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4 stupid camping mistakes that I won’t make again

© Amy Fraser
© Amy Fraser

About a month ago I went camping in the Royal National Park, just outside of Sydney. The campsite was absolutely beautiful and as usual campervan goers, we thought we’d get a little closer to nature this time and sleep in a tent. 

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How did we get on? Well, we loved our night but as the title suggests, we could have been more prepared. This one is for camping newbies, campers who need a little refresh or to be honest, anyone who wants a laugh. Here are a couple of silly camping mistakes that I hope you’ll learn from. I definitely did. 

1. Booking last minute

Campsite © Amy Fraser
Beachside camping © Amy Fraser

The first tip I can give you is to book in advance – as far in advance as you can. This campsite was actually our third choice but typically, we had left it too late and our top picks had all sold out for our chosen weekend. Thankfully, we got the very last spot in the Royal National Park for the night. When we arrived, it was obvious why this site was the last left. 

At the front of the campsite was what I like to call ‘first class’. These smug (and very sensible) campers had obviously booked months ago. They woke up to the ocean right on their doorstep. It looked like heaven.

A little further back, ‘premium economy’ had it good with ocean views and plenty of greenery. And then there was us, so far back we’re pretty much in the forest, which after all that rain, was resembling a small swamp. Luckily we love nature and although it wasn’t the most glamorous site, we liked the privacy among the trees. What did we not enjoy? The mosquitoes. 

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2. Forgetting mosquito repellent 

Speaking of mosquitoes, I highly recommend never forgetting to bring repellent with you. Especially when you’re practically sleeping in a forest. Luckily, we managed to find a bottle in the national park supermarket, but I don’t suggest leaving it down to fate.

3. Thinking a second-hand Kmart tent would do the trick 

The tents we should have bought! © Amy Fraser

I’m all for reusing and recycling, so when we were given a second-hand tent I didn’t see the point in purchasing a brand-new one. Surely this tent will suffice? We even tried to do the sensible thing and tested it in our garden a week before the trip. Despite taking us a while to figure out how to fit it back in its tiny bag, the tent seemed in pretty good shape, so off we went.

Being a pop-up tent, the set-up was easy. Everything was going smoothly until we decided to call it a night and the zip got well and truly caught in the tent’s outer lining (which was stupidly designed in the way of the zip). We struggled for a good half an hour in the dark before opting to cut away the material. At this point, I thought we were going to have to sleep in the car. Another 30 minutes later, we’re finally in with the zip done up. Too bad about all the holes in the outer layer…

4. Using our phones as a torch 

This sounded like a really good idea until my phone died. Rule number one: always bring a torch with you. Thankfully, I had managed to remember the decorations, so at least we had a full set of fairy lights for the tent. Maybe next time I’ll get my priorities right.

On that note, being coffee-lovers we did prioritise our morning brew and it was so worth it. If you haven’t seen the Bellman Espresso and Steamer CX then I recommend you check it out. 

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