July 2016


New Caledonia is a French territory about a thousand kilometers east of Australia, comprising of the main island Grande Terre and groups of smaller islands: the Loyalty Islands, the Chesterfield Islands, the Belep archipelago and the Isle of Pines. These islands are surrounded by a massive barrier reef and this is still one of the most pristine areas on the planet. New Caledonia is a French colony and it is an interesting mixture of native, Asian and French culture. Surprisingly, this is also one of the most family-friendly regions in the world, which makes it great for vacationing with kids. Here are some of the things you can do if you’re travelling to New Caledonia with kids.


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Since you will most likely land in Noumea first, the capital of New Caledonia, you can start by exploring the city – and all it has to offer – and then later you can go on and explore the other islands, far away beaches, climb mountains and find other kinds of amusement.


1.     Visit the aquarium

A great way to introduce your kids to marine life is to take them to Noumea’s amazing aquarium. It is abundant with turtles, star fish, clown fish, sting rays, sea snakes as well as with the giants of the sea like sharks, whales and dolphins. What is special about this aquarium is that it uses running seawater and natural sunlight so the experience is as authentic as it can get, and you can enjoy the natural colors and fluorescent corals. If your kids are brave enough to watch shark feedings, they will have a chance to see it here.

2.     Take a ride on the petit train

If you want to go sightseeing and visit the most important places in the city, the best way is to take a ride on the yellow Tchou Tchou Train. You will get great views of the city’s remarkable colonial architecture, stunning beaches and city parks. Since this is also the cheapest means of transportation around the city, you can always stop for some French pastries and tropical fruit snacks and hop back on the train.


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3.     Check out the zoo

The train can also take you to Noumea’s small zoo Parc Zoologique Forestier where there is a lot of shade, and you can spend a relaxing afternoon strolling around and looking at many different species of birds typical only for Australia. You can see the national symbol of New Caledonia – the cagou, a flightless bird. The park offers beautiful views over the lagoon and it’s fairly cheap.

4.     Hang out in the city centre in the evening

There is usually a lot of entertainment at the main city square in the evenings, especially on Thursdays. A special kind of New Caledonian music – called Kanaka – involves a lot of dance and many nursery rhymes and lullabies that your kids will find interesting. Here, you can also enjoy face-painting and ice-cream which is more than enough for a fun evening out.


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For things to do and places to go off of the main island, you should look up the cruise deals where you will certainly find some amazing New Caledonia packages that spell adventure for the entire family. Here are some of our favorites.

        5.  Get near an active volcano

If you have kids who are over seven, and you think they can handle a visit to an active volcano, you have a chance to see one from up close. There are daily trips to Mount Yasur on the Tanna Island where a true fire spitting volcano is located. This is the most active, but also the most accessible volcano in the world and you can get views of blazing magma and shooting lava from an aircraft, or get quite close to it on the ground. There are daytime and night-time tours available and this is truly a once in a lifetime experience.


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6.     Post mail underwater

The is a small island called the Hideaway Island just off the coast of Vanuatu, that has a very special place worth a visit. It is, believe it or not, an underwater post office where you can actually go and mail your waterproof postcards from. You will need to snorkel your way there, of course. This place is the closest we got to the world of SpongeBob SquarePants, but it’s a good start. Your kids will adore it. Other than that, there are beautiful beaches on this small island and you can spend the day there swimming, diving and snorkeling.

7.     Bathe under the waterfalls

Just 15 minutes out of Port Villa, there are beautiful waterfalls called Mele Cascades. Surrounded by the lush tropical rainforest, there are natural cascading waterfalls you can stand or sit under, as well as amazing rock pools you can swim in. Simply enjoying the scenery is a breathtaking experience as it all looks like a true tropical paradise from movies. Seasonal tropical fruits and drinks served in the Mele Cascades Riverside Garden can only add to this magical experience.


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8.     Meet the Aborigines

There are many tribal people living in New Caledonia and it is fairly easy to get in touch with them and visit. For example, in Moague on the Loyalty Islands, you can book a tribal accommodation in the form of simple round huts right on the sandy beaches. They are basic, but clean and they offer a unique experience and a chance to explore the local customs and food. Also, this helps you get some kind of an idea of what life was like here before Europeans came. Port Orly and Santo are also good options for similar experiences.

