Dare we say it but packing is one of the keys to a great trip. Over the years we have refined a list that suits us and where we like to go. Download the Red Dirt Camping Packing List.

We like to cook and vacuum seal a number of meals before we head off. We usually do this a week before leaving and vacuum seal it in the correct quantity for our family. We then freeze it down in our car fridge as it tends to pack better this way. This way we only need to reheat it and cook some rice, cous cous, noodles or potatoes to add to the meal. Noel usually cooks up double or triple quantities of some family favourite meals so instead of three pre-fab meals we have six or nine ready to go with not much more effort. Interspersed with other meals like a camp oven roast  or meals prepared in the thermal cooker it means that we don't get bored.

Where possible we eat in the local pub or roadhouse to ensure that we are supporting the communities that we travel through. This eases the burden on our carrying capacity. We usually have a number of non-fridge meals on our menu and these are particularly helpful should we get delayed on the road.

Well in advance of setting off we do up a suggested plan of where we are going, distances between fuel and probable camping points with a suggested menu. Each family then takes the plan and makes menu changes according to their likes and dislikes. If travelling with others we tend to plan on a shorter travelling day every now and then for a camp oven meal. Although this sounds like a rigid plan it is quite flexible and we rarely stick to it completely. However, it allows us to ensure that we have enough supplies to cover the intended trip with a little extra for emergencies.

We carry a sat phone with us as well as maps and navigational gear. If you do not have the need for a sat phone for much of the year, consider hiring one from Red Dirt Camping (please call us 02 6885 5955 or email us sales@reddirtcamping.com.au for more information). Maps and navigational gear can be purchased online or in store, again please contact us for more information.

Travelling with kids is a wonderful experience but it can be extremely stressful under certain circumstances. If children are bored, car travel for all becomes a nightmare. A small pencil case of pencils, sharpener, zoom crayons and a colouring book or puzzle book can make all the difference. Likewise, iPods, iPads and other hand held devices can save the day. For your own sanity remember the chargers and head phones! A lot of these devices have a camera function. If not, consider getting each child their own camera - it need not be expensive as long as it has the capacity to take thousands of photos because they will take photos of anything. We have photos of kid's nostrils and even a photo of Uluru taken whilst crossing the Simpson Desert. This remained a mystery until we discovered one child had managed to take a perfect photo of part of the front cover of an activity book! In amongst all their bizarre photos you will find some gems - things that you missed or just from a child's perspective or angle.

Consider joining and becoming active in your local 4WD Club. This is a great way to meet fellow travellers and like minded people. A 4WD club is what you make of it - you can be as active or inactive as you want. As a family we pick and choose the trips and places that interest us and that can fit into our schedule.

 As a family and with friends we have travelled to Central Australia often over the last couple of years. We usually manage to add a Simpson crossing most years to our travels. The kids ask for a beach holiday so we give them sand! The first year we crossed the Simpson was after some big rain and there were long detours to Big Red and to cross Eyre Creek. The wildflowers and wildlife were amazing after all the rain. The Simpson has been different each time we have crossed and we enjoy the changing scenery throughout the crossing.

We usually do a number of weekends and long weekends away camping throughout the year to places closer to home. It is a good chance to recharge the batteries and reconnect with the family and our friends mid way through the school term.