Get your kids away from their screens and out enjoying the wilderness. Hiking is an excellent way for children to enjoy the great outdoors. It gets both you and 6 Tips for Hiking with Your Kidsyour children active and out in the fresh air.
Your children can make great hiking partners. But there are some things you need to consider. Thinking about their safety and comfort as well as enjoyment is essential. Follow these six – 6 tips for hiking with your kids.
Research the hiking trails
Information is now readily available on the wide range of hikes available around the world.
A beautiful town of Queenstown in New Zealand is renowned for its extraordinary scenery, making it the perfect place for hiking. A quick search on the hikes in Queenstown will give you an array of information. Research distance, approximate completion time and difficulty. Use this to help you choose the right hike for your kids.
Consider your children’s ages and fitness levels. Choose a hike with several viewpoints and sights. Treks that combine views of tussock, open plains and rivers will keep your children engaged for the duration of the walk.
Take a break
Remember to take regular breaks. Short breaks will give your kids (and yourself) time to rest and recuperate.
Enjoy a light snack as you take the time to enjoy the views. Great hiking snacks include fruit, club sandwiches and muesli bars. Making snack balls can also be a fun pre-hike activity. Roll various grains, dates, coconut, and cocoa into bite-sized balls.
Take a short rest every 15 minutes. Eating or sitting down isn’t the only way to take a break. A break could also involve stopping for a photo opportunity, viewing from a lookout point, or admiring the wildlife.
Generally, earlier is always better when it comes to hiking. Beat the heat and the crowds by starting early.
This is especially important when hiking with kids. Children tend to get tired and irritable in the afternoon. Hiking after a nutritious breakfast is not only a great way to start the day, but it is also the best time for children.
Give your children roles
Children love having responsibilities. This makes them feel more grown-up, important and in control.
Delegate the role of leadership to your child. Let them lead the pack and choose which direction to take at a crossroads. Other great roles for your children include being a bird spotter, music chooser or snack keeper. If your child is old enough, you could even pass them a camera or a phone to take photos.
Spend quality family time on your hike. Have conversations with your kids, ask them to tell you stories and play games with them as you walk. Games will divert their attention, especially if your kids are becoming disinterested with the walk.
Guessing games are always popular with children. Get them to guess how many stairs they will have to climb, then count out loud when they reach them. Ask your children to guess how many birds they will see or the colour of the flowers.
One thing you cannot control is the weather so prepare yourself for all seasons. Things can change in an instant.
Bring plenty of sunscreen and a hat to prepare for the warmer weather. Bring your child their rain jacket and a change of long pants to prepare for colder weather. Stay hydrated with plenty of water – even during the winter months.
Mosquito repellent is an absolute must, especially when hiking through a forest or near a body of water. It also pays to bring a travel-sized first aid kit for potential bumps or scratches. For younger children, keeping them occupied with a small toy may help when they start to become restless or disinterested.
Share your love of hiking while teaching future generations the importance of sustaining the beautiful world we live in. Trial the different ways to make hiking enjoyable for your children and make memories together to be treasured for years to come.
Freelance writer Johanna Cider lives in the beautiful North Island city of Wellington, New Zealand. An advocate for sustainable living, she loves writing articles on this topic for various blogs and local sites that support innovative green ideas.