9.     Don’t miss the Duck Island

The Duck Island is a tiny island that can be reached by a five-minute taxi boat ride from Noumea’s Anse Vata beach.  You can snorkel, swim, sunbathe, have a picnic and watch kite surfers, so it is perfect for relaxing. There is even an underwater snorkeling path marked out by a series of numbered buoys. This underwater path allows everyone to experience the marine world firsthand without the diving experience – only snorkeling equipment is needed.


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10.                        Snorkel with manta rays

Even if you or your kids don’t have the experience in snorkeling and diving, there are many places in New Caledonia you can quickly learn to do so. It is completely worth it, since you will have the opportunity to snorkel with manta rays. There is a place called Touho’s seabeds, some 350 km from Noumea, where you can get the best of exploring the barrier reef. There you will be able to see the giant Manta rays, and even have the chance to swim and snorkel with them, or observe them from close proximity.

New Caledonia is a breathtaking place and we are sure that, wherever you choose to go, your kids will most likely remember it for the rest of their lives. Your South Pacific adventure is calling: ready, set, go!

So many people say they want to travel, but they don’t because they have kids. You know what? Kids are flexible and if you really want to, of course you can visit that far away destination. Don’t use your kids as an excuse. Naturally kids change the way we travel, but that’s no reason not to go!

We’ve traveled for most of last year. We spend two months in Dahab, Egypt and eight months traveling around South-East Asia. When we left The Netherlands, our home country, our son was 18 months old. Sure, traveling with a small child is very different from traveling as a couple. But different doesn’t mean it wasn’t fun! It was a fantastic experience and we would go again in a heartbeat.

Fear and other excuses not to travel long term

Both of us have a serious case of the travel bug. And we’ve backpacked (and later flashpacked) a fair bit before our son was born, both solo and as a couple. We always dreamed about leaving Holland for a longer time, doing a world trip or living and working abroad for a while. One of my favourite quotes says that you’ll regret the things that you didn’t do much more than the ones you did. But somehow the timing was never quite right. Steady jobs offering financial security, fear to give up our home and our stuff, family obligations… there was always an excuse. Until suddenly the timing was exactly right…

Enjoying ourselves on a motorbike

Enjoying ourselves on a motorbike

A child is no reason to stop traveling

One of the first things we agreed on, when we talked about having a baby, was that it would not be a reason stop traveling. Of course you can’t tell upfront what your little one will be like, but that was our intention anyway. Nobody can prepare you for the experience of becoming a parent for the first time. It completely rocked my world and travel was the last thing on my mind. But after a pretty rough start the first three months, things settled and we decided to spend the last month of my parental leave in our holiday house in Dahab, Egypt. While there my boss informed me that due to reorganisations they were forced to let me go. I was shocked and angry, but looking back it was the best thing that ever happened to me. We ended up staying in Egypt for 2,5 months. We had a great time and came to the conclusion that, even though we were now three instead of two, we could definitely make long term travel work.

All kids love to play

All kids love to play

No more excuses, we’re leaving!

Over the course of the next year we talked about leaving a lot, but it was still only talk. And although we did mention our dream to some of our friends, we didn’t take any real action. I didn’t have a job anymore, my boyfriend was self employed and could leave at any time, we had some savings, there really wasn’t anything standing in our way. But, we had a very affordable rental apartment that we didn’t want to give up. Our final hurdle. And that’s when, very unexpectedly, good friends of ours broke up. He would stay in their house and she said she’d take our apartment. And just like that it was settled. No more hurdles, no more excuses, we were leaving!

Making tea with one of our bedouin friends in Dahab, Egypt

Making tea with one of our bedouin friends in Dahab, Egypt

Uhh, so where are we going?

We could sublet our apartment for maximum one year, so that decided our time frame. We had no set plans about where we were going, just that we would travel around South East Asia because that’s where we figured our money would last the longest. We had only three very short months to clean out our house, sell or store our stuff and in the mean time we had a demanding 1-year old to take care of. Weirdly enough, after dreaming about leaving for so long, our bucket list was suddenly completely empty. So we decided to go to our house in Egypt again and figure things out from there.

