Connect as a family and with nature
Hiking is one of the most enjoyable activities you can participate in to bring your family together. It’s also a great way to get your kids connected with the outdoors. As great as it is to jump on a plane and travel to a popular tourist destination, taking long walks together in nature helps form a special bond.
1. Take a camera with you
If you’re someone who loves to cherish family time and reflect back on the memories long after, make sure your camera goes along for the ride to capture those special moments.
If you have a lot of camera gear, prepare a separate pack to carry any special lenses, batteries, filters, tripod etc. This will help protect your gear and will make it easy to access when you need it most.
Take photos of your family munching on their favourite snacks, climbing over rocks, swimming in rock pools, running along the trail ahead, setting up camp, anything that captures your time together. After your hike, rather than storing all your pics on a drive somewhere, consider printing or making a travel album so you and your kids can look back at them at any time.
2. Focus on the journey, not the destination
Focus on the journey rather than focusing on the end of the hike, special viewpoint, or summit. This is a great way to keep kids interested and stop them asking ‘how much further?’
When you slow the pace and keep an eye out for things of interest along on the way, your kids (and you) will gain a better appreciation for the smaller things in nature. It’s amazing how many interesting things you’ll find along the trail when you take your eyes off the end goal.
Look closely at the trees nearby, search for wildflowers along the edge of the trail, stop in a clearing and enjoy the fresh breeze. If you are hiking in warmer weather, take a break under a shady tree. These things may sound simple, but they allow you to truly connect with your surroundings and appreciate the simple beauty of nature. It’ll be a lot more enjoyable for your kids and you’ll all learn new things on the way.
3. Let the kids take the lead with a map
As well as teaching your kids to appreciate and enjoy nature, teaching them valuable hiking skills will give them greater confidence in the outdoors. Carry a map of the trail and let your kids take the lead. This simple act will help them develop leadership and decision-making skills that are vital, not only for their time in nature, but for future life experiences.
If your kids have never seen a map, explain to them what the features are so they can learn to identify contours, summits, valleys and of course, the trail ahead. If you have a few kids with you, break the hike into sections and let them take turns leading and working together. Before setting out on the next section, sit down and discuss the map, give them tips, get them to try and estimate how far, and let them lead the way. You will be amazed how seriously they take this important task and how carefully they focus on where you are going next.
4. Keep energy snacks handy
Kids can burn energy fast as they lack the fat reserves of adults. This can result in loss of motivation and enjoyment. If you hear your kids complaining, arguing, slowing down or lagging behind, stop for a break in a nice shady area or a scenic spot and let them eat. It’s a great idea to take a range of energy bites. These can include dates, dried fruits, bananas, biscuits, berries, granola bars, etc.
Small snacks often will keep their energy level up rather than waiting for a big lunch after they’ve emptied their reserves.
Also, don’t forget to carry plenty of water to keep you and your family hydrated. Avoid taking soft drinks or juices with high sugar content as these may produce a sugar rush that gives a burst of energy then leaves everyone feeling flat.
5. Make the hike fun
Most people like to hike quietly to enjoy the sounds of nature and let others do the same. When hiking with your kids, quiet time is important but it’s also a great opportunity for you to connect and learn more about each other. You don’t always get this time away from other distractions, so when you have it in your hands, make the most of it. Talk about things you see around you, as your kids what special things they have seen and what they liked most about the last section of the trail. If you are stopping for a longer break or overnight, carry a deck of cards or a fun compact game to play. It’s also a great idea to give your kids a camera so they can try making a vlog (video log) to treasure the memories.
6. Choose a hike with interesting features
There’s nothing more boring for kids than walking along a well graded path. It won’t take long before you hear them asking ‘how much further’. When hiking with your family, especially kids, it’s important to keep them interested. Choosing a hike where the terrain is varied with rocks, logs, uneven surfaces, rivers, waterfalls, viewpoints etc. will really add to the adventure and will hold their interest longer.
7. Carry binoculars or a magnifying glass
Whether you’re heading out for a short walk, day hike or overnight adventure, binoculars and a magnifying glass can seriously enhance the experience by helping you get closer to nature. So, don’t forget to take a magnifying glass and binoculars with you. Your kids will love checking out the smaller or more distant things in nature such as tiny fungus or an eagle soaring high above. It’s amazing how intricate nature is when you take a closer look. These two gadgets will make your hike super interesting.
Have a fantastic time together
There are a lot of things you can do to make hiking with your family fun. I hope these hacks make the next adventure with your family positive, enjoyable and memorable. Hiking with your family is a wonderful experience which really helps you to connect as a family and with nature.
Claudia Jeffrey is currently working as editor at Crowd Writer. This is where higher education students can acquire the help of professional essay writers specialising in their field of study. During her free time, she likes to doodle, create wall art, hiking, and practice mindful yoga.