FORGET resorts and theme park holidays; cosy tents and the great outdoors are the preferred relaxation options for many families.
Matthew McWhinney was on the hunt for bargains with his wife Tara and three children at Albury’s Caravan, Camping, 4WD, Fish and Boat Show at the weekend.
Mr McWhinney said his family took the time to “switch off” at least one weekend a month by hooking up their camper trailer and travelling to a place where they could only hear the birds and their children’s laughter.
“It’s an affordable holiday you can do often with a family,” he said.
“It seems to be the holiday of choice, the amount of families camping on the Murray River at Christmas was phenomenal.”
Mr McWhinney thought it was the best way to escape technology and spend time together as a family.
The Barooga family attends the show every year to get a feel for what other families do on their trips.
“And I usually leave with a few hundred doll- ars worth of knick knacks — much to Tara’s disgust,” he joked.
Organiser Loretta Payne said in the 15 years since the show started, the major change was the type of people who attended.
“People in their 30s and 40s with families make up the majority of our attendance now,” she said.
“There are not as many grey nomads now, there used to just be people over 50.”
Ms Payne said she noticed many young families camping rather than travelling somewhere tropical and staying in a unit.
“They find their kids are outside the whole time and not cooped up playing computer games,” she said.
On Friday about 1700 people attended the expo at Albury Showground, which Ms Payne said was an increase on last year.
“I think maybe most people came on Friday because of the rain on the weekend,” she said.
She said it was the busiest Friday they had had in the 15 years.
The rain did end up keeping many camping enthusiasts away, with numbers on Saturday down on last year by a third.
More than 4000 attended last year with only 2700 walking through the gates on Saturday.
“You have to put it down to the rain and we can’t help that,” she said.
But yesterday’s numbers more than made up for it with 3502 people, a record for a Sunday crowd.