Although the great outdoors is always calling, some people are put off by the thought of rugged terrain and a long hike when they have kids. this is understandable, being a parent not only makes certain activities more difficult, but parental protection can kick in. Still, this does not mean a family cannot go on a hike, but there are certain things to remember and ways to make it safer.
We’re going to take a look at how safe it is to hike with children, and what can be done to ensure it is an enjoyable experience for all.
So, Is It Safe?
Any trail comes with its dangers, but with a few sensible decisions, it can be a safe place for people of all ages. A lot of what makes hiking with kids safe is down to preparation, and a conversation about safety. Before you set off on your next family adventure, here are a few ways to ensure that your kids and the rest of the party stay safe.
Ways To Stay Safe When Hiking With Kids
Be Sure To Share Your Trip Details
This goes for any time you are looking to hike, even as part of a group it is a good idea to let someone know where you are intending to go before you leave. This can be someone who lives by or just anyone you trust to raise the alarm should you not return at a certain time. Mark your route on a map so it is easy to find you and if there is one, sign the register on the trail.
Choose A Fun Route
This can be one that has different terrain and streams to splash in halfway round but anywhere that is not too samey will be much more fun for a little one. Easy rocks for them to climb safely can help mix it up and things like bridges can also be exciting for young minds.
Choose A Comfortable Route
There is little point to choose a hike that involves a 7-hour round trip if your kid is not going to last an hour. Even when carrying a child, it soon takes its toll after a while. This is why it is a good idea to go for a hike that is a comfortable distance, even when taking it in turns to carry the little ones. Think about how you are going to feel 2 hours into a trip when faced with another 2 hours of getting back carrying a preschooler or older.
Make It Easier
A little prep goes a long way on a hike with kids, and by taking a foldable stroller or a child carrying strap, the whole trip is going to be a walk in the park. These are ideal for younger kids in particular and means they can hop in and out of the hike when it suits. Look for products that are built for all terrains and are lightweight as it’s likely to be you that has to push or carry it.
Take More Food and Drink Than You Think
Although no one likes to think of the worst, it is easy to get lost on a lot of trails. Because of this, it is always a good idea to take more supplies than you think you need. Water, in particular, is important, but take a few snacks that they like for an energy boost when things get tiring.
Prepare For The Weather
Check over the weather forecast, and prepare for any eventualities. Make sure any child has a high factor sunscreen and a hat with good coverage. On the flip side, no child likes to walk when wet so be sure to take adequate waterproofs and spare clothes should they have an accident at any time.
Get Them Involved
Anytime is going to be more fun, the more involved a child is. This means giving them the map, letting them choose which way to go, or just explaining how to read the signs for the trek ahead. If this isn’t enough, make it fun for them by turning it into an adventure involving pirates, or something from their favorite show.
Kids get distracted at the best of times, and this can mean a hike that might usually take an hour takes double. If the kid wants to stop to take a closer look at something they find interesting, let them. A funny-looking tree, an animal, a large boulder, and the likes can all be a point of interest to a young mind. Let them explore, get involved, and don’t worry about how long it takes.
Although kids will stop and take pause, they are also known to run ahead and take the lead. This can be fine if you know the trail to be simple and safe, but if you are unfamiliar with it, or there is a steep drop, be mindful. Don’t let a child go out of sight as it can be impossible to tell what is around the corner.
If you are worried about your curious child, make sure they are dressed in bright colors so they are easier to spot, and this can be useful in an emergency as well.
Hike With Friends
Enjoying a trail with another family is not just a good company for you, but your child. The chances are that they will cover more ground without needing to be carried when they are distracted and having fun with a friend. Try and go with a family that has kids of a similar age or hiking experience. It might be worse having to head back early because theirs isn’t having fun 30 minutes in. Taking the family dog is also a great idea in this respect.
Use Your Imagination
We already mentioned turning the hike into a game but don’t forget to laugh, be silly, chase one another when its safe, smile, make things out of objects that you find, take your time and make sure these are good memories that last forever. There’s also nothing wrong with taking plenty of pictures, especially when the scenery makes it worthwhile.