In today’s busy world it can be hard to find time to reconnect as a family and spend some quality time together, but one great way you can enjoy each other’s company is by going hiking together. Hiking with kids may sound like a lot of hassle, but it can be great fun as long as you take some steps to make sure that you make the experience an appealing one. If you want to persuade your little ones to love the great outdoors, here are some tips and tricks for planning a fun-filled family adventure!
Don’t be Over-Ambitious
For you, hiking may be all about achieving goals and covering as much distance as possible, but remember that your kids probably won’t have the stamina or threshold to cope with a long and strenuous hike. The first few times you take your kids on the trail keep it short but sweet with a distance that can easily be covered at a pace to suit them. If you’re hiking with toddlers, unless you want to keep your excursion very short, it’s best to take a baby carrier with you so you can carry your little one when the going gets too tough.
Keep it Interesting
You may love nothing more than pulling on your vintage hiking boots, grabbing your trekking pole and hitting the trail, but your kids probably don’t share your enthusiasm. When hiking with kids, it’s important to keep in mind that there needs to be more to hold their interest than simply walking in the countryside. Plan to take them on a trail that will engage them, perhaps with a lake or stream where they can play in the water. This gives them a focus and a goal so they feel like they’re getting something out of the experience.
Plan Some Activities
If your kids are reluctant to join you on your excursion into the great outdoors, one way to persuade them is to make it fun. There are lots of activities that you can incorporate into your hike that will keep them occupied and engaged the whole time. Geocaching or treasure hunting is a great way to encourage little ones to get off the sofa and into the wilderness, and even simple games like I Spy can hold their attention.
Kids lack the stamina to walk for extended periods, so even though you may be used to walking for a few hours at a stretch, remember that the little ones are going to need more frequent breaks. Pack plenty of favorite snacks and make sure to stop regularly to let them recharge their batteries.
Invite a Friend
Hiking with only their parents to talk to can be a seriously uncool activity, especially for older kids who just want to hang out with their friends. Get around the problem by inviting some of their peers along to join in the fun. That way, you get the best of both worlds – time enjoying the hobby you love while the kids entertain themselves.
If you want the kids to fully engage with your hiking trip, involve them in the planning. There’s nothing like giving the little ones an element of control to engage their interest and persuade them that a day on the trail can be a fun idea. Let them look through guidebooks, maps and websites, and choose the places that they’d most like to see. Giving them ownership will lead to fewer arguments on the day, and you may even get to see and experience some new and cool places that you’d never thought of exploring before.
Kit Them Out
Apart from the practical element of choosing the right hiking gear for your kids, keeping them dry from the rain and sheltered from the sun and keeping their feet well protected, giving them their very own equipment will help them see hiking as a fun activity. Entrusting them with their own water flask or headlamp will make them feel more like a grown-up, while letting them bring a pair of child-sized binoculars will keep them occupied and bring an educational focus to your excursion.
It’s also important to be prepared for all eventualities. Adults on the trail can easily get on with things if they get stung by a wasp, get sticky hands or get sunburnt, but children won’t be able to take those things in their stride. Be sure that you are well equipped with accessories such as sun cream, antiseptic ointment and baby wipes so that you can handle anything that comes your way.
With a bit of forwarding planning and by generating plenty of enthusiasm, getting your kids to love hiking as much as you do isn’t the impossible task that it may appear. Handle hiking with kids in the right way and you’ll soon find that the next generation is just as excited about getting out into the great outdoors as you are.
About the Author: Isabella Beck is the Editor of www.madoutdoorist.com. Originally from Colorado, she was born into a lovely family that loves nature and adventure. Her goal at Mad Outdoorist is to provide you with all the information you need for a successful out-of-city adventure.
All photo credits submitted by MadOutdoorist.