Christmas camping is pretty much an Australian right of passage.
Let’s face it, everyone wants to be off travelling and having great camping adventures over Christmas. It’s when many businesses close for the year, the kids are on school holidays and most people are able to take advantage of their annual leave.
But, with every man and his dog out there doing the same thing, how can you make the most of it without Christmas camping becoming too stressful?
To be honest, Christmas is one of the worst times of the year to be on the road. Everywhere is crazy busy, prices are at a premium and it can all quickly become rather overwhelming. But, with a bit of planning and a touch of foresight, camping over Christmas can be one of the most memorable times of the year.
I reckon Christmas should be for putting your feet up with the family. After all, it is just one date on the whole calendar. It’s not worth maxing out the credit cards and worrying ourselves stupid for one single day of the year.
Here are some tips for getting the most out of camping at Christmas and if you need help with packing, here are over 120 road trip items to browse.
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Tips For Christmas Camping
Get in Early
Christmas is the one time of the year that’s notorious for camping spots filling up quickly and booking out early.
If you’re planning on heading to a camping spot for Christmas that’s first-in first-served, make sure you get in as early as you can! It might be worth leaving that one day earlier just to ensure you’ve snagged a good spot for the duration of your trip.
Make sure that you choose a camping spot that’s big enough to house your entire Christmas party. Check with others to see which things are the most important to everyone in a location. Do people want to be close to the amenities or is a waterside spot preferable?
Pre-book as Soon as You Can
On the other hand, if you know that you’ll be needing Christmas camping accommodation in a caravan park, get organised early and pre-book your site to avoid completely missing out.
Pre-booking as early as you can is especially important if you plan on camping at Christmas with a group of people. The only way to guarantee that you’ll all be alongside each other is to get that booking finalised earlier on in the year.
Head Away from Popular Areas
If you don’t want to fight the busy holiday crowds or pay the peak season premiums, head in the opposite direction of the city and coastal regions.
There are literally thousands of amazing free and cheap camps in the quieter regions with plenty of space for yourself. The small towns would very much welcome the tourists for the silly season, as it all helps to boost their local economy.
Use the WikiCamps app to find great camps of all shapes, sizes and prices, no matter where you want to visit around Australia.
Add Christmas Lights
The easiest way to Christmasify your campsite is to string up some fairy lights.
You could go for the solar light option if you’re camping off-grid. But, if you’re hooked up to power, you won’t have to worry about chewing into your battery storage, so go for gold!
Forage for Decorations
We all know how limited space is when you’re on the road, which means carrying around decorations is not always an option. There are plenty of other ways to get into the festive spirit without filling the car with tinsel and plastic trees!
I reckon the best Christmas trees are the ones made from the natural environment. Once you get to camp and set up, go for a walk and find a nice branch for your ‘tree.’ See what other bits and pieces you can forage to decorate it.
One year I made my own Bon Bons out of empty toilet rolls and newspaper, which also doubled as the decorations for the tree. We just popped some lollies inside for the cracking. They were a hit with the kids who also had fun making them as a Christmas craft activity leading up to the day.
The best thing about using natural items to decorate is that you can put them back into the bush before packing up camp to head home – no carting around extra crap in the back of the car!
Connect With Other Christmas Campers
If you find yourself camping at Christmas and don’t have anyone else to spend the day with, reach out to others and have an ‘Orphans Christmas.’ Chances are, there are other travellers staying near you that are in the same situation.
Chat to your fellow campers or put a call out in a like-minded Facebook group. Organise a time and location and ask everyone to BYO drinks, food and chairs to keep it simple and stress-free.
Cheers to making new friends, while creating a unique Christmas experience to remember for years to come!
Explore Local Christmas Events
Check out what events are on in the community local to where you’re camping at Christmas. Most Councils have kids activities, Carols By Candlelight, Christmas markets and more at that time of year. Browse the local newspaper and tune into the local radio station to find out what’s happening.
Don’t forget to get out at night during December and gaze at the local homes (if you’re near a town) that have been jazzed up with twinkling Christmas fairy lights.
Give Gifts that People Can Use on the Camping Trip
The best gifts I remember receiving as a kid at Christmas time were the things that I could rip open and use straight away! That’s one of things that made Christmas so fun and special.
When it comes to gift-giving while camping over Christmas, consider gifts that people will be able to use on the trip.
Useful Christmas camping gift ideas:
- New camp chair
- Sand & water toys
- Boogie board
- Stand Up Paddle Board (SUP)
- Camp oven
- BBQ accessories
- Fishing gear
- New novel to read
- Board games
For loads more caravanning & camping gift ideas, check out these articles:
Pre-Organise Your Resources
If you’re planning on going camping at Christmas in a location that only has a small, local town, you can’t assume that you will be able to get all of your supplies leading up to Christmas.
Research ahead of time and figure out if there are things you’ll need to acquire from a larger town before heading out to camp. Write a list of everything you need to organise prior to the hectic Christmas period and get organised early.
Resources to consider:
- Drinks & alcohol
Camping Food Checklist + Menu Planner
- 4 pages
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For a cruisy camping Christmas trip, pre-prepare as much of the food and cooking at home as you can. The last thing you want to be doing on a relaxing trip is spend all day running around the campsite preparing food and cleaning up mess.
You might be able to pre-cook some of the meals so that it’s only a matter of heating through while you’re camping. For Christmas day meats, have them all pre-cooked and pre-cut in containers, so that on the day you can pull them out, ready to go.
Another thought is to skip the traditional Christmas meal altogether and go for a camping twist instead. A camp oven roast with banana boats for dessert makes for a truly authentic camping Christmas experience.
Pre-Wrap Gifts at Home
To simplify camping over Christmas, pre-wrap all of the gifts at home before you even pack the car to hit the road.
Let’s face it, wrapping Christmas gifts in secret is hard enough in a full-sized house, imagine how much harder it is in a tent or caravan! The added bonus is that you don’t have to worry about packing sticky tape, wrapping paper, gift bags and name tags.
An iconic Aussie Christmas is usually one shrouded in heat! Make sure that you’ve got some 12 volt fans for keeping cool and plan to incorporate water activities if possible.
Unless you’re plugged into power, you won’t be switching the air conditioner on.
Tips for keeping cool in summer while camping:
- Set up in a shady spot
- Keep the sun out with curtains & blinds
- Utilise 12v fans to keep the air flowing
- Create shade with awnings, annexes and shelters
- Cook outside
- Stay hydrated (don’t forget the pets)
- Regularly dunk yourself in the water
For more tips on keeping a caravan cool in summer, head to the article below.
Download a Bushfire App
Another commonality about camping at Christmas in Australia is that its smack bang in the middle of fire season.
If you’re heading into a rural area for your camping trip, make sure you’ve downloaded a Bushfire App and set your watch zone. That way, you will be alerted to any fires that pop up in your area, giving you the chance to get out early if necessary.
|QLD||QLD Fires →||QLD Fires →|
|NSW||Fires Near Me NSW →||Fires Near Me NSW →|
|VIC||VIC Fires →||VIC Fires →|
|TAS||TAS Fires →||TAS Fires →|
|SA||SA Fires →||SA Fires →|
|WA||WA Fires →||Fires Near Me Australia →|
|NT||Fires Near Me Australia →||Fires Near Me Australia →|
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Put Your Feet Up
Set up camp as early as you can so that you can be off the busy roads and enjoying the Christmas season. It’s time to crack open a cold drink, set out some nibblies and put your feet up – you’ve earned it!
Camping at Christmas time can be a breeze if you plan ahead and stay away from the chaos.