Illness + Camping = Not Fun

camping sick

Have you ever been ill when camping?   

Really wishing you were  home in your own comfortable bed to wallow in your misery, instead of being in the great outdoors?

We have experienced this as a family.  

I don’t mean – life threatening illness or injury, but stomach upset, severe cold and flu symptoms.    The sort of illness that can make you feel miserable in the comfort of your own home.      Double that misery if you are camping and ill.

When I started camping, always in the back of my  head, was “what will happen if one of us gets ill and we are not close to a chemist/doctor?”     It was this little nagging doubt.  Small enough not to voice aloud, but large enough for me to feel concern and thoughtful of what I would need to do.   (apparently I was not 'thoughtful' enough....more on that later).

But, a few camping trips later and no one was ill.     I was lulled into a lovely feeling of complacency.  That doubt I mentioned earlier?  Still there but tucked away a little deeper in the brain.   That was all about to change......

It was a beautiful clear but very cold winter’s  evening and we were all tucked up in our tent.  The kids were fast asleep, and the camp ground was very peaceful.      And I lay there and I shivered.  Shivering uncontrollably in fact.   How cold was I?  Why couldn’t I get warm?   My teeth were actually chattering.   You would have thought I was in the Artic on the verge of hypothermia.  But no, my bedding was perfectly suited to the weather, and inside the tent it was sealed and warm.

I knew something was wrong and vainly hoped that it was just cold or flu – that I could handle.   I wouldn’t need to leave the warm tent, I could just lay there till morning.    

But I was wrong.  

It  was not just the start of a cold.  

 It was the early warning signs of a gastric upset.  No way was I going to be able to stay in that tent!  

There was some good news – we were in an established campground with good facilities.    The bad news was that in order to ensure we were not camped near others; we had camped some distance from these facilities.   It had seemed like such a good idea when we had pulled in to the campground.
Go Camping Australia  blog

So for the next few hours, I would have to open the tent (trying desperately to be quiet – zips sure do sound loud in the middle of the night), slip on shoes and run to the toilets in the freezing night air.   

Thankfully there was no rain, and the moon shone brightly as I ran past sleeping campers, blissfully unaware of my anxiety about the distance I had to travel to use the facilities.

Even as I ran, I still managed to think to myself :

(a) why are we parked so far away from these toilets?


(b) what shall I do if I come across a big spider in the toilets?     (that fear is always with me, in good and bad health)

Other thoughts that crossed my numb brain on that cold night  – could I drive our car down to the toilets and sleep in it, near the toilets?     

The second thought after that one was – where did I leave the keys for the damn car?       

No spiders attacked me that night.   An enormous kangaroo jumped out from the bushes directly in front of me, giving me the closest thing to a heart attack without actually having a heart attack.    My scream apparently did not wake anyone (not exactly comforting thought).

I got through that night as you do.    Not a lot of choices stuck out in the bush.       

Lessons learned:

  • I  always take medications that could help me in such a situation eg. Anti-nausea tablets (prescription) and anti-diarrhoea tablets (eg. Immodium) .   Plus we have a Porta Pottie for trips where there are no toilets close by!

  • As for children illnesses, the camping box includes, apart from the First Aid Box, pain relief (eg. Panadol for Children) and sore throat lozenges and stronger pain relief for dire situations.     

  • Additional things to take for trips where a chemist is not close by include hayfever relief medications and lots of band aids.   With children, you can never have enough bandaids!

Was that the last minor (and I realise it is minor) illness we have had when camping.....Nope!    Were we better prepared for the next illness?       No.         But I can tell you that these days our camping supplies are a lot better stocked for such occasions.

So if you get sick when camping, you better hope that the Go Camping Australia Family is in the campsite next door!         Please feel free to share your camping stories about camping and illness!!