My kids and I have been ‘living’ in tents for over a month, and have never been happier. A year ago we sold everything, spent nine months travelling from Byron Bay to South Australia, Colombia and Japan, before returning ‘home’ to Lennox Head for the kids to catch up with friends and catch up on school. I wasn’t ready to return, nor settle, and with more global travel plans on the horizon we settled on a compromise, we would live in tents.
My ‘gypsy palace’ is a $400 two-compartment dome tent from the local camp store, where I sleep some 5cm off the ground, fronting a big tea tree lake opposite the beachfront. The kids are in a $40 two-person dome tent, snuggled atop two flat camping mats with one tub of lego to keep them entertained on chilly mornings.
At one with nature
My morning routine consists of waking naturally at 5am, practicing the Wim Hof Method of breathing, then swimming in the icy lake at dawn. When the sun allows we prepare a feast of fresh fruits outside the tents at our borrowed, well-loved pop-out camping table and chairs, and by 8am the kids are skateboarding in the nearby car park while I prepare their school lunches and later walk them up the street to school.
In the afternoons, we go about the kids’ sports commitments, usually retiring to camp around 5pm where we prepare a light meal in the communal camp kitchen, shower, and the kids are hopping in bed by 6pm.
I retire to my tent to read by candlelight then meditate before falling asleep around 8pm. My phone is switched off when I sleep, and the cycle continues with the birds waking me pre-dawn ready to do it all again.
During recent rainstorms – 11 days straight of relentless rain and wind – our tents suffered some flooding (due to poor setup), our bedding has been constantly damp, and we certainly missed our morning picnic breakfasts, having instead to retreat to camp kitchen. But the moment the sun popped out for the first time in almost a fortnight, the kids were running around barefoot on the grass yelling: “this is the best day ever.”
Camping puts us right amongst the elements where we are exposed to both the highs and lows of raw nature. Learning how to dance in the rain accentuates feelings of gratitude and love when the sun finally shines again.
When I’m asked how I am managing, camping full time with kids whilst maintaining a full-time digital work schedule and kids as a sole parent, I smile gracefully and answer sincerely: “I’ve never felt more grounded.” How could I not be? I am literally sleeping on the ground!
From a domestic point of view, I’ve never done less. We wash laundry once a week and the kids volunteer their involvement – they love popping the coins in the camp washing machine and measuring out the liquid, then placing the clothes into the machine. My eldest son learned quite quickly why I’m always nagging him to take his clothes off in the ‘right’ way after spending an extended period of time on his first camp laundry excursion reversing ‘inside-out’ t-shirts and board shorts.
Our meals are around 75% raw vegan, filling up on fresh fruits and vegetables, cooking only a few nights a week the likes of soups and other winter vegan warmers. Neither of us has been sick the entire period we’ve lived in tents, when most of the kids’ classmates have had rounds of colds and flus.
Being based outdoors correlates directly with increased daily exercise. From walking back and forth to the toilet block and camp kitchen, to the kids running around in the open space, to my daily routine of swimming in the lake, all of us are exercising daily, rain or shine. Now the sun is back I’ll be unrolling my Divine Goddess Yoga Mat by the lake again every day to practice outdoor yoga.
The health benefits of camping
Around camp we are almost always barefoot. The health benefits of ‘earthing’, i.e. walking barefoot in nature, are great and we covered this recently in a blog post (insert blog post link here).
Sleeping and rising with the sun promotes the body to engage in proper ‘rest and digest’ mode, helping to reduce inflammation, improve your cardiovascular system, and increase alertness during the day.
Sleeping in tents also removes us from environmental toxins or pollutants that are commonly found in domestic households from electrical appliances, WiFi vibrations, dust, wall paint, and potent cleaning products, among other substances.
Being surrounded by trees keeps the body filled with fresh oxygen, which corresponds directly to mood enhancement. You know that feeling of joy when you suck in a fresh breath of air when you first arrive to a natural campground? Scientifically, that feeling is the body releasing serotonin from all that extra oxygen inhalation. When your body is filled with more oxygen it can function with less strain, and research shows that more time outdoors can improve your blood pressure, improve digestion, and boost your immune system.
Being exposed to excess sunshine gives the body a boost in vitamin D, allowing your body to better absorb calcium and phosphorous.
If you are planning an upcoming getaway, re-think renting a house and get yourself a modest tent and basic camping essentials. Don’t overthink your equipment, the less you have the less you stress!