When you have four kids (two of whom are under 4), excuses to not get outdoors abound. Excuses for not enjoying more involved experiences like backpacking are even easier to find. So, why not check out some tips that we live by for turning your backpacking, baby wearing experiences into a lot of fun? And then, why don’t you enter to win your own Onya Outback carrier?
A big reason why we keep up with The Outdoor Adventure . net is because we know how challenging it can be to get outdoors, especially with little ones. Just as important, is how much fun and how healthy it is for the family to get out and play in the outdoors.
Here are some tips to making your backpacking and hiking trips possible (and fun) with toddlers.
- Take a baby carrier – Most baby carriers that are worn on the front can be used with a backpack on the back. Even if they start off walking, 1-4 year olds will get tired and sometimes need to be carried. Tired legs don’t have to get in the way of a family adventure!
- Choose adventure over distance – Sure, adults can hike all day and so can some kids, but for children, It’s all about the adventure. Stop and examine that slow moving bug. Examine the leaves on the tree. 20 years from now they won’t remember how far you travelled, they’ll remember the adventure.
- Take lots of breaks – Never underestimate the benefit of a 15 minute break. Stopping the official hike to explore, eat, or drink does wonders for young kids. This is especially important for kids in front carriers. Letting them down to snack may not be necessary, but allowing them to wander around or just to scrabble in the dirt can make a huge difference in how much fun they’re having.
- Hydrate and protect –Kids burn through a lot of water, especially on hot days. Make sure their heads and skin is protected from the sun and stop regularly so they can hydrate. Proper hydration helps regulate body temperature and can make a huge difference in their attitude.
- Snack, Snack and Snack again – When kids get tired and start grumbling, it’s often because they’re running low on energy. Whenever you take a break, pull out a snack. It can do wonders for their motivation and mood. We like to carry a variety of high energy foods and let them choose what they want. When hiking, we don’t bother taking a lunch break, opting for more frequent, but smaller snack-breaks.
- Check the weather – I love to hike rain or shine, but if the weather report looks bad we’ll make a call. Will rain gear make it fun? or is it better to move the trip to another weekend or another location? It’s fun to talk about how you weathered out that monsoon, but the kids probably won’t want to go on another one of dad’s “adventures”.
- Be Prepared – It doesn’t matter if you’re in the back country or in the front yard, kids are kids and there are unknowns. Prepare for the weather, prepare for an emergency, prepare for an unexpected overnight. Even when hiking the local trails, we always carry a first aid kit, basic survival gear and a GPS beacon. I even recommend a first aid or wilderness first aid course. I’ve found it incredibly useful in the front country (and back yard too!)
- Focus on kids – Every time we go out, we remind ourselves that this isn’t about speed, distance or even destination, it’s about planting the seeds of outdoor adventure. These journeys are about discovery, strengthening family bonds, making them comfortable in the outdoors and instilling the spirit of adventure. Resist the urge to push on to the goal if the kids are truly tuckered out. Take a break, make the most of where you are, take photos and then head home.
- Start small – You don’t need to spend a week out in the woods… to start. Why not begin with an afternoon stroll and work your way forward? Before you know it, the kids will be pushing you out the door for weekend adventures.
We’d love to hear your questions and tips about taking kids out on adventures. Please leave your questions and/or comments below.
Interested in getting your own Onya Outback or Onya Nexstep? Enter the “For the Dads: Keep ‘em Close and Carry On” Giveaway using the widget below.