The Family Friendly Guide
Hiking with Kids: Everything You Need to Know
It’s an established fact: the more time children spend in nature, the happier they will be as adults. Hiking with your kids will not only open their eyes to the natural world outside, but will also provide some invaluable bonding time while creating unforgettable memories. The question is: How do you make their experience on the trail fulfilling? Here are a few tips to consider:
Start them young
It’s never too soon to go hiking with a child! Babies can enjoy the ride in a carrier or an all-terrain stroller. Come the toddler years, pick a shorter trail (as you probably won’t be covering much mileage), start early in the day, and allow lots of time. Part of the fun is letting them discover new things along the way, whether it’s squirrels climbing trees or flowers by the side of a path.
Get the right gear
Dress your kids in layers to keep them warm and dry at all times. Get them sun hats, waterproof-breathable jackets, wool-blend or synthetic base layers and socks, and supportive hiking boots (sneakers will work just fine for younger kids). It’s also a good idea to have them wear bright visible clothing so you can easily spot them if they run ahead. And, if they’re old enough, let them carry their own backpack with snacks and a bottle(s) of water. Also add a safety whistle in case you ever get separated, as well as a headlamp or flashlight.
Adjust your expectations
Remember that hiking is about the journey, not the destination, especially when you have young kids in tow. Make sure to keep it light and choose the right trail! Start them off with short and easy hikes, and always be aware of how far you are from the trailhead to ensure your kids have enough stamina for the return (even the most energetic toddler can tire out and need carrying all the way back!). You’ll be able to ramp up the level of difficulty as they grow older and become more experienced.
Make it fun
It’s a fact: Kids get bored quickly, so be sure to engage them throughout the hike, or whenever you sense a meltdown coming on. You could sing songs, tell stories, create challenges or play the I Spy game (“I spy something yellow!”), ask them how many birds they can hear in 60 seconds, discuss signs of impending weather, or decipher animal tracks! Hiking gives you a fantastic opportunity to teach your kids about the natural world!
Keep them well-fed and well hydrated
For a whine-free hike, it’s always wiser to pack more food and water than what you think you’re going to need. Bring low sugar, high energy snacks such as nuts, protein bars, fruit, and sandwiches, as well as plenty of fluids, and take regular breaks to keep the children in good spirits.
Hiking from a young age will no doubt instill a lifelong love for outdoor adventure in your kids. The more interesting and adventurous the hikes, the more often they’ll want to hit the trails! Planning a family-friendly hiking trip to the Mediterranean? Book your breathtaking vacation rental near some of the region’s most stunning trails today!