With daddy on Khao San Road, Bangkok, Thailand

With daddy on Khao San Road, Bangkok, Thailand

Changing our mindset

We figured traveling with a toddler simply meant traveling at a slower pace and choosing destinations that were a bit less remote with more facilities. Even though we’re in our late 30’s now, in our hearts we’re still the 20 something happy go lucky backpackers we used to be. The traveling families we met while backpacking as a couple always made it seem so easy. I don’t think we really understood how our son would change the way we travel. We had to say goodbye to things we loved about being on the road, but also welcomed a lot of fantastic new experiences. It really took us a while to adjust to this new way of traveling. So what were our challenges?

Planting a tree for the Wana Ropa project in Ella, Sri Lanka

Planting a tree for the Wana Ropa project in Ella, Sri Lanka

Challenge 1: Destination and accommodation stress

I have always been a bit of a control freak. Even when it was just the two of us, I would often book a place to sleep for the first night in a new location. Just to be on the safe side. I would look at the reviews, but if it was moderately clean it was fine. It took on whole new proportions when traveling with our son! My inner control freak went totally nuts and I spend hours online researching new destinations and accommodations. Did the place have hot water, was it clean, was there a pool, what were other people saying about it, was the room big enough for Jace’s travel tent so he’d have a place to sleep… Things I never even considered when it was just us two. Combined with our relatively small budget, the fact that we usually decided where to go fairly last minute and the sometimes terrible internet connection, it was quite stressful. When you have so many requirements it’s often easier and cheaper to book well in advance. We did have a few places though where we would have loved to stay a bit longer, but couldn’t because we’d already booked onward flights. It’s a challenge finding the right balance.

Challenge 2: Too much luggage

Maybe you went a little overboard buying baby stuff for your firstborn? Well, preparing for your first big trip with a child is quite similar. Looking back, the amount of luggage we hauled around was absolutely ridiculous. Children don’t need a whole suitcase of toys and books, or 20 different outfits to wear. On top of that we also chose to bring some of our scuba dive equipment. What were we thinking?? This was such pre-child travel behaviour! We did go to some awesome diving destinations, but could have easily rented the equipment. If you pack too much stuff you’re attached to, it’s hard to loose when you decide you need to travel lighter. And trust me, this point will come on such a long trip. Sure, it’s practical to bring some extra clothes for your child. They usually get dirty a lot easier then we do and doing laundry isn’t always an option. Some lego is great and can be used for lots of different games, but also for learning colors and counting. And of course your child’s favourite stuffed animal or doll to keep them company and help them sleep (be really really careful not to loose it!). But keep in mind that kids don’t need much. Sticks, stones, mud and plastic bottles are great toys too. We gave away at least half of our stuff during our year on the road, and still had too much.

Challenge 3: Changing your perspective

Becoming a parent is a life changing event. Suddenly the world doesn’t revolve around you anymore. You often hear people say ‘when my child is happy, I am too’. Of course that’s not completely true, it goes both ways. So when traveling with children it’s a challenge to establish some middle ground and find activities that you both like. It really requires you to change your perspective on travel. Slow down, enjoy everyday life in a new culture… it’s not about seeing and doing as much as you can anymore. Maybe you don’t get to visit that museum, but spend your day in a playground instead. It’s a lot healthier to live in the present moment anyway. All this is fairly easy when they are small, but it gets harder as they get older. We already discovered the difference between a 2 and a 2,5 year old. We’ve seen just about every playground in Vienna, Prague and Berlin when we were there recently, and only a few other things. But all three of us had a great time 🙂

Challenge 4: Diaper hunting

Different countries, different customs. Where we live they simply sell diapers in all shapes and sizes in the supermarket. But we quickly found out that’s not the case everywhere. In Dahab we needed to go to the pharmacy to find diapers, in Hanoi’s Old Quarter some obscure small shops sold them. Each new location posed a challenge in our diaper hunt and sometimes it really took some persistence to find them. From experience I can tell you that diaper pants (most practical for an active toddler) are even harder to find than regular ones. This ‘hunt’ for diapers was something we obviously never even considered when we didn’t have kids.

