Outdoor families are close and loving families, and we all know that our children learn much more from being in the great outdoors than they do from being glued to a screen all day long, whether it belongs to a phone, television, or tablet. Hiking is also one of the best ways there is to keep fit, especially as it can be enjoyed as a family unit, and you don’t have to make major outlays to participate in it.
Day hiking is a perfect activity, as you can easily fit it in at weekends, during vacation time or can even be made exciting by heading off geocaching, so with that in mind, here are four handy tips that will help day hikes with your kids go smoothly.
1. Wear High Quality Hiking Boots
Unlike other sports or activities, you don’t need to buy lots of expensive equipment before hiking, but you should always invest in a top-quality pair of hiking boots. With the right boots in place, a walk of many hours will fly by, so take the time to find some great hiking boots that are lightweight yet strong and durable, as well as fully waterproof. Look for boots that have a good grip on their soles and that provide support to your ankles. Good walking boots are essential for adults and children alike. Do however remember to wear them in and around the house and on short walks before using them for a longer hike.
2. Pack Plentiful Supplies Of Food And Drink
Hiking can be lots of fun, but it can also be tiring, particular to young legs. An hour’s hike can burn off in excess of 400 calories, and over a day’s walk, that can lead to exhaustion if you aren’t replenishing calories en route. That’s why it’s a good idea to carry energy-rich snacks in your backpack such as bananas or chocolate, as well as a packed lunch if you plan on hiking for the full day. It’s even more important to keep hydrated, and children especially can quickly become dehydrated when walking in the sun, even on cooler days. For that reason, it’s essential that everyone on the hike carries a plentiful supply of water.
3. Plan The Route Carefully
One of the most important things when going on a day hike with kids is to plan the route thoroughly in advance, and the key to doing this successfully is to understand their abilities and limitations. Remember that even though they may be full of energy, they won’t have the stamina reserves of an adult, and if you push them too far, they can become tired and irritable, which can rapidly transform a family hike from a joyous occasion into an ordeal. Take note of the topography of the route and avoid larger and more challenging climbs if your children are young. The last thing you’ll want to do is have to carry them home again.
Also, try to plan the route and not get lost – Paul and I had a 4-mile hike in the Lake District turn into a 7-mile one by taking a wrong turn.
4. Put Fun Into The Hike
A family day hike is great fun in itself, and it allows your children to see some of the spectacular sites that nature has to offer which their more sedentary friends may miss out on. To help your kids really love the day, however, it helps to pack in some added fun. You can do that by setting them challenges along the route, such as giving them a list of animals, birds or plants to spot, with a prize for whoever spots most. Another good idea is to bring a game along that you can all play at a scheduled stopping point, perhaps while you enjoy sandwiches and a drink.
The key to a successful family day hike is good preparation. If you plan the route carefully, do all you can to make it as fun as possible, and above all ensure that you all have good and suitable footwear on, then you are almost certain to have a day that will be loved by all the family. With a pair of hiking boots on your feet and adventure in your heart, the world is out there just waiting to be explored.