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How to have a cheap, fun family holiday

Let’s face it, when there’s a mortgage to pay on top of all the other expenses life throws at you, there’s not always a lot of money leftover for fun stuff – like holidays. Throw kids into the mix and things get even more complicated.

But what if I told you there’s a cheap, easy and fun holiday you can have that can be as close to home or as far away as you like? Yes, it’s time to rediscover the joy of camping!

Now before you say “Ugh! I hate the bush and I need a shower and toilet no matter what” hear me out. You see that sentence applies to me in spadefuls. However, if like 85% of the Australian population you live within cooee (or 50km) of the coast, then a beachside holiday is more than feasible.

Caravan and camping parks abound along our coastline, even quite close to the capital cities and while the prices for a site ramp up a bit in the school holidays, it’s still an awful lot cheaper than paying for a motel or even one of the on-site cabins. You can get a powered site in a camping park near Sydney for about $85 a night in the off season. You don’t even have to spend the small fortune it costs to buy a caravan. Amenities blocks are usually kept quite clean. Just remember to take thongs to wear to and from (and in) the shower. (A hygiene precaution drummed into me during childhood camping trips.)

 

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Here’s what you’ll need

The following items are available at K-mart and were some of the best value I could find

  • 1 x 8-person tent $139
  • 2 x tarpaulins $25 each
  • 4 x double guy ropes $8 each
  • 6 x tent poles $10 each
  • 1 x 10-pack of tent pegs $4
  • Folding camp chairs $10 each
  • Sleeping bags $15 each
  • Single air mattresses $12 each
  • 27 litre cooler $30
  • 1 x 240 volt air pump $19
  • 1 x battery powered lantern $20
  • 1 x torch $10
  • 1 x power board $8
  • 1 x 15m extension lead $11
  • Primus stove $44 (from Bunnings)

 

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Here’s what to do

  1. Since most of us are 90 minutes from the coast at the most, book in at a camping area at the closest beachside suburb. Make sure you get a powered site.
  2. Just go for one night on a weekend to try it out.
  3. Do NOT go in the school holidays.
  4. If you’re only going for one night as a trial run, don’t worry about dinner. Just take what you’ll need for two days of picnic lunches and brekky, then buy dinner at the local takeaway.
  5. Check-in is usually about 2pm and check-out at 10am (The great thing about having a tent in the boot as opposed to a caravan behind, is you can leave home early, arrive in the morning and park somewhere nearby. Ask when you book if you can leave your car in a guest parking spot until check-in time.
  6. Grab your cossies, towels, fishing rods, then head for the water as you would on any other trip to the beach.
  7. Enjoy your fab picnic lunch then head back to check-in at 2pm.
  8. Now comes the fun part. Pitching the tent. You can buy self-erecting tents, but why not get the kids involved and have a lot of laughs that you’ll remember for years to come as you all try to pitch your shelter for the first time!
  9. Remember those tarps you bought? You’re going to use these (along with the poles, ropes and pegs) to make a nice shady shelter where you can set up your camp chairs to take in the view as well as set up your camp stove and cooler.
  10. Crawl into your tent and have a chat and giggle before falling asleep. Remember to keep the torch handy in case someone needs to head to the amenities block during the night!

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Phyllis Stylianou

Phyllis Stylianou is a journalist with 35 years’ experience as a reporter, sub-editor and editor. Writing is the great love of her life (after her family) – as is renovating old homes and building new ones (which she’s embarking on again!) So writing about everything to do with building, renovating and gardening is her passion.

The opinions expressed in this article are the opinions of the author(s) and not necessarily those of Homeloans Ltd.