Challenge 5: Feeding your child

I have some friends whose kids are picky eaters and boy are they struggling! We’re so lucky our little world traveler eats just about anything, but still, finding healthy food for him was a challenge sometimes. Where, when and what you eat isn’t such a big issue when you’re traveling by yourself. With a child it’s a whole different matter. They’re hungry and they want to eat… NOW. When we first started traveling in Asia our son’s diet mostly consisted of white rice and chicken. And fruit, lots of fruit. Of course eating in restaurants or street stalls wasn’t always easy either. Toddlers are so easily distracted! The one country where we really struggled was Sri Lanka. He really didn’t like the spicy curries, didn’t like the rice there and especially further up North non spicy Western type food was hard to find. So he ate mostly roti and fruit and I did worry a bit. After Sri Lanka he completely made up for it though, eating two full hot meals a day in Thailand. He still often chooses noodles or rice over french fries.

Challenge 6: Nap time

We chose to let our son determine our pace. We woke up when he did, chose activities that we could do in the morning, went back to our accommodation so he could sleep after lunch, went out for a bit after his nap, had dinner and made sure he was in bed by 8PM. It may sound a bit boring, but keeping this predictable routine made sure he was happy and rested. He would sometimes fall asleep in the stroller or in the back carrier, but he slept much better in his bed. I think it’s different when you’re on a 2-week holiday and want to see and do as much as you can, but we knew we’d be away for a whole year. Of course this was a big change from our normal travel routine, where we would go out in the morning, go sightseeing all day and get back late at night. I think it was the one we struggled with the most, especially when we were staying in a hotel room with no outside space and at least one of us was ‘stuck’ there during his nap time as well. At almost 3 years old he’s now no longer napping anymore and when we recently went on a two week trip to Vienna, Prague and Berlin it was a huge relief to be able to go out all day again.

Challenge 7: Contact with the home front

A simple text message saying we arrived safely or moved to a new location used to be enough. We didn’t think about home too much when we were traveling. But of course, back then our parents weren’t grandparent yet. Big difference! Grandparents want to talk to their grandchild every few days, hear all the stories, all the developments and be kept in the loop. FaceTime and Skype became our new friends 🙂 Sometimes it was a bit frustrating and a real challenge to find an internet connection that was fast enough though.

Everything changes but the most important stays the same

When you read our story above you might think that traveling with a child is one big challenge, but really it isn’t. A lot of things that we love about travel stay exactly the same. Living outside most of the time, always a little bit outside of your comfort zone, feeling the freedom and unpredictability, having a lot of family time and no obligations, meeting lots of new people, experiencing new environments and new cultures… That’s what makes it so exciting and that’s why we’ll always continue to travel. It’s addictive and our son simply adds another dimension to our adventures. Now we get to share all those fantastic experiences with him. What more can we wish for?

With mommy at Chinatown, Bangkok, Thailand

With mommy at Chinatown, Bangkok, Thailand



Lisa van den Berg has spend most of the past year traveling around South-East Asia, together with her partner and their toddler son. Currently they’re back in Haarlem, Netherlands, contemplating their plans for the future. Lisa is an experienced online marketing professional and trying to become a digital nomad. If time permits she likes to read, write, travel the world and dive. 


As director of ALLTRACKS Academy, provider of ski instructor courses in Whistler, Ive been visiting this leviathan of Canadian ski resorts for over a decade. Although I do visit alone on business, I often travel with my wife and two children, currently aged 8 and 10. As such, Id like to think I can offer some first hand knowledge on what makes for an amazing ski holiday to Whistler with young children in winter.


 With kids in Whistler

With kids in Whistler

Heres my top ten tips (with plenty of input from the kids too)!

1. Go Skiing

Obviously first and foremost Whistler is a ski resort, and so if youre visiting anytime from November to May, skiing should be on the cards. Whistler has an incredible ski school (Whistler Kids) that will get your little ones moving on snow safely. For the particularly young, the school combines an introduction to skiing with lots of other fun activities such as building snowmen, sledging and indoor games when they get tired or the weather worsens. For children who are already strong skiers, there is still plenty to learn. The enthusiastic and competent ski coaches will ensure that your kids progress as far as possible during their vacation building their technique correctly while having loads of fun.

Lessons can be booked either in the resort or online. However, I strongly advise booking in advance as availability is limited, especially over the busy holiday periods like Christmas, New Year, Presidents Week and Easter.

