The whole idea behind our blog is that traveling “after having kids” is totally doable. When we had our girls we decided to BRING THEM ALONG FOR THE ADVENTURE.
The same applies to HIKING, it can totally be done with Kids In Tow.
Here are some tips and tricks we have picked up over our years of hitting the trails with kids.
Tips for hiking with kids of any age
-Keep them fed and hydrated: bring more water and snacks than you expect. It’s important to keep everyone hydrated, and the snacks always work as a good incentive to keep kids hiking on.
-Watch the weather: bad weather can make any hike become miserable. Believe me, we had to hike home in the pouring rain once, what started as comical ended up being totally not fun when we were completely drenched and cold.
Hiking with infants to young toddlers
When the girls were infants we would hike with them in the front carrier. This way they could be comfortably swaddled and breastfeed while we hiked. Once they got into the toddler years and were more “aware” we’d have them in a backpack carrier so that they could be a part of the hike, able to see the world around them.
-Hiking during naptime is always a good idea too. The hiking motion puts little ones to sleep, so hitting the trail during nap time means they get to stick to their regular nap routine and you get that time to hike without kid interruptions.
-Make it fun. Kids get bored easily and often need distractions to keep them going. Singing songs and playing games like I spy can keep the trail fun for everyone.
-SNACKS! Let me reiterate this one. When the girls know that there is a snack or a treat in it for them, it serves as a great motivator. Ellia used to need a lot of motivators, so little snacks that we could continue to give her along the way helped; like fruit gummies or skittles.
Hiking with grade-schoolers
-Once the girls were hiking on their own two feet we gave them the guideline that they could run ahead but that they had to stay within our sight. They could climb boulders and have fun, as long as we could see where they were.
-Get the kids involved in the planning of the hike, where to hike, what to bring for food, and packing their own bags.
-Our girls love to sing, so we’ve started bringing a mini speaker to play music. They love to dance and skip their way up the trail.
-Keep it fun. Now that the girls can carry their own things, we let them bring small toys along. They’ve brought baby dolls (check out the cute doll carriers in the pic below!), spray bottles, and Ellia even brought a karaoke microphone to on our last hike! (Who knows why!? LOL)
-For slower walkers, like Ellia, it’s smart to stick to their pace. Walking too fast just tires her out and makes it that she doesn’t enjoy the hike, which in turn makes it un-fun for the rest of us. We’ve found that giving her mini-destination goals also helps, “we’ll hike to that point and then stop for some water”.
-Be prepared to take a lot of breaks. They have little legs, it’s only fair. Choose a trail that is a good distance and difficulty level for your kid. And stop a lot. Water break, snack break, pee break. Also, give them time to play and discover.
-Watch for signs that they’re getting tired and know when it is time to head back home. And know that although they are big enough to walk on their own two feet, you may still end up carrying them part of the way if they get tired.
-SNACKS! Again! Bring lots!
It’s also important to teach your kids (and lead by example) of the pack-in/pack-out or leave no trace mentality. Bring all your garbage (from dirty diapers to snack wrappers) back home with you to be properly disposed of. Leave the trails clean.
Hiking with kids can be super enjoyable if you are well prepared. Remember to keep it fun, slow down the pace, and enjoy the trail and the time with your kids.