Hiking can be an insanely fun family activity, but it requires careful preparation if you want to ensure a day that is not only fun but also safe. Not only that, but children are often not as up to long hikes, so you will need to think of ways of keeping them entertained.
If you have zero idea of how to ensure this, then our 25 tips for hiking with kids may be able to help you!
1. Prioritize Safety
Safety is a top priority when hiking. It can be very fun, but you do need to realize that you are in a fairly hostile environment where your kids are much less protected than you are.
We’ll give you a few safety tips below, but do make sure to put an emphasis on safety first and only then fun.
2. Pick a Proper Hiking Trail
A key aspect of staying safe is hiking at the right trail.
First off, your kids likely won’t be able to hike at the same trails that you may be used to. Pick a more family-friendly trail where there aren’t dangerous locations or areas where it’s easy to get lost.
Not only that, but choose a shorter hike, or a hike where it’s easier to leave should your children get too tired. A good option is to opt for a loop trail where you won’t need to cover a large distance going back and forth. Or if the hiking trailer goes one way, then anticipate that you may need to end the trip prematurely and go back.
3. Pay Attention to The Weather
Weather is both your friend and enemy, and you shouldn’t go hiking on too hot or cold days. If possible, go out on a calmer day without any storms or rains forecasted. Pay attention to humidity as well – high humidity can make the environment seem like a bath, so go hiking on days with lower air humidity.
4. Pack a First Aid Kit
This one is a no brainer. With that being said, pack a first aid kit with not only your but also your kids’ needs in mind. Pack wipes, an anti-itch cream, and anything else you think or know your kid might need along the way.
5. Bring Along an Emergency Kit
An emergency kit is essential to have on any hiking trip. Include equipment like whistles or radios which would help the members of the group signalize their location if they get lost.
Some parents go as far as connecting all the members of the party with a rope. And indeed, this is a solid way of ensuring that no one gets stranded.
Also, make sure to teach your kids how to use emergency equipment and educate them about its importance. Your children may feel restricted if connected with a rope, so you might need to explain to them what’s up.
6. Dress Your Kids Properly
This tip is among those safety tips that apply to any outdoor activity.
You and your kids need to be dressed properly for the weather. The best way is to wear several layers– when cold, the bulk of clothes will keep you warm, and it’ll be easy to lighten yourself if the weather gets too warm.
Pay special attention to footwear. Get durable and water-resistant shoes that will keep your and your children’s feet safe and warm. You may also bring along water shoes if you will encounter especially watery areas during the hike.
7. Bring Plenty of Snacks and Water
Bring plenty of food and drinks with you, more than what you think you will need. Do not bring too many sodas or other similar drinks – they will make your kids dehydrate even quicker. Nothing beats water.
As for food, it may be a good opportunity to treat your kids with their favorite food which they don’t eat often, like cookies or candies. But accentuate healthy food that will provide the members of the group with energy during the trip.
8. Keep an Eye on Your Children
Constantly keep an eye on your children. If they get injured, they may not realize what’s going on and stay silent. And if you notice that your kids are tired, make sure to take a break – tired children are more likely to get into accidents.
9. Don’t Allow Your Kids to Wander Too Much
We encourage that you allow your kids to explore, but don’t allow them to wander too much. You will have probably researched the hiking trail before the trip, but you don’t know what may be waiting around the corner. Keep everything organized and controlled.
10. Educate Your Kids About the Risks of Hiking
There are many things that could go wrong during your hiking trip, starting from an encounter with a wild animal and ending with the consumption of a dangerous plant. Educate your kids on what may be awaiting them during the trip and instruct them to let you know if they see anything suspicious on the trail.
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11. Teach Your Kids What To Do if They Get Lost
Your kids may get lost no matter how attentive you are towards them. To make sure that your kid stays safe, teach them what to do when stranded, including how to use the radio or whistle that you may bring along. And instruct your children that they shouldn’t panic no matter what, though it’s easier said than done.
12. Ensure That Your Kids Don’t Litter
Today, it’s more important to be environmentally responsible than ever. Your children may not have developed habits or ideas regarding eco-friendly tourism, and you should make sure that they are on the right path.
Give an example to your children by keeping all the trash in a dedicated container which will be disposed of at the end of the journey. Not only that, but keep an eye out to make sure that your kids don’t litter and leave no traces behind.
