Previously, Hunny asked Sarah this: “I am a big time camper, and we have some big trips planned this summer. I’m a little apprehensive about being hours away from a hospital if something goes wrong, like a snake bite or a bad fall. My daughter will be 1 at the time of these trips — and this is tent camping, not RV-ing. What tips do you have for us?”
As we creep towards the official start of summer, I’m sure you’re not alone in planning those outdoors trips with your wee one. Forget going to gigs or lazy Sunday brunches; the true test of how much you’re still your old self can relatively often boil down to: can we sling on the backpack and still get out there with baby in tow?
The good news is: absolutely. You don’t say here whether you’re hiking a trail over several days and just setting up camp where you find yourselves, or whether you’ll be staying put for a few days. If your big trips are over several days, I’d suggest the following. Firstly: why not do a ‘trial run’ of a small overnight camp nearby, just to get the drill down? You’ll both feel a lot more confident out in the wilds if you know that you’ve already figured out the basics such as: who puts up the tent and who entertains the wee one? What do you do with those dirty diapers, especially if you’re doing a ‘pack it in, pack it out’ trip? (my advice here: a VERY secure ‘wet pack’, which lives in a different compartment from any perishables you’re bringing along). Secondly: go prepared to pack a little more ‘heavily’ than you maybe did in the past. A full first-aid kit is a must, as are a decent number of clothing changes for your daughter, extra layers for her at bed, and a few easy toys – cloth books, a favorite teddy, that kind of thing. Of course, the main attraction for her will be the Great Outdoors, but having a few familiar playthings around will also be useful.
Bear in mind, too, that for chunks of your trip, one of you will likely be carrying your daughter (a good, sturdy, toddler backpack is great for this), and the other, your camping supplies. This is worth bearing in mind too, in terms of sheer quantity of items you can bring and how far you might want to go the first few times you’re out.
With specific regard to the concerns about snake bites/bad falls: If possible, it would be worth going someplace where either your cells work, or you have GPS (so if you needed to put out an alarm call, you could be as swift and accurate about it as possible). Decide amongst yourselves before you head out how you’d handle an emergency. Would one of you go for help whilst the other stayed with your daughter? What if one of you was hurt? – what are the absolute basics you’d each need to keep with you until you gained support? I know these aren’t the cheeriest of conversations to be happy, but I think it’d possibly ease your apprehension to know that Plans A, B and C were all in place should they be needed.
In terms of minimizing the risks, and assuming that your daughter’s mobile at this stage, I would advise against camping anywhere too obviously risky. Those clifftop sunsets and creekside campfires will take on a whole new aspect if you have to spend your entire time guarding against imminent danger!
At a year old, your daughter may still take the occasional bottle, in which case it would be wise to either take some sterilizing tablets (you may well already do this) or a bottle with disposable innards (Playtex do a popular version of this). Again, at a year old, she’s probably eating most solids, but I wouldn’t imagine she’s quite developed the palate for vac-packed meals, so a few easy staples would be good.
In all our travels with our two boys, my husband and I have discovered that the kids are incredibly unphased by the big changes (sleeping in a tent! Hanging out under the stars!) as long as their day-to-day routine stays relatively similar. Who cares which country we’re in, or what our bed is, as long as Daddy’s still reading the bedtime story.
If you have a question for Sarah, go ahead and email her. She’ll be selecting a few questions to answer here in coming months.