Summer is the perfect time of year to explore the great outdoors with your family. However, for many parents, the thought of hiking with kids sounds much more daunting than delightful. It may be difficult to drag them away from a virtual, onscreen world. However, a well-planned hike can instil love and respect for nature in children and show them the joys of achieving a goal!
To help your hikes go as smoothly as possible, here are our top tips for hiking with kids.
Step 1: Find the perfect path
First, don’t start with a very difficult hike. Realistically measure your family’s skill level and choose a hike accordingly. Do research on the trail’s elevation gain, conditions, technical difficulty and water resources.
Another important aspect when hiking with kids is to choose a hike with purpose. What things will be interesting and important to your children? Wildlife watching, different flora species, historical artefacts, a waterfall, fossils, ancient ruins, etc. If your kids are interested and involved it won’t be just a hike, but also an enriching family experience!
Step 2: Plan your time realistically
Hikes with children always take longer than expected. Plan your walk with plenty of time for stops to take pictures, examine plants and rocks, and play with mud, bugs and sticks.
Let your inner child take over! If you want to connect with nature — and your kids — it’s important to be curious, relax and have fun!
Step 3: Choose the right time to go
Always check the weather forecast on the day you are hiking. Weather can be very unpredictable, especially in the mountains, and the last thing you want is to be caught in the rain.
Early morning is usually a great time to hike, when it’s not too hot and energy levels are up!
Step 4: Bring some friends along
Friends make even the dullest of hikes memorable. Invite some friends who have kids the same age as yours, and you may find that your kids are much more open to the idea of hiking than before. Hiking can also be a great way to make new friends!
Step 5: Dress for the occasion
Choose clothes for your kids that will keep them as comfortable as possible. It may also be a good idea to take a change of clothes or an extra pair of socks so your children can play in the stream or mud!
When it comes to shoes, choose an old pair you know are comfortable. Never use a brand new pair of shoes on a walk!
Step 6: Pack snacks wisely and drink lots of water
You can get your kids involved in the kitchen before the hike to help prepare some fun snacks to take with you! Fruit, homemade granola bars, nuts and crackers are all fabulous options that are healthy and easy. Consider also secretly packing some chocolates or lollies, kids love a surprise treat!
Make sure to pack plenty of water and remember to keep everyone hydrated throughout the day.
Step 7: Pack a small first aid kit
Most people tend to ignore this step, but it can be extremely useful and make a huge difference if something doesn’t go as planned. You can buy a ready-made first aid kit and add a few more items you think you may need. We never go without Correct X, Terrashield and OnGuard Purifying Mist!
Step 8: Turn your kinds into mini Indiana Jones
EPIC. OUTDOORS. SCAVENGERHUNT. To a kid (and to adults), this sounds much more appealing than “hiking!”
For smaller kids, turn your hike into a hunt for nature gifts. We made a little list (see below) as an inspiration on what you can find in nature. Try to collect all the items throughout your walk and add your own discoveries.
With older kids, try Geocaching! Using a GPS enabled device, you can solve clues, find small treasures left by other hikers and trade them for something of your own. It’s a real-life treasure hunt! Research the best Geocaching app for your family.
Step 9: Don’t forget your camera
Besides the fabulous views, hikes are made of memorable moments with your family that you will want to treasure forever. Get ready to click away!
Step 10: Leave no trace
Going on a walk is a perfect opportunity to teach your kids about preserving and protecting their environment and that it’s our responsibility to keep it green, clean and beautiful. Take a plastic bag with you to collect any litter you make and any litter that others have left behind!
Do you love hiking? What are your favourite hiking spots? Tell us in the comment box!