13. Get Good Backpacks
The journey will likely be a long one, and you should make sure that you and your kids are as comfortable as possible.
A major contributor to on-road comfort is the quality of your backpack. Don’t skimp on a good backpack – get one with good back support and even weight distribution. The journey will be less fatiguing and fun for everyone in the group.
Also, if you have an infant or toddler, you’ll need to get a backpack carrier. Again, don’t skimp and pay the money a good backpack carrier deserves.
14. Rest Frequently
Hiking will be quite an exercise for your children, and you should take breaks frequently. Don’t allow your children to get exhausted – it will be more difficult for them and stressful for you to complete the hike.
Breaks will be a good opportunity for the group members to replenish their energy. Not only that, it will provide your kids with an opportunity to look around.
15. Allow Your Children to Explore
Speaking of looking around, you should allow your children to explore while hiking. While safety is a top priority, you shouldn’t limit your kids to the predetermined route – allow some deviations, but ensure to supervise what your children are doing.
16. Know When to End The Hike
You need to realize that your children may not be able to complete the hike as you’ve planned it. They may get fatigued, or they may get injured, forcing you to retreat earlier than expected. Anticipate this and, as mentioned above, pick a hiking trail where it’s easy to go off.
17. Plan With Plenty of Free Time Ahead
If you can’t dedicate a good portion of the day to the hike, then don’t do it.
Your children will need to quench their thirst for exploration, and you need to account for that and allow a sufficient amount of time for it. Not only that, but keep in mind that your every break may take more time than anticipated.
Plan your hike early in the morning so that you and your kids have plenty of time before the end of the day.
18. Assign Roles to Your Children
Let’s be fair, your children probably won’t be as excited about the hike as you are. Fitness or natural environment will probably trigger only a few feelings in them, which means that you will need to keep your children entertained.
Parents commonly assign roles to their children to perhaps add some short-term goals to their journey and maintain the fun level. You may give freedom to your imagination and assign any roles that you think will be fun for your kids. Let one of them be the leader of the group, for example, and rotate the roles so that others don’t feel left out and also have fun.
19. Set Up Fun Games Along The Way
You may also improvise fun games for your kids along the way. For example, hold a competition on who finds the most butterflies during the hike. Organize any games that you think will be interesting for your children.
You may also bring board games for your kids to have fun during the breaks. However, we’d suggest that you don’t bring games which can last very long – you don’t really want to break the fun of your kids by interrupting them in the heat of the battle.
20. Bring Fun Items With You
You may bring along items like a telescope, binoculars, or a magnifying glass to further encourage your kids to explore their surroundings. Observing the environment is a safe way of exploration since your children don’t need to go far to have a look at a mountain or perhaps a settlement in the distance.
21. Talk With Your Kids
Make sure to converse with your children during the hike. Tell funny stories to each other, talk about things relevant to you, and sing songs to keep the spirit up and ensure that your kids don’t get bored during the hike.
22. Invite Your Kid’s Friends For The Hike
If you only have one kid, then it may be a good idea to invite his or her friends to the journey. It will be certainly more enjoyable for your child to communicate with their peers since let’s be fair, an adult company is often boring to children.
23. Praise and Encourage Your Kids
Make sure to praise and encourage your kids along the way. As mentioned above, they probably won’t be as up to the journey as you, and you should do anything you can to keep them entertained and motivated.
For example, tell your children that they are doing a good job and that they are tough to be able to endure the hike. Aside from verbal encouragement, you may allow your children to nosh on their favorite treats.
Maps and compasses may seem old-fashioned, but nothing can beat them when there is no network coverage in your area or if your smartphone’s battery is dead. If you travel frequently, then it’s essential that you teach your children how to use simple navigational tools.
Every once in a while, take out your map and have your children try to determine where you are. This will encourage them to look around to look for cues and reference points, and they will ultimately stay entertained throughout the journey.
25. Have a Rewarding Finale
Your journey needs to have a logical end and a goal. It may be some landmark like a waterfall or perhaps a distance that you’ve set out to cover with your children.
Passionate about the outdoors. He has accrued a wealth of experience and knowledge in naturalism, outside adventures, ski instruction, and writing. In addition to exploring the outdoors, he enjoys backpacking and camping.