It’s great to start your kids young in terms of being out in the woods and enjoying outdoor activities! However, it can be hard when you’re already out there and they keep stopping and refusing to walk one more step. Hikes also get more challenging with kids because of the extra preparation and stuff to carry.
We share with you the best tips for hiking with your kids!
Choose a Feature-Friendly Location
For the first few hikes with your kids, go for a hike that is not too long or strenuous. For kids, the hike is about the experience. Picking a trail that has some features is a great idea. This may include lakes, streams, waterfalls, or something else that will keep them occupied and motivated to reach the goal. Let them know that it’s about the journey, not the destination. If your child is more interested in getting down on his or her hands and knees to explore the undergrowth, then that is the experience for the day, there will always be a next time.
Equip Your Children for Safety
Give your kids their own small bag to carry which includes an emergency whistle, a jacket or extra layer of some kind, a few snacks, and water. If a child gets separated from you, they’ll have at some survival gear with them.
Remember that it is also not just about the gear. Teach them how to use it, along with other techniques for survival. They should know what to do when they get lost. At home, teach them to find a tree, make a nest, and stay put until help arrives. Teach them how to use their emergency whistle. Three sharp blasts are the universal distress signal
Bring More Food and Water
You’ll be needing more sacks and water than you will ever need during the hike. How much water you need depends on the terrain, temperature, and your kids’ age. The rule of thumb to follow is 4 cups of water per adult for every hour of hiking, and 1-2 cups per kid for every hour of hiking. You can also carry a Lifestraw or water filter as a backup in case you run out of water.
Encourage children to stay hydrated by letting them carry a pack with a bladder inside. Or make sure to stop for family water breaks at certain intervals, or even add a little something flavorful to their water. Energy bars are a great way to carry extra food without a lot of bulk. Look for bars specifically made for kids.
Using these snacks as a reward for making it so far or completing the trek is also a great idea. I know a family who gave out snacks to their children for every mile marker reached. You can also try stopping for an hour to have a whole picnic! These reward system strategies can really make your kids’ feet move.
Pick a Leader and Rotate
Kids like feeling that they are in charge, so one way for them to enjoy the hike is by taking turns on who leads the group. This will empower and motivate them. Just make sure that the leadership rotates or this could lead to arguments further down the trail.
Always Consider Time
Allot more time for the trip since kids are natural explorers who want to pick up and touch everything. Remember that the trip is about them since they’re new to the adventure, so be more patient. And besides, this is one of the greatest things about hiking. There is so much in this world that kids are yet to discover and examine, make sure they have the time to get their wilderness fill.