At some point in life, the fellas tend to stop hanging out in massive groups of man gangs and opt for the coupled-up, raising kids lifestyle. And even though it’s fun to head out into the bush with the guys, blokes are always asking how to get their partners to go camping.
Well, like most relationship advice, the best approach is to always try and see it from her perspective. That’s why I’ve put this article together and hopefully some of these ideas will get you sleeping under the stars with your main squeeze before too long.
1 Test the waters, but start small
Go away for the weekend to someplace close by. Make sure there are facilities, toilets and showers, possibly BBQs. Caravan parks are great because there are lots of activities for the kids – pools, jumping pillows, playgrounds, movie nights and heaps of other playmates. Plus, if you bring bikes, the kids can just cruise around the caravan park in gangs and leave you to relax. Don’t head out for a two-week trip on your virgin voyage; that could ruin things for the rest of your life!
2 Promise to help – AND ACTUALLY DO IT!
We tend to avoid camping as a holiday because it’s a lot of work. If blokes pitch in a bit more and make the whole operation less daunting, we’re more likely to go again. There is nothing worse than coming home exhausted from a trip, unpacking the 4X4 and doing 10 loads of washing. If you want us to camp, roll up your sleeves gents … and make sure we feel like you’re helping!
3 Find out what kind of camper she is
Full-blown wild woman, quasi-camper who needs a shower and loo, or the ‘tame caravan park only’ kind of gal. Sometimes you can swap between these options – but for me personally, I’d rather camp wild with nothing but a hole in the ground, than suffer through communal caravan park bathrooms and the sound of generators. Either way, you might have to make compromises; but hey, that’s what relationships are all about! If you have to buy a camper trailer so she can have a bed, do it!
4 Be pro-active with the kids
If you think taking the family along for a camping trip is the perfect opportunity for you to kick back with your mates and drink a carton of beer every day, you are wrong. Beer can be drunk, but large quantities should only be consumed after the kids go to bed. While the sun is up, Dad must be on duty fishing, swimming, bushwalking, playing cricket … whatever is necessary to keep all the campers happy. We’re not saying don’t have a beer all day. Just keep it functional.
5 If she’s really not interested, start bargaining
Camping is fun, but so are beachside resorts. Can you go camping for four nights and then stay in a five-star hotel for the last one or two? Buy her a spa voucher so she can be pampered and de-stressed after you get home. Offer to take her to a nice dinner, plan the night and hire a babysitter when you get back. Thoughtful gestures work like magic. Compromises can move mountains; so if you show the love, she’s more likely to help you pack the car and put up with mozzies and dirt for a few days.
6 Go with friends
Camping in groups is way more fun. Plus, you can share the cooking and cleaning with other people. And the more playmates you bring for the kids, the better off everyone is. Use peer pressure from mates to work in your favour! No-one wants to say ‘no’ to fun!
7 Tell her she looks beautiful every morning
We’re scared to go camping because we don’t want to look ugly. No make-up, hairy legs, body odour, no hair dryers … it’s hard to leave all that stuff behind. We just don’t feel sexy. But with a little pinch on the bottom and a wink from our main man, it makes letting go of the modern-day perception of beauty a lot easier. Besides, it can be liberating to embrace the freedom of living without the hassles of day-to-day life; it just takes time to realise this.
8 Dirt and sand everywhere
Most women do not want to deal with the dirt. The kids get dirty, the beds get dirty, clothes are dirty and there is sand all over the tent/camper trailer/caravan. Help her clean up. Help her keep the campsite reasonably tidy and then she won’t have anything to nag you about.
9 Managing meal times
Camping makes eating more complicated than it is at home. If you can have a fire, use it to cook everything. If you can’t, make sure you help with the cooking and washing up. Put the kids in charge of clean-up duties; and always, always, always take charge of the meat. If you leave us alone all day to go fishing and deal with feeding time ourselves, we will want to kill you – and we might even try. Unless you bring back a really nice catch, but even then …
10 Be grateful
At the end of the trip, say thank you. Even if it rains the entire time, the kids are covered in mozzie bites and stung by stingers, there are snakes in the tent, the fridge breaks and spoils all the food, the missus is looking suicidal and gives you the silent treatment … laugh and shrug your shoulders and say thanks for coming along. We’ll get over it eventually, if you really mean it.
Words by Christina Wiles Rogers