Getting camp-assionate: How to improve your summer camping experience

Echo Point campsite on Albert River Circuit in Lamington National Park in Queensland.
Echo Point campsite on Albert River Circuit in Lamington National Park in Queensland.

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There's no denying that Australians are spoiled for choice when it comes to idyllic camping destinations.

Our unique island continent is virtually covered in serene bushland getaway destinations from head to toe.

National parklands like Wilsons Promontory in Victoria, Coffs Harbour in New South Wales, and Western Australia's Margaret River likely occupy a fair chunk of our most beloved childhood camping experiences.

Of course, it's one thing to be a kid without a care in the world on your family camping trip, but it's another to be planning the trip on your own.

Suddenly, the most low-maintenance vacation concept transforms into a wild scramble for your own survival out in the unforgiving bush.

Camping in seasonal peaks also comes with its own share of unique challenges, from combating severe stormy weather to staying well-hydrated during blisteringly hot summer days.

So how do you ensure your next family camping trip goes off without a hitch? Read on to unearth all you'll need to consider when planning your next summertime camping adventure.

Travel light wherever possible

If you're planning to camp and hike, you'll naturally want to travel as lightly as possible. Pop up tents are infinitely preferable to pole tents for those looking to camp and hike this summer, as you'll be saving a large amount of time when it comes to setting up your campsite. The time being saved is also likely to be early morning and evening hours. As the summer sun is less intense at these hours during the day, you're better off spending that time on the trail rather than packing and unpacking your tent.

Be sure to check weather forecasts before you plan out your trip too. If you are expecting storms on any night of your hiking trip, it may be wise to select an inland campsite with plenty of tree coverage for those nights specifically, just to keep you sheltered from harsh winds. You can also strategically place your hiking packs and use your own bodyweight to keep your pop-up tent secure during volatile weather conditions.

Map your itinerary well ahead

As well as the importance of checking weather conditions and booking inland campsites if you feel the weather could take a turn for the worst, it's absolutely essential that you plan your camping trip itinerary well in advance.

This is especially crucial if you're travelling in summer, as you're likely to be sharing your trails and camping sites with many other campers taking full advantage of their summer vacation period.

Be sure to do some research to ascertain the seasonal travel peaks of the region you're planning to visit to make sure you'll be able to book campsites within a reasonable timeframe. As well, you'll want to consider whether or not you're happy to share your campsite with other parties. If you'd like to camp alone or just with your immediate travel party, it may be worth finding another destination for your summer camping experience.

Invest in good quality hiking equipment

There's nothing worse than walking uncomfortably on a long hike. Whilst there can be a myriad of reasons as to why you may be uncomfortable, more often than not it boils down to one accessory: your hiking boots.

You should pack a pair of dedicated hiking boots when preparing to embark on any camping trip. The sturdy, protective soles, and superior ankle protection of these boots are essential features to have when trekking through bushlands, forested areas, and of course, uneven mountainous terrain. The thick tread of a good pair of hiking boots will also help you traverse slippery terrain like trails that pass through creeks or around waterfalls.

Alongside your hiking boots, you may also opt to bring a walking or hiking pole if you feel you may need extra stability on specific types of terrain. Having a third point of contact with the ground can greatly reduce your risk of injury on uneven terrain. Walking poles have also been known to hold some physical health benefits, including their role in helping you maintain good posture as you trek.

Pack for all weather conditions

Given that we are currently experiencing a rather temperamental La Nina summer here in Australia, it's well worth packing some wet weather gear along with your shorter summer camping and hiking clothes. Consider packing a nylon or canvas anorak, water-resistant long sleeve tees and tops, and some nylon running shorts to wear after swimming.

Your boots and shoes should ideally be waterproof themselves or, at the very least, be fitted with rain covers to reduce your risks of ending up in wet socks. If you're hiking in an area with minimal tree coverage, it may be wise to bring a full raincoat or rain poncho to keep your clothing nice and dry.

A good pair of lightweight water-resistant hiking pants is ideal in any season too. They will keep you well-protected against sunburn and insect bites without feeling too heavy on your skin. You don't want to feel overly wrapped up in hot or humid weather conditions, just as you don't want to be left dealing with soggy clothing on a wet day.

Stay in the moment

Finally, the primary appeal behind any camping trip is that it's an opportunity to escape from your every day, live a hyper-minimalist lifestyle, and enjoy the peace and zen that comes with just existing in the world. Let yourself stay in the moment throughout your trip, and take comfort in the stillness and silence of the world around you.

You can drastically improve your camping experience by either minimising the use of electronic devices or even removing them from your trip entirely. You can use UHF radios to stay in touch with your fellow travellers if you're embarking on long-distance hikes, and handheld GPS devices for easy orienteering without the need for a 4G cell connection.

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A good camping trip is one that's well stocked and well structured. Be sure to follow all the tips outlined above when planning your and your family's next camping experience over this coming summer holiday break.

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