a fully fledged camping mum with all the gear and ALL the ideas.

Reap the added benefits.

When I was a kid with camping parents carting me around the country, I completely resented them for ripping me away from watching TV or playing at home. I now realise they gave me the most incredible gift that set me up for life.

Studies show that getting your kids outside and exploring in nature comes with a whole host of benefits. Taking your kids on a camping holiday will build their confidence (through unstructured open-ended play), teach them responsibility (by encouraging them to help set up camp) and will help develop a sense of creativity and imagination by exploring interactive new natural spaces. I want all of that and more for my daughter and I know I can give her that by taking her to incredible places while camping.


Listen to This Glorious Mess where one dad shares when he packed up his kids and went on the road to go camping for one year. Post continues below.

Me camping as a child (yes that's a dingo). Image: Supplied.

Show off our beautiful country.

As I grew up and expanded my social circles I quickly realised how unique my holiday experiences were. I discovered that few people had been given the opportunity to explore all the stunning parts of Australia as I had throughout my childhood.


As we move through life, we have so many times where we can head overseas and we often overlook the very beautiful places we have on our very own doorstep. Go old school and get out a map of Australia and start building a wish list of places you’d like to go with your kids. There are some awesome resources available for these days that can help you figure out the best child-friendly camping spots.

First up on our list? The Basin at Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park. We’re keeping it local in case it all goes awry! As I build my confidence as a camping mum I plan to expand our horizons and venture out into that gorgeous great outdoors. 

Build memories that will last a lifetime.

As much as I wished I was off on a glamorous overseas holiday like many of my friends when I was a kid, I now wouldn’t change a thing about the way I was brought up.

The memories I have from our camping holidays I will cherish forever and I hope I can help make them for my daughter. Money might be tight right now but just because we aren’t splashing out on lavish holidays to Europe, I know that won’t matter at all in the long run. What matters is the effort we put into taking our kids on adventures — even if it is just 20 minutes down the road to spend the night at a National Park. Because at the end of the day, that’s where the real magic happens and your kids will hold on to those memories for a lifetime.

Are you a camping family? Share your tips in the comments section below.

Featured Image: Supplied.

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