- The following precaution I can’t stress enough: Before you hit the road, pitch your tent. Check that you have all the poles and pegs. There is nothing worse than arriving at your destination and there is a pole missing. You might have to buy one at great cost from a retailer at the closest town (that is, if there is one close by). Check the tent for damage or torn parts. It might have been hanging in the garage for a while and has become a home for the rats. If it is a new tent, pitch it before going on holiday. You don’t want to start your holiday with family members shouting at each other in frustration, because no-one knows how to pitch the tent.
- At the resort, before leaving your tent, make sure all the openings and entrances are zipped. No-one wants to sleep in a wet tent when you arrive late at night.
- If you sleep on a blow-up mattress, make sure it inflates properly and it is not punctured.
- If you can invest in a stretcher, that is even better. This can prevent hairy creepy-crawlies getting onto you at night, and you will also not be so close to the ground and the cold.
- Don’t put your luggage and bags in the corners of the tent – that is where it gets wet first.
- Baby powder in the tent helps to keep away the ants.
- An electric fan is very important. If you don’t have shade at your stand and you want to rest a bit in the afternoon, a fan helps against the heat.
- Pack a beanie to stay warm at night – it will help to preserve your body heat.
- A brush and dustpan are very useful when you want to clean the tent or the entrance – also when packing up the tent.
- Take along some Ziploc bags to keep your electric plugs dry. You don’t want an electric short when it starts to rain.
- When you pack up, make sure the poles and pegs are dry, otherwise you might have a rust problem on your next holiday.
- Check that your stand is clear of thorns, rocks, or anything that can damage your ground sheet. Watch out for ant nests near your tent.
- Make sure your stand has shade – otherwise the African sun is going to kill you!
- Decide how close to the ablution facilities you want to be. If grandma is with you, she might want to go there at night, but just remember it is going to be noisy from early in the morning.
- Check that the power points at your stand are working.
- Watch out for water run-offs. If the rain starts pouring, you don’t want a river through your stand.
- Make sure there are no overhanging branches that can damage your tent when there is a strong wind.
- Keep the phone number of the resort manager at hand. You are welcome to contact him if anyone makes too much noise or misbehaves.
Food, glorious food:
As we all know, there will be a lot of eating. I will never forget, I was in standard 9 when I went with a friend on a seaside holiday. His dad decided to give his mom a break from preparing food. So he literally braaied morning, noon and night. I could not face a braai chop anymore. Luckily there is a lot of the nitty gritty preparations you can do beforehand:
- You can always prepare hearty homemade soup, put it in the freezer and just reheat it on the fire for a quick meal.
- Rusks and more rusks … For the kids while they are waiting for the braai, in the mornings when everyone gets out of bed – indeed a snack that can be enjoyed anytime.
- Chop the ingredients for your meals at home and put them in various containers. You can even precook some of them at home.
- Precook rice or noodles, let it cool down, put in a plastic container and warm it up when needed.
Not to be left behind:
- Insect repellant. Listen, to be restless all night because you are eaten by the mozzies, is no joke. Spray yourself, or even better, get some of those mosquito mats.
- First-aid kit. Although all the resorts are well equipped, it is not a bad idea to have something handy when Jannie steps on a broken bottle ten o’clock at night on his way back from the heated swimming pool.
- Suntan lotion and anti-burn spray. It always happens – the first day you forget to apply the suntan lotion properly, and then the following days you suffer in the sun. Or even worse, you have to swim with a T-shirt.
- Board games and cards. For those rainy days – and to check if grandma has another, evil side.
- Torches, head lamps and batteries. Because Eskom spares no-one.
- Candles. Especially citronella candles that can also keep the mozzies away.
- Fire and braai accessories. Remember to pack the braai grid!
Camping holidays can be some of the best holidays with the fondest memories (especially for the little ones). However, it boils down to two important matters: planning and teamwork.
You can’t do anything about unpleasant weather – but you can somehow plan your activities for when it does happen. And the last thing you want is for the kids fighting because one of them supposedly works harder than the other.
And for the rest … the ATKV resorts will provide the good times!