Hiking with Kids: 15 Tips for Enjoying the Outdoors
In all honesty, my kids have not always loved the outdoors. In fact, there was a time they hated being outside. Given a choice my son would gladly sit at home and play videogames until his eyeballs fall out. (HA) However these last few years as we’ve worked more and more on getting outside he’s really taken to being a wild child. They have slowly grown a love for the outdoors and even while we don’t hike and camp all the time, the times that we do they really soak it up. My oldest has developed an alternate ego who only comes out usually when we’re in the mountains.His alternate ego life motto is: “Lets do something a little risky” and while at first I was shocked by this new personality trait I have to say it’s so fun to watch him come alive in nature.
I have learned a few things that make hiking , especially with three small children, a little easier and I’m excited to share those in hopes it encourages you to not only get outdoors more with your children but for it to be an enjoyable experience for all!
Hiking Tip One:
1. Leave no Trace
The most important thing, I think, to pass on to our children is this principle. 9 out of 10 people are unaware of their impact they leave when out in nature. These principles cover everything from back country camping to being right in your own back yard. It’s important to pass along to our children the importance of our impact on the natural world in order to protect these places for future generations and out world. Check out more of the leave no trace principles here.
Hiking Tip Two:
2. Wear proper clothing:
It’s important to familiarize yourself with your surroundings and prepare accordingly. Whether it be hiking shoes, jackets, hats, waterproof clothing etc make sure you have the proper gear to keep everyone comfortable. There’s nothing worse then getting out on the trail only to realize you don’t have everything you need. So, make sure to research weather conditions.
Hiking Tip Three:
3. Choose the right trail
I like to start prepping my kids for a big hike a few weeks before we’re set to go. We don’t hike that often so their stamina is usually lower than the hikes we do on vacation. A couple weeks before we’re set to head out we make sure to get lots of hiking in to ease them into it and work up their endurance. If you’re kids are only used to hiking 30 minutes make sure you only go 15 in, so that you can go 15 out. Research your trails before you go so you know exactly what you’re going to be able to accomplish. If you’re hoping to catch a sunset make sure you have proper time/strength to get back before dark especially if you may be carrying one of the kids.
Hiking Tip Four:
4. Bring a First Aid Kit
I like to pack a little Ziploc bag with some band aids, Neosporin, alcohol wipes, tweezers, and gauze. Especially with small children a scrape can be a deal breaker. Break out that magical band aid especially one with fun characters on it and they’ll be ready to go again like nothing ever happened!
Hiking Tip Five:
5. Hike with Friends
Nothing motivates kids like other kids. They’ll have a blast running, playing make believe, discovering bugs, climbing trees and all sorts of other kids stuff out on the trails with their best buds! Additional bonus: You’ll likely be able to hike a little further without them even realizing it!
Hiking Tip Six:
6. Stay Hydrated
It’s so important to make sure you have plenty to drink while out on the trail. We love taking along a hydroflask with straw lids for each kid to carry and for longer hikes we take along our camelbak back packs. The kids have smaller versions for them to wear as well. They love sipping on the straw throughout our hikes.
Hiking Tip Seven:
7. Take breaks
Remember to enjoy the hike as much as the final destination. There is so much to see and learn about on the trails. We like to talk about the flowers, animals, plants, and other stuff we see while taking a little break to recharge. We refuel with water and snacks and get a new surge of energy to keep going.
Hiking Tip Eight:
LOTS AND LOTS of snacks! Some of our favorites are almonds, apple sauces, cheese sticks, granola bars, crackers, fruit leather, and fruit. Sometimes as a treat we’ll pack some chocolate chip cookies for when the hike is over, especially if it was a longer trail.
Hiking Tip Nine:
10. Play Games
To keep things interesting we like to play all sorts of games. Some of our favorites are story telling, ispy, scavenger hunts, singing songs, and follow the leader.
Hiking Tip Ten:
10. Cheer them on.
Kids respond to positive reinforcement. Encouraging them and celebrating small victories like jumping over a fallen log or finding the right path makes them want to keep going.
Hiking Tip Eleven:
11. Learn about the area you’ll be visiting first
Before we visit a place we like to pick up some local field guides. Once on the trail we look for new plants, birds, and wildlife. We like to learn about the way the environment is supported by the plant and animal wildlife and how they thrive off each other.
Hiking Tip Twelve:
12. Wear proper sun protection
Nothing is worse than a sunburn! Make sure you bring a sun hat and some good quality sunscreen. We love anything mineral based. Our favorite brand is badger.
Hiking Tip Thirteen:
13. Pack up the Night Before
I like to prep the night before to make sure we don’t forget anything. We typically wake up pretty early especially during summer to beat the heat so getting bags packed the night before is a huge help.
Hiking Tip Fourteen:
14. Look For Wildlife
When ever we hike I try to get my kids to be very observant of the world around them We look for any and all traces of wildlife. Not only does it entertain them but it opens a door to do all sorts of discussions about the world they’re in.
Hiking Tip Fifteen:
15. Hike somewhere new
Kids love change and new experiences. It keeps things fun and exciting. We love our trails close to home but we make it a point to get out and explore somewhere new every once in a while to keep it fresh. A great app for discovering and exploring new trails is called ‘all trails’. You can search by current location, state, National Park, length, time, etc to find trails best suited for what you’re wanting to do.
I hope these tips help make your hiking adventures a little easier and more fun for everyone! Happy Hiking!
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