It’s virtually free (once you've got the kit), kid-friendly and the UAE is packed with great spots to pitch a tent – however, camping can be pretty daunting for first timers. We asked the experts at Adventure HQ to give us some tips for novices
When camping for the first time, the essentials include a good tent that will protect you from the elements, warm sleeping bags and sleeping mats (it does get cold in the desert), good food (which means adequate cooking stoves, eating utensils and cooler boxes for storage), and lighting for activities after dark. Chairs and tables are a close second, it’s always good to have the kids up and out of the dirt when eating.
Not just for older kids
Camping is for everybody! There are no age restrictions, but the younger your kids are, the more thought needs to go into route selection, camping location and just how much you need to bring. Being over-prepared is not a bad thing when travelling with little ones.
There is a vast and varied array of camping items on the market, and much of your selection will depend on where you are going and for how long, as well as your definition of ‘roughing it’. Parents travelling with kids might consider a solar power setup, such as the items available from Goal Zero, www.goalzero.com. These will be useful for charging any appliances you need to take, plus they will provide power to run essential lighting, too. Refrigeration is key for keeping food and beverages cold. Consider a mobile fridge that runs from your car for longer trips where ice may not be available at each rest stop, try www.waeco.com. And don’t forget to pack enough games and toys to keep kids occupied during down time and rest stops.
Always be prepared!
Take enough spare water and food for all parties in anticipation of any delays. Always leave detailed information of your plans and your return times with a friend or family member so they can push the button if you’re not back in due time. Plan extensively with maps, trip notes or guide books of where you are, and check border crossing information and updates to avoid any issues with passports or visas. There have been recent changes to who can cross particular borders between the UAE and Oman. Check ahead to avoid disappointment while trying to get across.
Camping is very family friendly, but there are some precautions to be aware of. Make sure kids’ tents are secure so you don’t get any sleep walking, and keep all cooking equipment well away from where you sleep. Beware of the sun, even during the cooler months, also, watch out for camel spiders and scorpions.
Safety in numbers
When you’re off-roading, always travel in a group so you have adequate support should there be an emergency. A minimum of three vehicles is recommended for remote areas.
Rules of the (off)road
While there are no set rules by any governing body, it is always good to follow a strong code of ethics when you go camping. The ‘Leave No Trace’ organization has the six following principles for kids:
Know before you go
Choose the right path
Trash your trash
Leave what you find
Be careful with fire
Be kind to other visitors
Put simply, ‘leave it cleaner than you found it’. This way others can enjoy the outdoors without having to deal with any trash you, or others, have left behind.