Tags: hiking with kids, Richard Wiese, family travel, traveling with twins, great hikes with kids, born to explore, places to hike with kids
Hiking is one of the best things you can do with your family—no matter how young or old the kids, no matter how many there are. Not only is it healthy to get out in the fresh air and exercise, but it gives you a chance to have serious quality time as a family. Best of all? It’s one of the cheapest things you can do AND you can hike almost anywhere you go.
Below, Richard Wiese (pictured here with his wife, Nicci Young, and their 3 children), host of adventure travel TV series Born to Explore, has shared some of his tried-and-true tips for hiking with kids.
Know your limits. Carrying around a 25-pound toddler and a bit of gear can exhaust even a fit person. Do yourself a huge favor and keep something in reserve (translation: don’t push yourself to your limit). You may find you need the energy to deal with anything that might come along, such as getting lost or dealing with a meltdown.
Keep it simple and keep it short. Traveling with babies or toddlers is not the time to bushwhack or head off the beaten trail.
Take frequent breaks. Remove your packs, drink water, skip rocks. Give kids plenty of time to play in the great outdoors.
Hike light. Loading your minivan for every possible situation with gear is one thing but since you will be lugging it on your back, keep it to the necessities like a spare diaper ( and plastic bag to put it in), sunscreen, water and baby bottles (plastic are lighter than glass). I like using lightweight carabineers to clip things onto my pack.
Dress smartly. In all likelihood, if you are using a Baby Bjorn or backpack you are going to sweat. I prefer wool as it can dry on you and has the ability to stay warm when wet. Cotton is my last choice as once it gets wet, it stays wet and can make you dangerously cold. In cooler weather, always be sure to cover the little one's extremes. Of course, you’ll also want to be wearing sturdy hiking boots and if there’s a chance of rain, by all means, pack a lightweight rain poncho.
The more the merrier. Don’t leave the older kids behind. Get the whole gang out on the trail. And if you have friends that want to join you, merge forces! Kids love hiking with other kids.
Make older children part of the planning process. I used to hike up giant sand dunes with my nephews when they were 3 and 4 and to this day they will swear they climbed Mt .Everest. Everything was an”expedition”. The little ones get to look up to the big kids and big kids get to show off their “skills.”
Be flexible. Be prepared to shorten a trip. Things like bad weather or buggy terrain might necessitate a plan B.
Get dirty. Surrender to the Zen of dirt as you are outside and everything is dirty ( but usually good dirt).
Take along drinks and snacks. Nuts, fruit (dried and fresh), sandwiches, cookies and other goodies are important to have on hand. Just avoid things that melt or are easily squished to smithereens!
Make it a voyage of discovery. Kids are interested in the smallest things, so while a pine cone or a shell might seem mundane, these little keepsakes can make a big impression.
Take pictures. You’ll not regret taking a camera along. Shoot close-ups of the kids as well as scenery, signs, etc.
Have fun. Sing songs, count trees and howl at the moon.
Photos: Courtesy of Richard Wiese, Born to Explore.