Monday, February 16, 2015

Wanderlust and family hikes

We are a hiking family. We love the outdoors and enjoy the time together walking in the woods, along the beach, or beside a river wherever we live or travel. While we lived in Germany, we were lucky enough to live in an area with lots of great trails for hiking. We essentially lived in the midst of the Phalzwald, a state park consisting of a large forest. I strongly believe that hiking is great for even the little ones and you will be amazed how far they can go.

Here are our tips for hiking with kids.

Pack plenty of snacks and water. They will get hungry and will need breaks. So be prepared for a little picnic along the way. If the hike has a turnaround point, this could be the perfect time for people to rest and get some food. Also, as a matter of safety, it is always good to be prepared for a longer stay.
Hiking German castle ruins

Make them walk. If your children no longer fit in a toddler backpack, they can walk. This is a wonderful time to explore and strengthen those little legs. Don’t take that away from them by carrying them everywhere. Our two year old was able to do 3 mile hikes with us. Yes, it was not at a fast pace and we took rests along the way. But that is the point, to do the hike as a family with each one getting to enjoy it.

Hiking in the Smoky Mountains
Smoky Mountain National Park

Have a baby-backpack for non-walkers. But some of your kiddos may not yet walk … or least not very steadily. For them, I highly recommend a child carrier to toss on your back. We had one that also had a compartment for food, diapers, and whatever else you need to survive. It ups the work out for the adult carrying them but allows you all to freely explore and not be limited to stroller friendly areas.

Hiking German Castle ruins
Hiking in Germany

Pick an appropriate length and difficulty. Now, my two year old was able to hike 3 miles, but she did not start off that way. Make sure to pick hikes that fit your family’s ability level. If it is too grueling, you won’t want to go back out there. Then, as your kids get older and stronger, you can increase the distance.

When traveling, I love museums and sightseeing, but it is also valuable to just enjoy the country side. The kids get to burn off some energy, it slows the pace of your vacation, and it is plain ol’ good family time.
Often, my boy would pretend he was a knight fighting his way to the castle ruins that were at the top of the hills. And what is more fun than that?

What are your tips for hiking with kids?  And where are your favorite family hikes?

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