As you’ll appreciate, taking the kids on a hike needs a different approach than hiking without them. However, provided you plan it right, there’s no reason hiking shouldn’t be fun for the entire family. The next time you’re planning a family hiking adventure, use these tips to get the most out of it.
Make It Engaging
Every parent knows how easily children get bored so choose a trail that has plenty to engage them. Obvious focus points are natural wonders like waterfalls, or established landmarks. However, hiking is also a good time to introduce your kids to wildlife and the flora and fauna that is found along the trails.
Playing games is another excellent way to keep your children from getting bored. Word games are a fantastic idea as they encourage learning, while making the hike fun for everyone. Singing songs and teaching rhymes works well, too.
Alternatively, try reading. I Spy camping books, or the British explorer Bear Grylls children’s books make excellent choices for reading. Or pack a favorite story book.
Encourage Engagement And Excitement Before The Trip
Your kids might not be quite as excited about the hiking trip as you are. And if it’s their first hike, they could also be anxious or apprehensive. However, there are ways to build excitement and allay their fears.
Download apps or see if there is an interactive website that your children can get engaged with. Let them choose the places they would most like to visit so they feel like they have some control. Recognized trail routes will usually let you download maps and this is a good way of familiarizing your kids with the journey ahead, and of letting them pick out landmarks or other points of interest.
Make your kids part of the planning by letting them choose suitable food and drink; candy and regular chips are fine, and they will keep energy levels up. However, ensure you pack foods that will give the whole family sustainable energy such as grains. For instance, children often like pasta and it’s easy to pack and carry, and once cooked, can be eaten hot or cold.
Ensure Trails Are Family Friendly
Away from the usual planning and packing there are few other things you’ll want to confirm. At the top of the list should be checking that the routes are family friendly and suitable for young children. And establish where picnic areas, shelters and stopping off points are. This way, you’ll know where to head to if your kids get too tired or if the weather turns bad.
Most regular hikers enthuse about layering, and with good reason. It’s one of the most flexible dressing methods for outdoors lovers, allowing them to adapt clothing as they go. Layering also allows you to pack light, solving the problem of carrying a heavy backpack.
If they’re old enough, encourage your kids to dress themselves for the hike. However, monitor them to ensure they dress properly and that they don’t wear too many layers to begin with. In addition, take spare clothing in case of a change in conditions or if clothing gets dirty.
Don’t Let Time Rule
Kids are rarely a slave to time in the same way adults are, so take that into consideration. They’ll want to explore; make allowances for that and let them take the time they want. However, you’ll also need to think about how long they’ve been walking and exposed to the elements for, and the time of day.
Allocate Tasks - Let Your Kids Take The Lead
When it’s safe to do so, let your kids take the lead, and when they’re not upfront, give them a role to play. Timekeeping or monitoring water levels and food supplies are all useful roles that your kids can undertake, and they can swap ‘jobs’ with other family members if they start to get bored. Letting your children take the lead, and giving them some responsibility will also help to boost your children’s confidence away from the hike.
While this is not a full guide, this article gives tips on some of the most important elements to consider when hiking with children. Going properly prepared and dressed, creating excitement prior to the hike and keeping the walk fun and engaging will ensure a good time for all. And assigning tasks will give your kids a confidence that will serve them well away from any hike.
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