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Hiking is one of those activities that is really fun for the whole family. We have several awesome trails around our area and the kids love running around outside, so we're going to try to do that as much as we can while the weather is nice. However, when hiking with kids, things can get a little complicated. The legs of little ones don’t move nearly as fast as adults. If you’re planning a hike with the kids soon, you need to check out these tips.
#1. Plan a kid appropriate hike- Hiking with kids is a little different than hiking by yourself. You’ll want to choose a hike path that is kid appropriate. Kids won’t necessarily last for a long hike, so you will really want to consider the distance you’re walking for your hike. If you find a trail with a destination, that's even better. That gives a goal to reach, like a lighthouse, pond, or a cool abandoned old building.
#2. Bring a backpack carrier- If you have a little one under two, they are most likely not going to be able to hike at your pace. You’ll need a carrier that is super comfortable and that you will be able to balance with your current weight. A backpack carrier is a good solution because the baby or toddler slides right into the backpack carrier and you can be on your way.
#3. Everyone needs a water bottle- When it comes to hiking with kids, everyone will need a water bottle. The heat can take a toll on your bodies and you’ll be glad you have water to keep cool and hydrated. I always pack a water bottle for everyone because then there is no fighting and each person can stay hydrated.
#4. Plan to take your time- Hiking can take a lot of time, especially when you are hiking with kids. One of the best tips I can give you is to take your time hiking. Don’t try and rush the process because it will only backfire on you. Plan to take the whole evening or morning for the hike, you won’t regret it.
#5. Dress your kids appropriately- I have found that dressing my kids in layers always works best for hiking. If you are hiking to a higher elevation, you’ll notice that it gets colder overtime, which is why layers work best. This also works for the opposite problem—when it’s cold in the morning and then warms up as the hike progresses. Layers work wonders!
#6. Don’t be shy about taking breaks- You need to plan on taking breaks when hiking with kids. Kids don’t have the stamina and energy adults do when it comes to hiking in heat or for long periods of time. Make sure you plan to take breaks during the hike. Honestly, it may end up being the adults that need a break more so than the kids.
#7. Pack the essentials- I know I already said about bringing water for everyone, but we also need snacks! With kids, you always need snacks! Pack up a baggie of their favorite trail mix or cereal for a perfect on-the-go snack. When you take your breaks, grab a few bites to keep them going. I would also suggest packing a variety of snacks if you'll be going on a longer hike. You know how quick kids can change their mind on their preferences.
Another one of my essentials these days is Clear Eyes® Pure Relief™. There are two different varieties available: Dry Eyes and Multi-Symptom. I opt for Multi-Symptom, which relieves red, burning, itchy, dry, irritated, gritty, or watery eyes. Each bottle has over 220 drops and contains a patented built-in purifying filter that keeps out bacteria, so there is no need for preservatives.
Not worrying about my itchy, irritated eyes means that I can spend more time running around outside with my favorite little boys!
While you may not pack a first aid kit for yourself (I still would though), you really need one when hiking with kids. They have a tendency to run around (leading to cuts and scrapes) and pick things up (leading to splinters or cuts). I'd rather be prepared for anything than have a kid freak out about the lack of a bandage.
If your hike will lead you to the water, you may want to bring an extra pair of shorts because the kids will definitely want to wade in the water. I toss everything in a backpack, which is super easy to carry with us on the go.
#8. Schedule a rest period for after the hike- Your kids won’t probably make it a mile down the road before they fall asleep in the car. However, you should still plan for your kids to rest a while after the hike. In fact, you may want to schedule a rest period for the sake of yourself. Hiking is hard enough, but when you do it with kids, you’re guaranteed to be more tired.
#9. Baths at home- When you get home, make sure you give the kids a good bath. This is not your typical bubbles and fun bath though, the goal of this strip down is to check for bugs. I know where we live in Maryland, ticks are a real problem. They like moist, humid places, like armpits and where underwear usually covers. To try to avoid ticks, you can walk in the middle of the path, but we all know that's not going to happen with kids. This is also a good time to check over any scrapes or bites the kids may have gotten on your hike.
Hiking with your kids is a great experience for everyone involved. What tips would you add to this list?