One of our favorite family activities as we visit new places is to get out into nature for a good old fashioned hike. This can be on a challenging trail up a mountain in a national park or it can be just walking around a big city.
Hiking is a great way to get out and experience the area you are in and is a great activity for the whole family. Fresh air, exercise, being outdoors! There’s a lot to love about hiking.
There can also be a lot to hate about it. We’ve learned it can be an extremely challenging task when we are not on the same page as our kids when it comes to the hike. The good news is that we’ve also learned a few things on how to make a hike successful, so check out these tips on how to make hiking with kids a success.
Set reasonable expectations
This is the most important tip of all. You need to have the right expectations when heading out on a hike with your kids. This means the hike itself should be suitable for your kids’ abilities. They’re working harder than you are walking down the trail, so choose a hike that is right for your kids, or better yet, pick one out together.
The other expectation you should be aware of is how the hike is going to go. Most likely there will be smiles, laughs, tears, frustration. Go into the hike expecting this so when it happens your aren’t thrown off. Go with the flow and enjoy and encourage the good times and quickly forget the bad times.
Let your kids explore
Part of hiking is exploring. You’re seeing new sights and for a child, they’re seeing a whole lot more than you are. The log you just went past is a great pirate ship. The tree over there is a perfect castle.
Let their imaginations run wild and let them play! Jump right in with them and remember what it feels to be a kid again. Your kids will have a blast with you joining in and it will help the hike go much better.
First and foremost, make sure to bring enough food and water for the hike. You and your kids will need enough fuel and hydration to stay healthy on the hike. We always feel you can’t have enough food or water, so pack as much as you can carry.
Secondly, pack some sweets that your kids can enjoy during the hike. Make it special for them. We love bringing Ring Pops as they last long and are pretty safe to eat while walking. And they’re attached to your kids finger, so less likely of dropping them.
Speaking of dropping, be sure to not to leave any food or trash behind during your hike. Keep yourselves, other hikers, and the animals safe by carrying out all you carried in.
Another good thing to have in your arsenal are good hiking games. This can keep your child’s mind occupied and engaged with you during the hike.
Things like “I Spy,” or “Guess the Animal I’m Thinking Of,” or one of our favorites is story telling (See No. 5 in www.crazyfamilyadventure.com/top-5-family-travel-games).
This is where your child fills in the details of your story, like who the story is about, what they’re going to do, who they meet along the way, and you put it all together into one epic story.
Use proper gear
This one has quite a range. Be sure to have the proper clothing for you and your child. I’m talking layers here. We’ve also found it useful to pack an extra pair of shorts or shirt for each child in case you come across water. Playing in a stream during a hike is like striking gold.
Also having things like a backpack carrier if your have small kids that need to be carried at some point throughout the hike. It’s much easier to have a child on your back than to carry them in your arms while hiking.
Having the right gear is a tough one because you don’t want to carry too much, yet you need certain items to make the hike successful. Experiment with this and learn from your past hikes.
For more tips on hiking with kids, check out our post at www.crazyfamilyadventure.com/15-tips-hiking-with-kids. Hopefully this will make your family hiking experience a great one!