Leaving the safety of civilisation behind to get a taste of the wilderness, living out of a backpack and getting back in touch with nature is something everyone should experience once in a while, including children. Hiking, mountain climbing, bushwalking or anything else that you may prefer to call it, it’s wonderful activity for kids for a number of reasons.
How does it help?
It makes little sense to keep telling your kids to get outside and get some exercise if you don’t make sure that the outside is a familiar place to them. Experiencing the great outdoors helps children learn to use their motor skills and all their senses in ways that just wouldn’t be possible with a regular urban life. Once a child learns to use his whole body, there will usually be no turning back.
It won’t do to simply take a walk in the park, though (because it would be, for obvious reasons, a walk in the park). Only a backpacking trip in the wilderness would be immersive enough. Before you go, though, you need to plan. Backpacking with grown-ups can be complicated enough. Adding kids to the mix brings in a few new elements that you need to plan for.
Prepare with your kids
There are plenty of checklists online that you can use to make sure that you pack everything you need without adding too much weight. The important part, though, is making sure that you involve your kids in the entire planning process.
Kids don’t usually see the same things to admire in a forest or mountain hike that grown-ups do. They don’t tend to care about fresh air or beautiful vistas, for instance. Instead, they do tend to care about seeing interesting animals, pretty flowers and flowing water, and hearing interesting sounds. You need to find places and hiking routes that will give your children all of these.
Plan to make the trip tolerable
It’s usually a good idea to plan short hikes each day until you’re sure that your kids are really going to participate. If they decide that they are not interested, they could simply refuse to move, in which case, you’ll be forced to carry them. It should be a good idea to take a large vehicle like a Chrysler minivan, and pack it full of entertainment that your kids can have fun with when they need a break from it all.
There are number of other little tricks that you can use to make sure that things stay interesting for your kids. Your child shouldn’t have a real load to carry. They can have their own water and snacks in their backpack, though; kids love such self-sufficiency.
Plan to make it educational
You should read up ahead of time, sand tock up on the right field guide apps to make sure that you can tell your kids all about the nature that they see around. You can teach them navigation, about reading a map, and even about the environment. Children tend to be very interested as long as you give everything to them in little bites that they can handle.
About The Guest Blogger
Leona Vandusen has been an avid traveller since her round the world trip aged 18. Now a Mom of 2 kids she still enjoys the thrill of travel whether that’s a day trip to the city, or a vacation to Africa! She blogs for parenting and travel sites sharing her experiences.