So, you love the great outdoors. Back in the days when you didn’t have any little people, you loved going off on long hikes and getting away from it all.
For you, there’s nothing like the feeling of drinking in the view after a long walk through a beautiful, mountainous landscape.
But these days, there’s one big difference. You’re no longer quite so free to wander off on your own. You’ve been blessed with a family, and you’ve got their needs to take into consideration.
You want to share one of your favourite past times with your kids on family-friendly hikes, but you also want to make sure that everyone has a good time.
Mostly, you want to make sure you come out of it with your sanity intact, without having to deal with any meltdowns whilst you’re out in the wilderness!
If you’ve been eyeing those dusty hiking boots wondering whether the time is right to introduce your kids to some family-friendly hiking trails, and dreaming of fitting in a few long hikes on your next family activity holidays, then you’ve come to the right place.
Tips for surviving hiking with kids.
Read on for our top hiking tips for hiking with kids, which we’ve learned the hard way, followed by a few suggestions for the best destinations for you and your gang for fantastic family adventure holidays.
How about hiking with a small child? Babies can come along for the ride – if you’ve got the right equipment!
You might be thinking that kids won’t be able to handle a hike of any kind until they’re at least six or seven, and you’d be right that it isn’t the smartest thing to take a four or five year old out on a hike, for all of your sakes.
But, whilst they’re still young and small enough to be transportable, they can come along for the ride with you. There are all kinds of carrier backpacks out there for babies and toddlers that are specifically designed to make the experience as comfortable as possible for you both.
When hiking with a small child, if you’re not comfortable, and they’re not comfortable, then neither of you are going to want to repeat the experience. Save your shoulders and invest in a good quality backpack.
Make sure they’ve got the right hiking wardrobe for your family adventure holidays.
Once they’re older and ready to stand on their own two feet, it’s important to make sure those feet are properly shod. You’ll all need a decent pair of trainers or hiking boots, and they should always be properly worn in before you go off on your family holidays.
There’s nothing worse than sore feet, after all! Throw some plasters in your backpack just in case.
Moving upwards, comfortable trousers or shorts that don’t restrict them are important, as are layers for their top half. You can easily get hot and sweaty whilst hiking, even on family hiking trails and even if it’s not that warm, so be prepared for them to strip off layers and dump them on you!
To top things off, don’t forget the hats and sunscreen, whether it’s sunny or not. Those rays still penetrate through cloud cover, so make sure you’re all well protected.
Look up good hiking trails for kids and don’t be too ambitious.
This one probably goes without saying, but don’t push them too hard. When it comes to the best hikes for kids, slow and steady wins the race. If you’re on a family adventure holiday then you can start gently and perhaps work up a little bit, but generally make sure to keep things as easy as possible.
Look up good hiking trails for kids before you go, or ask at your hotel if they have any recommendations for the best nature trails for children.
Keep the snacks coming during your family hiking trips.
Hiking is a hungry and thirsty business, at any time of year. Your number one priority after having the right gear should be making sure you’ve got plenty of snacks and liquids in your backpack.
If you’re going to be out for a long time during your family hiking trips, then don’t forget the sandwiches, but otherwise fruit, dried fruits and nuts (if they’re not too fussy!) are great options. You might even want to stash away some extra sweet treats as a reward for reaching the top or the halfway point.
Encourage them to drink plenty of water, especially if it’s a warm day.
Find out some fun facts before your next family activity holidays.
If you’re worried about your little ones getting bored and asking you if you’re there yet, then come prepared with things to keep them occupied. If you think it’ll spark their interest, then look up a few fun or crazy facts about the local history, flora and fauna.
You could even make it a kind of treasure hunt, and see who can be the first one to spot a certain kind of flower. Be creative, and it’ll be fun for you too!
Play some games when hiking with children, and let their imaginations run wild.
Other than a treasure hunt, there are plenty of other games you can play to keep things interesting. Think running races, word games… the possibilities are endless. You could adapt some of their favourite games to play whilst you’re walking.
This is also a great time to encourage their imaginations, and your own! Make up a story about the history of the area, or the dragon that hides under the mountain, or get them to. Turn hiking with children into a flight of fantasy!
Treat yourself to a little luxury on your family holidays.
Whatever you do, make sure that the base you have to come back to on your active family holidays after your adventures on kid-friendly hiking trails is the last word in comfort.
The hotel room that you’ll be coming back to after your hikes should have plenty of space for all of you to spread out and unwind, and preferably an outdoor pool for the kids to float around in.
Lots of other activities to keep them occupied in between walks, from kid’s entertainment to water sports, will mean they don’t get too bored of family hiking.
Take it slowly, and you’ll be enjoying family hiking adventures for years to come.
Essentially, on family hiking adventures, the trick is to come well prepared, and not push anyone too hard.
If you get the balance right between fantastic kid-friendly hikes and other family fun, then your kids will get the hiking bug, and you’ll be exploring the trails in each other’s company for a long time to come.