How to Start Camping as a Family

March 14, 2017


Overnight camping in the desert or at the beach is a regularly activity we do as a family. It gives that wonderful chance to smell fresh desert air or the salty sea breeze, as well as that feeling of waking up to a healthy early morning sunshine dose.

The UAE is about deserts and beaches, and as a family with two kids, one way we make the most of this these physical features is by driving to great camping spots, pitching our tents and sleeping under the moon light.

To date, we experienced camping in Bassa Beach in Musandam, at Jebel Ali Beach, in Um Al Qwain Beach, at Dibba Beach in Fujairah. We frequently camp at Lahbab desert with friends. And the most epic desert camping we probably did was at the world's tallest dunes at Moreeb Dunes in Liwa, Abu Dhabi.

How to start camping

Camping as a family with little kids may sound scary and uncomfortable for some families with uncertainties like fear of the tent being attacked by animals, or having kids get sick in the middle of the night, no access to food and to facilities, and you can name more.

We started camping alone, and the first advice we can give is -- just start camping. More often, you will learn in the process and realize that while it may be tedious, it is not really scary.

 Here are some things that can serve as a guide to help you with in gaining the confidence of starting family camping trips here in the UAE:

1. Camp with friends

This gets you to overcome the fear of being alone in a far camp site. Also, you can agree with friends to share in bringing camping gears that are non-personal that can be shared like stove, water heater, barbecue stands. If you camp with friends who had previous experience in camping, they could share their experiences that you could learn from.

2. Search for camping spots that campers frequent

If you would camp by yourselves, start with familiar camping sites where you would have other campers for company. For example, start at the beach, than in the mountains. 

Our first camping experience was in Musandam, Oman when our son was five years old. It was a holiday and we camped along Bassa Beach with about 40 cars lined up, mostly with families with happy kids running and playing around.

Our tent during our first outdoor camping at Bassa Beach, Musandam, Feb 2011

3. Start camping with locations nearer to the city

To build your confidence while getting a feel of what it's like to sleep under the moonlight, a location that is around one hour drive from home is a good one to start with.

4. Where your car can accommodate you, consider sleeping there too.

During winter, the car encloses you in warmth than when you are at the tent.
Summer nights would be nicely spent inside the tent. But during the hotter nights, a less ventilated tent can be uncomfortable so tents with nets where air can circulate through is one's bet. But during humid nights, the car is our best bet yet with the air-conditioner on.

5. Dont be overwhelmed with things to bring. 

Preparing the essentials for overnight camping can be overwhelming as when one starts buying the tents and all. To lessen this, start with sleeping in your car first when the space allows. This way you can assess what type of tent you eventually will need to buy (we had two tents, we had to buy a second one that is a bigger to accommodate all four of us, and is high enough to let us stand inside).

Also, when you camp with friends who already have their essentials, you may observe what you really need to buy. Our camping friends have their portable cooking stove to barbeque grills. But to keep us mobile and with lack of space in the car, we decided not to buy any of these, and instead bring cooked food with us.

The staples in our camping list include medicine kit (paracetamol, kids' nasal spray), toiletries, cooked food, folding chairs, sleeping gears, extra clothes.


6. Get a feel of the place

Camping in Liwa's Moreeb Dunes where the highest dune in the world is, was one of our dream camping trip. It was overwhelming just thinking about it at first, however we finally did it on our second visit when we already knew what to expect, and this time drove and camped there accompanied by family friends. We arrived late at night surrounded by darkness, but knowing the place and having another car with us somehow made us more confident.
We woke up to thick fog at 8am on top on Moreeb Dunes in Liwa. We arrived before midnight earlier that we were yet waiting to see what was actually around us.


BASIC CAMPING GEARS

The camping gears requirements may differ by family. Deciding which gears to bring may also depend on the flexibility of the campers. The more things you bring, the more convenience you would have in the camp in terms of the availability of your things, however it means using more space in the car, and requires more time to prepare.

For our family, the basics we bring include a camping tent, folding chairs, folding table, folding mattress, pillows, blankets, flashlights, food that doesn't easily get spoiled, basic medicine kit, toiletries, extra clothes. Our friends also always bring with them their barbecue grills, camping stove, kettle.

A good way to search for these items to start with is checking and comparing options online on Souq.com:


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