Children remember emotions. They do not care how many stars the hotel on the coast had and what they fed for dinner in the restaurant. A trip in which the children themselves put up a tent, met a brood of hedgehogs in the forest, and then, together with their parents, cooked food on a fire, will be much more vividly remembered. Going on a hike with children means giving them a cool experience of travelling together and captivating them with a healthy lifestyle.
Let’s not dissemble: it’s much easier to go to the movies with your child than to go on a hike for several days. But it is on a hike that you can truly get to know each other: hear childhood dreams and share your own, fly a kite together and make a fire for the first time, see how the eyes of a child who has just caught a frog light up. These emotions and memories will be the foundation of your relationship for years to come.
During the trip, parents and children become members of the same team and solve common tasks: find edible mushrooms, cross the river, make a fire. Children see adults in a new role for them. On a sortie, dad and mom are senior comrades with whom you can have fun and an interesting time. Even a trip to a nearby park can bring a family closer if turned into an adventure.
Preparing for a hike
Even if you go on a hike organized by an experienced tourist club, prepare your children comprehensively and competently on your own.
Study the route of the hike, and familiarize yourself with the climatic and weather conditions of the selected region. Equip yourself and the children according to the expected weather forecast. But even if weather forecasters promise warm, sunny days, be sure to take children’s raincoats and warm clothes.
Carefully make a list of the medicines you need and collect an individual first-aid kit. Each tourist group takes a common first aid kit with them, but no one knows better than you about the health characteristics of each family member. Don’t forget about the camping trap.
If your child has moved from the passenger category to the walker category, then be sure to have a conversation with him about the upcoming trip in order to avoid difficulties. For kids, parents are the most important adults, so they will be especially attentive to what you say. Tell them that hiking is serious, and in extreme conditions, the reaction to the ban should be instantaneous. The main hiking “not allowed” are relevant for all routes and directions: to try fruits, berries and mushrooms without permission; drink water from unverified sources; leave somewhere without warning the parents; kindle a fire on your own; litter.
When to take a child on a hike?
The best time to hike with kids is now, no matter how old or months old the youngest member of the group is. Make a travel plan, taking into account the age and character of the child, then active recreation will be a pleasure for the whole family.
Infants under one year old
Calm and pleasant fellow travelers: they are light, undemanding and sleep two-thirds of the day. The abundance of oxygen turns babies of this age into marmots, awake only during halts. When breastfeeding, you do not have to take extra food with you, and baby things are compact and weigh little. You can carry your baby in a sling or ergo backpack. Please note that for safety, it is better to carry the baby behind your back. A difficult question is diapers on the route. If you take disposables, then be prepared to carry them to the nearest trash can. A convenient and eco-friendly option is to take several pairs of reusable diapers and wash them during parking.
Kids 1-3 years old
With such children it is already more fun and a little more difficult. On the one hand, you need to think about what to cook for lunch, but on the other hand, you can already put him in a comfortable travel backpack. At this age, children are guided in what is happening, they are happy to study the world around them and want to independently walk at least a couple of kilometres of the route. What to take with you for an older baby? I eat according to changing preferences, clothes with a margin, and a couple of favourite toys. The best option for a hike is to set up camp and from there go light on radial walks. Of the minuses: you really need to take a lot of children’s things, and approach the issue of the camp menu inventively.
Preschoolers (4-6 years old)
At this age, kids become brave travellers, explorers and conquerors of peaks. He needs his own backpack and not a long but exciting route. Make a travel plan, taking into account the interests of the young hiker. The main criterion is that it should be interesting on the road and at halts, so do not be too lazy to take a couple of compact road games or a book with wildlife illustrations with you. You can also organize other active games at a halt. At this age, they do not like long monotonous transitions from halt to halt. Therefore, either do not plan a long hike, or come up with an exciting road quest in advance.
Schoolchildren (7 years and older)
These children can be safely taken to the mountains, they are easy and comfortable. with the will to overcome the route of medium duration. Invite two or three peers for the company, come up with hiking contests or games – and a couple of weeks of outdoor activities will be the best part of your summer hiking vacation. Keep a close eye on the noisy and sometimes too active company of children, remember that safety is paramount.
Of course, you will need a backpack for things and additional hiking equipment. For a two-day trek on a route that runs close to home, you will need a backpack with a capacity of 15-20 kg, which will provide enough for things, camping tarp, water and light snacks. The farther you go, the more equipment, clothing, water and food you will need. A backpack with a capacity of about 30 kilograms will be the best choice for long-distance and long routes.
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