The kid factor – camp set-up and pack down 101

It pretty much took us the full three months of being on the road before we perfected setting up and packing down our camp.

But first to rewind slightly.

Back in October we bought Harry Hawk, a Jayco pop-top camper trailer. It’s almost a caravan, but with lot’s of camper trailer benefits. But the biggest reason we upgraded from our canvas tent style camper trailer was to help reduce the set-up and pack-down time. The Husband, bless his cotton socks, is normally the poor sod doing all the hard work, so I figured if it helps his sanity, we can get a new camper for our big trip.

So, roll on April and we set off on our adventure of the lifetime.

Set-up isn’t all that long really. If it’s just a basic overnighter we are normally kicking back with a beer in 45 minutes. For longer stays when we have the bed-end flys up and a privacy awning on both sides of the van it might take an hour.

Beach front camp at Ningaloo Station

Pack up on the other hand has taken us up to three hours from wake up to hitch up. We mostly surmised it was because of the kids. Keeping an eye on Red was the most challenging, making sure he wasn’t climbing on something only to topple off, or eating roo poo (yes, this happened!), or rocks, or running around with a stick (we have visions of him falling over and losing an eye – it’s a family superstition thing and warranted too), or worse, wandering out onto the road and being squashed by a six tonne van!

But by our last pack up, we were done and dusted in 90 minutes - check out the time lapse video below!

Here’s some of our tricks we learnt along the way:

Use technology

D-Man could sit for hours transfixed with the bloody Ipad – I like to call it the Idiot-Pad – and while I hate this so much, it does mean we have one less child to worry about while he loses some brain cells in the car.

Car play

Red is not so easily entertained. But after some trial and error, he just loves riding shotgun in the car. So after many lessons learned about what to leave and what to remove, he happily explores the front of the car while we set up. Yes, we come back and the CB is set to random things, wipers and hazards are on, and worst of all, the heating cranked! We quickly learned that if we don’t want hand sanitiser and sunscreen all over the seats, we need to remove them. Ditto for wallets and phones – for most of the trip The Husband had no license – lost somewhere in the car, after Red thought that it was no longer required in the wallet.

Fast breakfast

To cut down morning routine time, we would have packed breakfast – such as breakfast bars, yogurt or a piece of fruit. It meant very little meal-prep time, no dishes, and it kept the kids entertained for 15 minutes while The Husband and I would continue to pack up. We would eat our breakfast on-the-go in the car.

Get the caffeine fix

If we were in a location that had real coffee nearby, I would duck out with the kids while The Husband packed up. Sadly for our caffeine addiction, this rarely happened! I guess that’s what happens when you stay in some remote locations!

Pre-pack up prep

We did lots of packing up the night before so all we needed to do in the morning was crack out the breakfast bars, make a coffee, get dressed and pack down the camper. This proved the most efficient pack-down method – the quickest we clocked a pack down with this method was 40 minutes!

Even though we had perfected setting up and packing down Harry, The Husband is already looking to replace or newest family member. He reckons an off-road caravan is the way to go. We might need to win the lotto before that happens – this road-trip business is a costly exercise!

Me on the other hand – I’m looking forward to when the boys are old enough to do everything and I’ll pop to the café for a coffee while they do all the hard work!

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