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Would you like to go hiking? Even for the most experienced hikers, planning a hiking trip that is “perfect” can be a challenge, especially when hiking with kids. Kids have different needs than adults, so if you’re walking for more than a short distance, you should prepare for them. As such, there are several things you can do to help yourself plan your perfect trip so that the memories are great rather than stressful.
In our family, we love going hiking. As a family, there’s just something about being in nature, by ourselves, that creates a bonding experience unlike any other. While we are on a hike, my children learn about the natural world. It allows my husband to step away from daily life for a while, and I personally get to relax myself in a way that I could never do otherwise.
Hiking, even if you dislike it, is a great way to spend some time outdoors. Hiking trips are a great way to keep your kids off of the couch and off their electronic devices. A hiking trip is far more than just going for a simple walk. It allows you to step outside your comfort zone, and you’re doing an activity that is healthier than simply sitting at home.
Hiking with kids is a great way to teach them not only about nature, but also how to get in a little exercise during the week. You will also prepare your kids to become a good parent, as hiking with your children helps them learn that they should take time to spend with their own children when they grow up.
Choose a Kid-Friendly Location to Hike
In order to plan your hiking trip, you’ll need to figure out where you’re going to hike and if you are hiking with kids, you will want to choose a kid-friendly hiking location. Locations like these don’t have steep drops or steep incline to climb and are generally flat. Older children and teens may be able to handle more complicated locations, however, they shouldn’t be attempted with younger kids for safety reasons.
When you hike alone, feel free to take a big trip like that. It is a good idea to plan your hiking destinations before you make any other preparations. Knowing where you will be hiking allows you to prepare for every possible scenario. Planning a hiking trip without knowing where you will be hiking beforehand can lead to missing important information, such as a closed trail or expected bad weather.
Keep Hiking Trips with Kids Short
In addition to finding a kid-friendly hiking location, keeping hikes shorter for kids should also be a priority. In other words, you wouldn’t hike the Appalachian Trail with your 5-year-old. You will need to consider things like whether you’re hiking with kids, if you have to go back to work on Monday, if your hiking trail is only open at specific hours, and other factors that could affect how long you spend out hiking. Your hike’s length is the second thing you should always consider, since the rest of your planning will depend on the length of the trip. The gear you take, the food you need, and so on will differ based on how long you’re hiking.
If you only have time for a short hike, many state or national parks offer fantastic day hike locations that can be hiked in only one or two hours. Many of those same parks offer longer hikes and camping areas nearby. When there are no camping grounds in a park, dispersed camping may be your best option.
Plan to Bring the Proper Hiking Gear
Before you leave for a hiking trip with your kids, make sure you have the necessary hiking gear. This is especially important if you will be spending the night – or longer – on the trail.
No matter how long your hiking trip will last, a quality hiking backpack will be necessary. It’s especially important if you’re hiking with kids so that you can carry snacks and other things they may need. If you’re camping on the hiking trail, make sure you bring a change of clothes for your kids, as well as extra socks, shoes, and anything they may need for sleep.
A list of the necessary camping and hiking gear for beginners can often be helpful for those who are learning how to camp and hike. Having a list will help you stay organized and make sure that you have everything you need when you need it.
A few items to consider are:
- Waterproof Bag for Storing Wet Items
- Kettle for Boiling Water
- Portable Mess Kit to Eat With
- Backpacking Tent
- Camping Lantern
- First Aid Kit
Does My Camping Gear Need to Be New?
It may seem as if it makes sense to buy all your camping and hiking gear new, however, in most cases, buying used camping gear will be just as good. New gear can often be incredibly expensive but buying used is a great way to save money on camping gear. However, there are a few tips you will want to keep in mind before you even shop for used items. If you are interested, this article HERE offers tips for saving money on used camping and hiking gear.
How to Get Paid to Shop
If you will be shopping online, consider signing up for a Rakuten account. Rakuten is an amazing site that will pay you cashback when you shop. Yes, you read that correctly.
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To get started, you will need to head HERE to the Rakuten website. Create an account and you’re all set to earn cash back the next time you shop!
Bonus: Not only will Rakuten pay you cash back for shopping with them, but new members also receive a FREE bonus with their first purchase of $30 or more! Currently the bonus is $30.00 making your first purchase effectively free!
Plan Full Meals For Your Hiking Trip
When you hike, you’ll want to travel light, but hiking requires a lot of energy; perhaps more than your body is used to. As a result, you should prepare full meals so you have enough calories to eat if you’re going to be out for long periods of time. Eating “right” is especially important if you’re hiking with kids.
Foods like Backpackers Pantry or Mountain House can be a great option since they are yummy and weigh practically nothing, but they can be costly. You can reduce costs by carrying things that you make at home, such as dehydrated fruits and trail mix. Making them at home is simple and they weigh next to nothing, just like freeze dried stuff.
Plan Kid-Friendly Snacks for Your Family Hiking Trip
If you have kids, you know how often they get hungry. For a family out on a hiking trail, this could be very bad if you are not prepared. Hungry children often results in temper tantrums of complete meltdowns.
These tantrums can be easily prevented. You simply need to carry snacks for your kids to munch on while you’re hiking. Things such as apple slices, granola and other kid-friendly snacks are all great ideas and won’t add much weight to your pack.
Plan fun side activities if you’re hiking with kids
While your kids will enjoy being outdoors and spending time with you, they will eventually grow bored with just walking. Keep them from getting bored by having side activities like nature scavenger hunts, rock hunting, finding a creek and letting them jump in the water and so on. Keeping their little minds active will make them happier and allow them to have more fun. If you are planning a hike in a national park, consider joining the Junior Ranger program. If your kids can complete the requirements, they will have a blast and earn a reward with each completion.
Keep Your Kids and Yourself Safe When Hiking
When planning a hiking trip, safety is the most important consideration. If you run into a wild animal in a bad mood, make sure you have something (legal is preferred here) to defend yourself. What you use is up to you, but make sure that you have it. The most dangerous wild animals for hikers are not always four-legged; sometimes it is the two-legged variety that poses the greatest danger. It could become very dangerous if you venture into the woods without a means of fending for yourself should the need to do so arise.
As I mentioned above, you should also keep a first-aid kit in your hiking pack. Even simple cuts and scrapes can become serious if not treated properly. First aid kits allow you to do just that without worrying about infection or dirt.
Always Keep Your Family Updated; Especially When Hiking with Kids
Finally, whether you are hiking with your children or you are going on your own, it’s a great idea to have someone who can keep track of your location. Depending on your situation, this could be as simple as giving them your itinerary or as complicated as using a handheld GPS for them to track your exact location.
Please do not skip this step. A hiking accident can happen to anyone at any time. If you don’t tell anyone where you are, you put both yourself and your children at risk.
The temptation to simply go out into the woods with the family can be overwhelming. However, while woods, forests, and paths are beautiful, they can also be dangerous. By planning ahead, you will instill a lifelong love of hiking in the entire family.
Does your family love to hike like mine does? Where is your favorite hiking spot? Leave me a comment and let me know so I can add it to my bucket list!