Hiking with kids
Kullen National Park in Skåne, Sweden
Hiking with kids is an amazing experience! Starting hiking with our kids is our best decision ever. Now as they are teenagers or even past that we realize that our roundtrips with a lot of activities have been the perfect way to develop a close relationship to your kids.
We are often asked "How did you make your kids want to go on hikes with you?" The simple answer would be that it was they who asked for it. But how did we get there? Below we give you our 10 best tips on how to start hiking with kids.
Caminho de Vila Sasseti, Sintra, Portugal
10 tips to start
hiking with kids
1. Like to hike yourself
This is the most important tip of all. If you do not like to hike yourself, the kids will notice. On the other hand, if you are into hiking yourself, you have come more than half way.
2. Choose the hike with care
If the hike is booring it will be short. Not everyone is fortunate to live in a National Park surrounded by mountains, streams and reindeers, so sometimes you have to be creative. Also, hiking across an endless field of stones is probably not for anyone to start with.
Kids want to do fun things like climbing up hills, jumping from stone to stone or trying to cross water puddles without getting whet (or trying to get really wet). Can you can find a small hill, large stones to climb on, a little forest nearby? If not, can you bike there or take a bus?
"Learn the kids to see things
around them and listen to
what they discover.
Make it fun together!"
When the kids are older and you plan to go travelling including hikes, start out with day hikes that are not too streneous, walk short distances and gradually increase them in both hight and length.
Try to find special things like a stunning view, a cave, a waterfall or a summit and hike there. Try not be so serious. Learn the kids to see things around them and listen to what they discover. Make it fun together!
3. Start hiking when the kids are young
The habits we learn as a child often last so starting out at early ages makes it easier. Then the kids probably will ask for a walk or a hike when they get older as they have learnt that it makes them feel good.
Go out and discover the nearby parks and hills when the kids are born sitting in a sulky. When they start walking you lower the pace and let them take their time. See what your kid is seeing, bend down on your knees and be there with your child.
"If your kids are older, try to
find "cool" hikes, well-known
and instragram friendly ones."
But what about if your kids now are teenagers, hate walking and definately hate going into the woods and mountains with you? Sorry to say that, but you have a larger challenge.
One way to cope with this is to make round trips with a lot of variation. Try to find "cool" hikes, well-known ones, instagrammable ones and then mix the hikes with a few days in a city or on a beach where there are lots of young people.
View of Half Dome from
Yosemite falls, California USA
4. Realize the journey is half the pleasure
Every hike can be fun depending on what you discover along the road.
For small kid walking in a park or a really tiny forest is an adventure. There are big trees, small trees, ants, stones to climb on, small hidden paths, ants, bumblebees. The saying "The journey is half the pleasure" definately goes with hiking. Give the kids the time to discover! And try to be patient, you are not in a hurry.
A humble bumble bee at home
5. Give the kids teasers
Tell the kids about the hike on the evening before. Prepare them. Tell them where you are you going, how exciting it is going to be and how much you yourself are looking forward to it.
Prepare the kids if the hike will be more streneous than what they have done before. They will probably be even more excited than you are.
6. There is no such thing as bad weather
The weather probably bothers you more than the kids. If you have the right equipment you can walk in almost any weather in most places and that can be an experience in itself.
You might end the hike a little earlier or change it and pass by a mountain hut/restaurant/café and sit in front of a fire sipping hot chocolate.
7. Do not push your kids
Do not push your kids when they get tired. Kids are a lot better in realizing the journey is half the pleasure than most of us target focused adults are. Even if you do not reach for example the summit, the kids might not worry that much about it.
And if it is you yourself that really really want to reach the summit, perhaps you can go there on another day or on another trip?
8. Eat and drink
Most of us aren´t that nice when we are hungry or thirsty and that goes with kids as well. Eating and drinking well and healthy is essential.
The interesting thing about hiking and eating is that you do not get that hungry when walking so you do not have to bring a lot of food. Water, a sandwich or two, some nuts, a bar or a fruit. If you like something extra, bring something rewarding to eat or drink when you reach the goal.
Remember to eat well in the evening though to cope with next day´s hike.
Jotunheimen National Park, Norway
9. Listen to your kids
This is my best advice and my daughter loves hearing it.
Hiking is a great way to get to know each other! When hiking you are focused on the activity, the surroundings and perhaps trying to find the right spot for your next step.
Sometimes you walk silent in your own thoughts, but often you start conversations with the kids that you never would have had (time for) at home. Key is that there is nothing else that is competing with your or your kids attention, like social media.
If you or the kids really feel that you want to share the fantastic nature you are surrounded by with others (I often do!) on Snapshat, Instagram or some other social media, set off an hour after dinner for that and let the hike be - a hike!
Russvattnet, Jotunheimen Natinal Park, Norway
10. Evaluate the hike
To find out what your kids really like, ask them! After a days hike, evaluate the hike with the kids. What did they like the most and the least. What was top 5 for them during the day/days? You will probably be surprised by the answers.
"Evaluate the hike with the kids. You will
probably be surprised by their answers."
Instead of saying that it was that piece of chocolate you brought with you to eat at the summit or even reaching the summt they might anwer that the most exciting thing was that it started to rain and you had to run for shelter. Or that you went the wrong way and saw some really big rocks or lots of reindeers.
Teide National Park, Tenerife, Spain
Some really great hikes for kids
Hiking to Trollsjön is a perfect day hike for kids from about the age of 5-8 years. The hike is 12 kilometres in total (there and back) and windles upwards (400 metres in total) passing by beautiful meadows to a valley - Kärkevagge - with large rocks. Continuing you finally reaches the Trollsjön or Rissájávri as it is called in Sami....
This is a great hike for small kids! It is exciting, brings scenic views of Romsdalen and the little lakes make it fun. The hike is only 1,6 kilometres in total but the ascent and decent is 400 metres so it brings some hiking upwards...
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