Tips for Hiking with Kids
Tara is guest blogging today with Tips for Hiking with Kids. Getting kids outdoors is near and dear to my heart. It’s important to put down the gadgets and get outdoors. Tara’s tips for hiking with kids are fantastic! And so is Tara’s blog so please to be sure to check it out. There’s a link in her bio.
In today’s plugged-in world, raising outdoor kids takes some extra effort, but I promise you — it’s more than worth it. Not only will your kids learn to appreciate and respect the natural world, they’ll also exercise their bodies and minds, soak up fresh air and sunshine, and enjoy valuable family time.
Need more proof that the outdoors is awesome for kids?
- According to a recent study, being outside improves distance vision and reduces your kids’ chances of being nearsighted as an adult.
- Exposure to nature and the outdoors may reduce ADHD symptoms in children.
- Children who are exposed to green spaces and natural areas have lower stress levels within minutes.
- Outdoor play increases fitness levels and raises levels of Vitamin D, helping to protect our children from a range of negative health issues.
Hiking has always been one of our favorite activities to do outdoors with our kids. We carried them in backpacks when they were small, but it wasn’t long before they wanted to walk themselves – there’s just so much to discover out there. Here are some tips for keeping your smallest hikers happy and healthy on the trail.
Make it Age Appropriate
- Start with short hikes. The last thing you want are kids that never want to hike because they’re tired. Short excursions will keep them looking forward to the next adventure. As they mature, both physically and mentally, they’ll want to challenge themselves on longer hikes.
- Follow your kids’ lead. The woods are full of wonder and magic. As an adult, you may have forgotten this, but your kids are just discovering those mystical qualities. You may be itching to get that vista or swimming hole, but don’t forget to meander. Let your kids set the pace, and you’ll be sure to find some of that childhood magic for yourself.
- Hike in the morning. Morning is a great time to get out exploring. The world is fresh and so are the kids. The hours between breakfast and lunch are a golden time for hiking, and as an added bonus, the house will stay clean.
Make it Fun
- Choose hikes with kid appeal. Again you know what will appeal to your kids – mine were suckers for water features, big rocks for scrambling, deep dark forests. They weren’t a bit interested in far-reaching vistas.
- Bring a friend. I find that hiking with friends is a great incentive to get out there. Not just for the kids, but for me as well.
- Have a picnic. Food has always been a huge incentive for my kids. On longer hikes, we tried to plan for a relaxing picnic with some playtime, and maybe even a read-aloud. It provided all of us with fuel, rest, and imaginations before the walk back to the car or house.
- Try letterboxing or geocaching. Who doesn’t love a treasure hunt? Thank you to whoever invented these super-fun activities for outdoor adventurers. If you haven’t tried them, you’re in for a treat.
Preparation is key when hiking with kids. Heck, preparation is key when raising kids! Pack a daypack for yourself, and let kids carry their own if you think they’re ready. Here’s what you should have for every hike:
- Great for finding each other if someone gets lost. Three short whistles is a universal emergency call. Teach your kids never to use this unless they’re in trouble.
- Everyone should have a bottle of water for day hikes.
- Great fuel and a good reward for tired kids.
- Extra clothes. An extra layer for every person.
- Small First aid kit. Because you just never know.
- Cell phone. Because you can.
Whether your kids are four or fourteen, now is the time to step out of your door (and your comfort zone) to embark on journeys big and small. Leave the dishes, the homework, and the internet, and explore this amazing world we call home.
“Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So… get on your way” – Dr. Seuss
About the author:
Tara is a freelance writer, outdoor adventurer, and obsessive road-tripper, living the good life in a little blue house in Vermont. When not exploring America with her husband and teenage sons, you can find her in the garden or playing in the snow (depending on the season). She blogs about family adventure travel at Back Road Ramblers and tries really hard to keep up with her Instagram and Twitter accounts.