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Complete Guide to a Backyard Camping Staycation

I used to hate camping until one lockdown weekend, I have decided to leave the house and camp with my daughter in the backyard. We planned to stay for one night, but both loved it so much we ended up staying for two more. Here is how to plan for a backyard camping staycation.

It was the middle of winter (Australian winter) but that did not stop us from having the BEST time. We packed the car with all the essentials - tent, fire pit, sleeping bags, games and set off on an adenvture in our backyard. We double-bagged in two sleeping bags each and rugged up with thermals and tracksuits for warmth.

The only rule? No access to the house (our downstairs bathroom and garage fridge were the only places we could peruse).

Needless to say, we became hooked on the simple joys and the uncomplicated way of life that's camping.


The only rule? No access to the house and try to stay away from the malls and shopping centres. This is meant to be time spent away and off-grid (sort of).

1. Create excitement and plan together

Get everyone involved in planning and organising the trip. Create lists that the kids can tick off as you go.

2. Gather camping supplies

You'll need a tent, tarps, sleeping bags, outdoor rain-rated powercords, camp stove or a fire pit (and firewood, starters, matches). A portable induction stove - we have this one - is also great for boiling things up quickly. Assemble a small kitchen kit consisting of a pot or pan, knife, chopping board, cups. A table and chairs as well or you can use your outdoor setting if you have one. Torches or head torches as well!

Since staycations are about saving money, if you don't have the gear, ask family and friends if they have stuff you can borrow.

3. Plan activities and games

What will you be doing? What games will you bring - think less screen time, old school stuff like checkers, dominos, uno. Are there any nature walks around? Is there a park you could go to? Crafts you could do - perhaps journaling?

Camping with Kids is a great book filled to the brim with activities to do even when camping in the backyard. As is The Lonely Planet's Kids Survival Guide book.

4. Food and drinks

Try to pack food that's non-perishable and doesn't require refrigeration (canned food, dried food like noodles, crackers, dried fruit, muesli bars, etc). Marshmallows are a must if you're bringing a fire pit.

For cold food storage use a camping fridge or an insulated styromoam box with gel ice packs in it - frozen water bottles work well too to keep food cold.

5. Doing your business

Consider how and where you'll go to do your "business".

I mean you could see if you could borrow a portable camp toilet, but if that's too much of an ask and you don't have access to a bathroom that's not a part of the main house, then by all means feel free to make that one area an exception to the rule.

If using a camp toilet, don't forget to bring toilet paper!

6. Plan for wet weather

Just in case it rains, think of a few extra activities you can do on site. It might be colouring in, books to read.

Pack raincoats and gumboots - nature walks in light rain can actually be a nice adventure, especially if followed by cups of hot cocoa upon return to camp.

7. Pack and drive

Once you've got everything ready pack the car and drive to your destination. Packing the car and road-tripping is part of the adventure! Bring snacks for the drive and take 30 minutes getting there. It will feel that much more real! Seriously.

7. If you forget anything...

Try to Macgyver it. Be creative. Imagine you are actually camping off grid and try to make do with what you have.

We forgot to pack tent pegs - rookie mistake, but I happened to have a screwdriver set in the car so we used that instead to pitch our tent. And now we have a good story to tell.

#vacation #camping #summer #staycation #schoolholidays #budgettravel