Family hikes are wonderful ways to make some treasured memories that you can share forever. Hiking allows you to explore places you have never been to or revisit favourite haunts. Even if you hike in a place that is familiar, you may learn something about it that you never knew before. Hikes also present opportunities to teach kids about nature and about respect for the Earth.
Despite all these benefits, a hike with kids can be a challenge, both the planning and the trip itself. Here are some important things to think about beforehand to make the trip fun for everyone.
Decide How Long Your Hike Will Be
Are you planning an overnight hike or just a day trip? If the latter, how long will your hike be? Whether you are planning in terms of the length of time that the hike takes or the number of miles you will cover, it shouldn't be any longer than your children can handle. You know your kids best and can make the determination based on their ages and activity levels. Just bear in mind that, unless you are taking a circuitous route that brings you back to where you started, you have to factor the walk back when deciding how long your hike should be.
Dress Appropriately for the Weather
Hiking is a wonderful activity for all times of the year. Autumn leaves and snow can transform a spot that your family has only visited during spring and summer, so you shouldn't let colder weather deter you from a family hiking trip. However, you should be sure that everyone is dressed appropriately for the conditions. That means several layers of warm, breathable clothing; a waterproof jacket or coat; gloves or mittens; boots with traction; and perhaps a junior face mask. All of these work together to help prevent frostbite or hypothermia. A face mask is especially helpful for preventing windburn in the cold and sunburn at all times of the year. Depending on the type, it may also be versatile enough to use as a headband or scarf, as needed.
Guard Against Bugs
The woods and wild areas are home to thousands of different kinds of bugs, which are typically most active during warm weather. Most of these are fairly innocuous, but others make nuisances of themselves by biting or stinging. Perhaps your best defence against bugs is insect repellent. There are many different varieties of repellent available, some that contain chemicals such as DEET and others which are made of organic ingredients. Both can be very effective.
However, don't underestimate the bug protection you can get from your clothing. Covering up as much as possible by wearing long sleeves and long pants can afford you and your family some protection from insect bites. A face mask may provide some protection as well, especially if you don't want to use repellent near your eyes and mouth.
Play Trail Games
For kids, the novelty of hiking may wear off quickly, and they may get bored. There are some creative ways that you can keep them interested in the hike. Trail games add an element of fun and engage children by giving them a concrete objective to accomplish.
There are games that you can play anywhere, such as 20 questions or Categories. However, it may be even more fun if the game relates directly to the hike. For example, you could create a scavenger hunt or a Bingo game consisting of things that you are likely to find out on the trail. As an added bonus, many game options have an educational element to them. Games should be age-appropriate.
Preparation Is Key
You should be sure that you have everything you need before your hike before setting out. If you don't already have a versatile junior face mask in a size that fits your child, you can find this as well as other clothing and accessories for outdoor activities from Fast Mask.