Whether your kids are babies or teenagers, it’s always a great age to go camping or for a hike. In fact, it’s both healthy and fun. Getting out in the fresh air and in nature is good for both the body and soul. It’s quality time spent together, memories made, and a fun way to unwind from the fast-paced, plugged-in world. But before you go, make a checklist of these quick tips before camping or hiking with kids. It might save some headaches!
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Ways to prepare for a fun and safe Family Hike
Tuck pants into shoes/socks. This is going to cut down on insect and tick bites. It may not be the most attractive style out there, but that’s not why you’re going on a sweaty hike, right?
Choose a kid-safe homemade tick and bug repellent. Choose to use something that is good for the environment and for your own health. You can even make our own with some essential oils. Just spray down every couple of hours, especially in hot weather due to evaporation.
Spray down kids’ shoes before putting on. I learned this one the hard way! You want to protect the feet, which is the usually point of entry for ticks and other pests. However, young kids are probably not going to want their feet sprayed. So go ahead and do it when they aren’t looking. Maybe even do the inside and socks too for extra good measure.
Do a tick checks Did you know that it takes 12-48 hours before bacteria transmission in most tick borne illnesses? This means, do regular checks when out camping and hiking. brushing them off clothing or quickly getting them off of your skin once they bite reduces your risks of things like Lyme’s Disease.
Spray down any carriers and/or strollers. Don’t forget that spraying is not just for you. It’s also for the things you’re using. So if you’re taking a stroller, spray the bottom areas if it’s a kid-safe product or concoction. Also, if using a kid-pack or soft-structured carrier, spray the tight areas. Those are cozy places for ticks because it’s warm and tight.
Don’t forget snacks… and a trash bag. Exerting any extra energy makes little bodies hungry. Make sure you have lots of healthy snacks to munch on while you’re out on your adventures. But remember, pick up crumbs and don’t leave trash.
Go at their pace. Toddlers are more into to wandering and looking around from about 20 minutes while older kids might go for an hour or two. Know your kids, know their pace, and make sure you have snacks to fuel them.
Lots of Water! And insert camelbak into carrier. If you’re going with young kids, you can actually wear your camelbak water source as a cooling system for you and baby when babywearing if you freeze it the night before. When you wear it between you and baby it will cool you both in hot weather. If you have a Kinderpack, you can even stuff the water pouch it inside of the pocket.
Be prepared for wanderers and injuries. Make sure you have a carrier, stroller, or some way for little kids to ride in case they decide they’re done walking. In fact, if you’re going to do lots of hiking, consider investing in a babywearing wrap. It may sounds silly, but it’s possible to wear even an adult in a woven wrap and in the case of a sprained ankle, that is invaluable and it wasn’t a huge addition to your supplies.
Choose an eco-friendly Sunscreen. This is especially true if you’re going to do any swimming along the way or on your way back. You don’t want to introduce chemicals into a natural habitat, plus it’s safer and healthier for you!
Bring a first aid kit and flashlight. It doesn’t have to be big, just enough. You want to make sure you have the basics if someone gets hurt. Something anti-scpetic to clean wounds, some bandages, some anti-itch, anti-diarrheal (if camping), a headlamp, etc.. Think small, but necessary.
Choose the right shoes. I typically go hiking in my Abeo B. I. O. Delta Sandals with socks on. Again, it’s not a fashion show. I don’t want my feet exposed to thorns and whatever else, but I like my feet to breathe and have the support they need. These sandals are custom to my foot style, which makes hiking so much easier! So choose something with structure and that suits your preferences. (I do not wear socks in wet environments though! You can see the sandals I wear in the babywearing picture two above!)
Pace yourself. Take time to enjoy the surroundings. Nature is not going to vanish out from under you while you’re out in it, so don’t push yourself to get to a certain destination! Enjoy the time with your kids.
Consider a dog pack if taking your pet. This is a great way to bring the things you want and need without having to carry it yourself. Especially if it’s things like dirty tp, diapers, etc..
Wear Appropriate clothing. I keep harping on this, but it’s important, especially for little ones. Wear breathable pants and long sleeves if it’s bearable. In fact, get the zipper pant/shorts. Not stylish, but so handy. Light-weight jackets are also great because if going in the evening, it will keep you warm, but aren’t cumbersome and they are breathable. One time, it was so hot when we left, but SO cold by the time we got back and I was beyond thankful for mine!
Also, consider a hat in the summer. This protects from the sun and ticks. A lot of insects enjoy climbing and falling from trees. And the best protection from the sun is shade because it doesn’t require any extra chemical exposure.
Don’t forget the diapers/toilet paper! You will thank me for not forgetting it. They even sell travel size TP and we have taken it with us several time. But please don’t bury this stuff, even if it’s compostable or biodegradable. Our rule is “if it wasn’t there to start it won’t stay as part”.
Leave no trace. Teach your children to respect nature and not take anything from it. And again, whether it’s food, trash, diapers, toilet paper, or anything else, please make sure you take it with you.
Bring a Fully-Charged hiking GPS or Phone with GPS. This helps know where you are, is a way to get help if needed, and can also help understand terrain and altitude. Elevation can be important for several reasons. One being that some kids may not be able to handle it and another could be if anyone is susceptible to getting sick due to altitude changes.
Take a Bag, but keep it light. And for all the stuff suggested, take a bag. Keep it light and keep it to a dog pack as mentioned if possible. Or sometimes, especially without kids, you can pack the necessities inside of a camelbak. (That’s what we did a lot especially before kids).
HAVE FUN – Take time to identify plants, animals, insects, and animals tracks as you can. Play I Spy, enjoy nature, and relax.
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Kara is an author and advocate for positive, grace-filled parenting. She is homeschooler to her 4 children living in Boston, MA and believes in creative educational approaches to help kids dive deeper into a rich learning experience. She has her degree in Secondary Education & Adolescent Childhood Development and is passionate about connecting with and helping other parents on their journey to raise awesome kids!