When it comes to fun, outdoor activities to do with kids, hiking is one of the best there is. It takes little equipment, no special skills, and it’s a fantastic time to bond, explore nature, and get some exercise all at the same time. However, like anything, when it comes to doing it with kids, a little extra preparation goes a long way to making the experience enjoyable for everyone.
The last thing you want to do is head out and hear a bunch of whining and complaining after a few steps, or find yourself having to turn back because you forgot something essential. Here’s a list of 10 tips that will help you plan a great hike that’s fun for everyone.
1. Set expectations accordingly. Start small. I know it’s easy to get all excited and set out for a day-long hike, but it’s better to build up over time and see what your kids (and you) can handle slowly.
2. Bring things to keep them interested. Things like a magnifying glass, a compass, and a notebook to sketch in or record their findings are all fun.
3. Don’t forget the snacks. Snacks often provide the motivation kids need to keep going. Things packed with energy like trail mix or peanut butter and crackers are good choices.
4. Bring a first-aid kit. Band-Aids are paramount, as are things like bug spray, sunscreen, and tweezers in case of ticks.
5. Check the weather before you head out. There’s nothing worse than setting out on a nice sunny day only to be engulfed in a downpour with no dry clothes.
6. Take pictures along the way to create a memory book of all your hikes. It will help encourage future hikes too.
7. Gear up. Make sure everyone has properly fitting and comfortable shoes, hats, and other gear that isn’t distracting. Test it out BEFORE the hike.
8. Sing! Brush up on some great hiking songs to make the journey more fun. Think songs like “I Met a Bear” and “Happy Trails”.
9. Slow down. You don’t have to be in a hurry; stop and smell the flowers (literally) or examine leaves. Build in rest breaks and just enjoy it all without any time goals.
10. Pack an extra dose of patience. This may be the most difficult to come by but the most important component of all.
Do you go hiking with your family? Any tips to add?
Image via cambodia4kidsorg/Flickr