Tips for Hiking with Kids (So parents can have a good time too)
Hiking with kids is a great way to spend a family day out and connect with nature. But for some families it can seem a bit daunting. So how do you make hiking with kids fun and enjoyable? Well, if you plan ahead, there are some easy steps you can take to make sure your day hiking with the family is one to remember. So, lace up your hiking boots and check out our best hiking tips for kids below.
Hiking with Kids
We love going on family walks and hikes. There is something about being out in the nature with all the beautiful sounds and smells. Since our kids were young, we have tried to take them walking and hiking with us as much as possible. Some of our favourites here in Victoria are the walks and hikes in the Grampians as there are so many different routes for all ages.
It hasn’t always been easy, we have had our share of whining and complaints. When they were younger it was actually easier, we could strap them in the baby carrier and off we went.
As they got older and started to want to walk everywhere, it got more difficult and we had to learn to be more patient, and choose our trails more carefully.
Top Tips for Hiking with Kids
Below you can find some hiking tips for kids that have helped us along the way. Hiking with kids can be really enjoyable if you plan well, you are organised, and make sure everyone is having fun!
1. Find kid friendly walking/hiking trails
Before kids you could pretty much try any hiking trail you are confident with without too much worry. However, once the little ones arrive you need to be more selective depending on their ages. You can’t expect your toddler or young child to walk an unsteady 10km track without complaining 10 minutes in for example.
If you have young kids find a kid friendly, easy walking trail to start with. Once your little ones get more confident, you can try those a bit more challenging.
2. Wear comfortable clothes and shoes
Comfortable clothes and shoes will mean the world when hiking with kids. While they don’t need proper hiking boots, avoid sandals or hard shoes. A good pair of closed sneakers with grip is perfect. Long pants are a good idea on trails that are unstable or where you can find lots of mosquitos and insects. Make sure to bring a hat if it is warm to avoid sunburn. If you are expecting rain, take a light rain jacket.
3. Prepare for everything
Make sure to bring the essentials such as a 1st aid kit, map, wet wipes, sun cream, lip balm etc. Check the weather and prepare accordingly. If there is chance of rain, bring a light jacket or poncho. If it is going to be hot, don’t forget hats.
4. Keep them fed and hydrated
One of the best hiking tips for kids is to make sure you pack more than enough water and snacks. Your walk or hike may take longer than expected and you will have some whiney kids if you don’t have water or food when they need it.
5. Use a comfortable carrier for little ones
If you have a baby or toddler, make sure your carrier is comfortable. Practice a few times before you head out on a hike so that there are no surprises.
We love the Ergo Baby Carrier if you have a newborn or little one. It is super comfortable and stylish too.
If you have toddlers and young kids, check out the Minimeis backpack carrier if you have older ones not ready to walk long distances.
6. Hike with friends
While it is great to hike as a family, when you hike with kids it is always more fun in a group. If possible, hike in a group where your kids have friends. Nothing motivates kids more than being able to keep up with one another. Also, it helps keep them distracted and there is less chance of complaints.
7. Take in the view from their eyes
Children see the world in a different way to adults. When you hike with kids it is easy to get caught up in worrying about keeping them happy and not complaining. One of the best tips for hiking with kids is to slow down and take in the view from their eyes. Your journey will be much different to one if you were hiking without them, but sometimes it can be more special as you stop to see things you may not usually see.
8. Embrace the dirt… your kids will
The kids will probably get dirty and messy. Embrace it. Don’t stress when they want to touch everything, or jump around in the dirt. If the kids are happy, parents will be happy.
9. Teach kids what to do if they get lost
While you may not have to think about it most of the time, there is always a chance on some tracks that the kids can get lost. You may think they have run ahead, but they may be lost behind. A simple chat before you leave for your walk or hike can make a difference. Tell your kids what they should do if they lose sight of you. Usually the best thing is to stop and stay where they are. For young kids, have them carry a whistle just in case if you think there could be a chance of them getting lost.
10. Make it fun
When you are hiking with kids make it fun! Change the leader every now and again to give everyone a turn at leading the way. Bring along a step tracker so they can count their steps. My kids constantly compete trying to outdo each other on the amount of steps which is great because even when they are tired they are running ahead.
When the kids are getting a little tired and impatient, give them a stick to walk with. It doesn’t need to be a real hiking stick, you can improvise with a large stick you find along the way. They will feel like real hikers this way and may be more motivated to walk.
Hiking Tips for Kids & Families
Hiking with kids isn’t the same as when you hike alone or with other adults. It can be just as fun though, just expect that it will be different. Make sure to give the kids lots of positive reinforcement to keep them motivated. Tell them what a great job they are doing hiking, how well they are doing keeping up with you. They really need to hear it!
Hopefully these hiking with kids tips will help you on your first hike with your own kids. Good luck!