Gramping guide

Camping with the whole family, including the grandparents, can be a rich and joyful experience, but there are potential pitfalls. Little idiosyncrasies that you can put up with for the duration of Christmas Day are not so tolerable when you are travelling together for weeks on end. But before you panic and call off the whole thing, check out our top tips to ensure that you make the most of your first gramping adventure (and maintain happy families)...

Top 10 gramping tips

Around The Campfire

[Mike and Amanda Burton]

1. Talk

Talk before your gramping trip. Then talk some more. Be brutally honest. Get everything out into the open and clarify where you each stand: expectations, issues of control, decision making, small irritations and boundaries. The more honest and upfront you all are here, the less likely it is that there will be meltdowns and tantrums during the trip.....and not just among the children.  

2. Respect

Respect is essential with regard to personal space, which is precious when you are together 24/7. Set some realistic boundaries, like not barging unannounced into other people’s tent /camper /caravan. Mum might be resigned to having a little audience while she’s on the toilet but granddad might be used to a little more privacy. Travelling in separate vehicles gives everyone a break; just make sure the CB radio button isn’t locked on if you feel the need to vent to your spouse.

Girl Fishing On The Beach

[Mike and Amanda Burton]

3. Compromise

Everyone being ready for the same thing at the same time is fraught with more diplomatic tension than there is between India and Pakistan over Kashmir. What time to arrive or to pack up and leave, how long to spend at an attraction, what to eat and when to eat it, bedtimes, etc. Talk soon, talk often and everyone needs to be prepared to compromise. It’s better to make sure everyone is on the same page before the trip if possible.

4. Activities

Include activities chosen by each family member in your trip and you may find yourself really enjoying something you would never have chosen to do yourself. Also in the activities stakes, children can be like little Energiser Bunnies - they just keep going and going and going. With two sets of adults on hand, you can spread the load around so everyone enjoys their time playing but also gets a break. There is also opportunity for one set of adults to babysit occasionally so the other couple can have some time together.

Horse Riding

[Mike and Amanda Burton]

5. Budget

Consider money issues. How much are you planning to spend? Who is going to pay for what? How will you split bills? There’s a reason money is the root of many marital disagreements, and now you’ve gone and added a couple more people to the equation. It might be an uncomfortable topic, but best to be very clear on expectations in this department.

6. Workload

Think about division of labour before you leave. Everyone wants a holiday, but there are still jobs to be done. Who is going to do the cooking? Will you eat every meal together? Who’s doing the washing up? Making the cups of tea? This will work differently for each family. The main thing is to set up a clear system that works for you all so no one feels like they are an unpaid servant.

Family On The Beach

[Mike and Amanda Burton]

7. Plan

The planning stage is where the bonding begins. Planning the gramping trip is half the fun. Share the excitement of choosing the destination. Research places you might visit along the way and activities you’ll do once you arrive. Remember, you don’t have to do everything together every minute of the day. Sometimes separating into smaller groups allows more people to do what they want in a limited time. Just be clear on where and when you are regrouping.

Read our top 10 family camping tips

8. Location

If you are the experienced camping generation, gramping is a great way to share your passion with those you love without them having to fully kit themselves out. If your grandparents are a bit older, or your children a bit younger, you need to consider the match between the physical demands of the place you want to visit and their capabilities. There’s little point dragging grandma all the way to the Kimberley if she has a bung knee and can’t walk into any of the gorges. Or securing a riverfront campsite when you have two toddlers in tow and everyone spends the whole trip watching that they don’t run into the water and drown. There’s a difference between compromise and unrealistic expectations. A good gramping location accommodates everyone’s basic needs.

Book family-friendly accommodation.

Family Waterfall

[Mike and Amanda Burton]

9. Health

Be aware of any special dietary or medical needs members of your gramping group may have. Consider carrying copies of each other’s important documents. If the grandparents are going to be looking after the children at any stage, it may be worth having a signed statement from the parents giving them permission to authorise medical care for the children should the need arise.

10. Record

Keep a diary whilst you are on holiday and take lots of photos (and video). When you return home, make up a slide show, a scrapbooking album, or even just organise a box of photos. These are activities that can be done together and they strengthen the bonding that has occurred.  Even just revisiting your journey over an evening meal together is a great way to relive the good times over and over, “This time last year we were....”.

Want to know more about gramping? Read about the benefits here.

Discover the winners of our 'Best holiday park for gramping' competition.