2. Ice Skating

Whistler hosted the major skiing events for the 2010 Winter Olympics and part of the legacy is a fantastic Ice Skating Rink at Olympic Plaza. This was where the medal ceremonies took place during the Gamesbut is now home a wonderful open air public space. The ice skating rink forms the centrepiece and kids of all ages can have a great time here. There is always a very pleasant family atmosphere with lots of cafes, coffee shops and a childrens play park in the immediate vicinity.

3. Get an Ice Cream from Cows

After skating, why not grab an ice cream from nearby Cows? Making gourmet ice cream of over 32 flavours, theres something for everyone. Just one though.

4. Waffles in the Crystal Hut

While were on the subject of food. If your kids are enrolled in ski school and able to ski in the alpine environment, their instructors will probably take them to the Crystal Hut for homemade waffles on their final day as a treat. If youre skiing with the children instead, I recommend doing the same! The Crystal Hut is the antithesis of bland, cafeteria style ski lodge cuisine. Built in a traditional log cabin style, this cozy hut offers up delicious waffles with tasty toppings. If waffles are a little sweet for your taste, delicious home style buffalo stew is also available.

My insiders tip is to get there early- this place is pretty small and it gets busy from 11am.

5. Give Snowboarding a try

If youre kids are already proficient skiers, they might enjoy giving snowboarding a go. The Whistler snowboard school has instructors who are well trained in teaching snowboarding to young ones. The snowboard school has access to all the same facilities as the ski school and they can offer lessons to complete novices all the way up to experts.

6. Rock Climbing at the Core

If your kids are an energetic as mine, they might still need some activity even with a full day of skiing or snowboarding. Indoor rock climbing at Whistlers Core Gym is an ideal option. Anyone under the age of 13 does need to be accompanied by an adult. The Core offers a New to ClimbingLesson if you and/or your children are interested in learning about this exciting sport. If the kids really take to their skiing and want to explore the backcountry when theyre older then an understanding of climbing is certainly a useful addition.

The Core is conveniently located right in the centre of the village and open from early morning to late in the evening.

7. Trampolining at Bounce

Whistlers indoor trampoline centre is world class. It has various ball pits and trampolines for toddlers who want to play to teenagers keen to learn new tricks and manoeuvres, especially those who are looking to advance their freestyle skiing. There are drop in times or you can book out the facility if you are coming as a group. Located at Function Junction youll need to drive or take the bus to get there. Buses run between the Village and Function Junction regularly throughout the day and evening.

8. Tubing

For some light hearted fun with a dash of adrenaline be sure to check out the Coca Cola Tubing Park. Located at Blackcomb Base 2, it is easy to reach and a lot of fun. It is basically sliding down the mountain on a large inflatable ring and who does not love that? Children do need to be 3 years or older and at least 91cm tall. No previous experience is necessary but children under 12 must be accompanied by an adult. Tickets can be bought from the Guest Services kiosks in the village.

9. Swimming

There are a number of swimming pools around in Whistler. Many of the large hotels have lovely swimming complexes and are a great way to spend an hour or so after a day on the slopes. Hopefully you can enjoy a quiet 5 minutes on the hot tub too. If your condo complex or hotel does not have a swimming pool, don’t worry. You can by a day pass for access to many of the hotel pools and there is the Aquatic Centre at the Meadow Park Sports Centre too. This is home to a 25 metre pool, a lazy river, spouting bears, eight foot slide and basketball hoops. You can get your tickets either on the phone or at the reception at the centre.

10. Ride the Peak 2 Peak

Regardless of whether you or your children ski or not, a trip on the majestic Peak 2 Peak Gondola is an absolute must. The Peak 2 Peak links Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains crossing the Fitzsimmons Valley. It is the largest unsupported ski gondola lift, spanning over 3 kilometres and up to 436 metres above the valley floor. Not only is it an engineering wonder, the views are astounding. You and your children will marvel at the surrounding beauty of mountains, glaciers and forests. Time it right, and you can up the ante even more by bagging one of the glass bottomed gondolas.

I hope that you have a great holiday in Whistler and that one or two of these tips are helpful. Look out for our next blog on things to do if youre visiting over the summer months.

