Hiking With Kids
Outdoor activities are great for the whole family, providing children with the essential learning they need through discovering nature and the environment around them. But hiking with kids does come with its own difficulties to overcome and there needs to be a high level of preparation before commencing the journey. We’ve outlined some top tips for hiking with kids, to ensure that your holiday and short breaks are filled to the brim with excitement, fun, and enjoying new experiences, that the whole family can get involved in. Take a look at some of our ideas below.
1. Pack A Range Of Snacks And Drinks
Kids get hungry quickly and consistently, exaggerated more so when doing something active. Hiking can be a tricky one to master in regards to feeding hungry mouths because there are rarely any convenient shops on the route and you might have a fussy eater on your hands too. Packing a range of child-friendly snacks and drinks is a sure-fire way to keep the complaining to a minimum. Here are some examples of great treat ideas:
- Child-friendly trail mix
- Nuts and dried fruit
- Fruit and veggie sticks
- Juice boxes and flavored water to keep them hydrated
- Homemade granola bars
2. Plan Regular Breaks
Although children seem to have boundless energy, they still require regular breaks and pitstops to refuel. Pre-empting when your kids might need these is the best way to ensure there are no tantrums or breakdowns over how hungry or thirsty they are. Planning regular breaks along your route, encouraging your children to take on board some water and look at what’s around them, is the easiest way to keep everyone sufficiently hydrated and full of energy, ready for the next part of the hike.
3. Sensible Footwear And Clothing
Kids are notorious for choosing inappropriate outfits for different occasions, so it’s important that you invest in some robust kids’ hiking shoes that not only provide support and comfort on those long walks but also look cool and stop any complaining. Hiking shoes for children come in a range of different styles and colors, so there’s bound to be something out there to suit your child’s personality. Investing in some children’s hiking shoes is a great way to encourage your family to go hiking more often, making the most of both your walking boots and making as many memories as possible whilst enjoying the great outdoors.
4. Choose Your Route Carefully
Boredom can set in easily when it comes to entertaining children, so make sure you plan a route that has lots of different elements to it along the way. Whether that’s rocky mountains to look at, flowers to smell and identify, wildlife to take pictures of, or water to splash around in, it’s important that your route is engaging, not overly long, and great for photo opportunities. Too hard a route will be difficult for your children to manage and more stressful than it’s worth. Keep it simple and straightforward. Plan when you’re going to set off too. Earlier morning hikes tend to be better for children, as their attention span is heightened and it’s cooler, which means no extra complaining about the heat.
5. Go In A Group
Kids love to be around other kids, so round up a whole group to go along on your trip. This means that you’ll have other adults to supervise and keep an eye out for any potential mishaps or dangers – and you’ll have grown-ups to talk to.
6. Create Fun Games Before You Go
To keep your kids really engaged and entertained on your hike, create a checklist of wildlife and nature to look out for along the way. This can be simple things like leaves, or a tall tree, or a bird, and then trickier ideas, such as animal tracks, spider webs, or particular insects. The harder the element is to the find, the more points your child will receive. You could even turn it into a competition with a prize at the end.
7. Pack The Right Equipment
But don’t be surprised if you end up carrying most of it. It’s great to encourage your kids to take their own rucksacks, but at some point, they will end up passing this over to you, as they run off and find their next butterfly or beetle. Ensure that you pack most of the essentials in your backpack so that when the time comes to carry everyone’s bags, you’re not completely overloaded. Ensure that you’ve packed the right equipment too, such as:
- First aid kit
- Extra layers if someone gets wet and/or muddy and/or cold
- Water and snacks
- GPS / compass
- Wet wipes
8. Create Some On-Track Games
Whether that’s I-Spy or simply counting steps or how many sticks can you collect, there are loads of simple games you can come up with to help alleviate any boredom during parts of the trail that might not be that interesting. Use your imagination – or get your children to use theirs.
9. Take Your Rubbish With You
Natural environments are a great way for children to learn about preservation and caring for the world, so it’s important to teach them to take their sweet wrappers and rubbish with them whilst walking. Pack a spare carrier bag so that you can designate a rubbish vessel and encourage your children to put their waste in there, as well as picking any up along the way.
10, Promote Leadership And Responsibility
Designate a different ‘leader’ throughout every part of your trail. This means allocating a child as the group leader and allowing them to take control and guide your pack through your hike. Although you’ll still be in control and overseeing the situation, kids relish in the idea of being head of the group, and it also promotes responsibility in your children. Keep encouraging your children to take control and ask which way they’d like to go next and ask them to stop and tell others to look at certain parts of nature.
- Take your kids hiking: 10 tips to make the adventure fun for the whole family – The Wilderness Society
- 22 Tips For Hiking With Kids That Every Parent Should Know – BuzzFeed
- 16 Easy Tips For Hiking With Kids (So You Can Enjoy It) – Y Travel