Camping is a wonderful way to explore the great outdoors. Spending a night sleeping underneath the stars is an ideal way to escape city life for a weekend and see some beautiful parts of the natural world.

Of course, we want to enjoy the experience with the whole family and spend some quality time together. However, the thought of sleeping in a tent or going somewhere without a TV may not be appealing to children. So how can you keep the kids happy while camping?


Family Camping

Family Camping

From our experience over the years, we’ve learnt some great ways to keep the children happy while camping.

Prepare Games and Activities

Wherever you are camping, there are some great games you can incorporate into your trip using nature. Of course, the games will vary for different ages but here are some of our tip suggestions for those who are under about the age of 12.

Treasure Hunt  – Woodland areas are a super place for a treasure hunt! Find some photos on the internet before you leave and print them out so the children can have a photo to match up with what they find. You could also hide some treats for them in the forest or some odd fun things for them to use later, such as glow sticks.

Be sure to create some rules. For example, they can only go a certain distance and they only have one hour, or half an hour to find everything. If you have multiple children you can either make it a competition or have them work together. If you’re stuck for things to find, you can find scavenger hunt sheets online to print out.

An alternative to the traditional treasure hunt is a digital one. This is ideal for exploring nature and leaving it untouched. For example, if you want the kids to find certain types of trees or flowers but don’t want them to disrupt the natural environment — plus they can’t carry a whole tree! — they can simply take photos of the things they have found. This way they also have a souvenir collection of photos of everything they’ve discovered.

Camping Olympics – With the Rio 2016 Olympics getting ever closer, this is a great way to get the kids enthusiastic about the games. It’s also a really fun way for the whole family to get active! You can do some simple Olympic games: the long jump (using sticks as a measure), a short sprint and hurling (throwing a ball will do). You can get everyone to give scores and declare a winner at the end.

Ghost Stories – As the sun begins to go down, huddle around your campfire or outdoor oven and let the ghost stories commence! If you know a story or can make one up on the spot that’s great, if not you could bring a book with you. The best way to tell stories is to make sure it’s atmospheric. Tell the story slowly, creating anticipation when a scary moment is about to come!

If the kids are a bit young for that, bring one of their favourite books to read around the campfire. Harry Potter is always a camping favourite!

Draw What You See – This one is good for younger kids. The camping environment is full of colours and parts of nature they may not see regularly. Bring lots of coloured pencils and paper and they can draw new animals they find or the different trees and mountains. They can show all their friends when they go back to school.

Scattergories – Sometimes the inevitable can happen on a camping trip: rain! When it rains, you need some backup activities which you can play inside your tent, of course only if you have a good waterproof tent. Scattergories is a brilliant and fun indoor game. All you need is paper and pencils.

  1. Write every letter of the alphabet on separate pieces of paper and place them face down so you can’t see what they are.
  2. Give everyone a big piece of paper. At the top write some categories such as animals, food, films, colours etc. Everyone must write the same categories.
  3. Randomly pick a piece of paper with a letter of the alphabet on. Everyone must then think of something in each category beginning with that letter. For example, the letter B. Animal = Bird, Food = Blueberry, Film = Back to the Future, Colour = Blue.  
  4. You have one minute to write all your answers secretly. After one minute, everyone reveals their answer. You get two points for each answer, but, if two people have the same answer you only get one point! You can do it as many times as you want with different categories.

The person with the most points at the end wins. Kids will love it and gives them a chance to think creatively about different categories.

Cook Some Delicious Homemade Food

As well as games, if your children have full bellies then they are sure to be happy on your camping trip! Although you may initially think it’s difficult to cook up some great meals while camping, think again. If you find a great outdoor oven you’ll be surprised what you can cook. Finding the right cooking equipment means you can cook a pizza, paella, jacket potato, crumpets and much more right outside your tent! Put some fresh ingredients in a cool box and you can cook your kid’s favourite meal! You can even get them to join in making the pizzas or baking some cookie dough. Getting kids involved in making the food is exciting and, somehow, makes it even more delicious when they eat it afterwards!

Be sure to pack the marshmallows too, as no camping trip is complete without roasting marshmallows over the campfire! A happy stomach can go a long way to having a great camping trip!