Backpacking is the perfect platform for escaping the hustle and bustle of day-to-day life to unwind and relax in nature. But once kids come into the picture, your weekend treks may be put on the back-burner for a while … But they don’t have to be.
With a little know-how and some careful planning, you can enjoy the wonders of nature alongside your kiddos. Here, we’ve rounded up seven tips for an enjoyable family getaway in the backcountry.
Pick an Easy Trail
Your kids may be old pros when it comes to day hikes, but add in a heavy pack, an overnight stay, and going potty in the woods and things just got a lot more complicated.
Before trying to tackle the John Muir trail, pick a short trail with little elevation gain for your first go. It’s key to make the experience a positive one, so you don’t want to overdo it right out of the gates. As your kids become more experienced, you can slowly work your way up to longer and more difficult hikes.
Bring Plenty of Snacks
Obviously pack space is going to be a limiting factor when it comes to food. But when backpacking with kids it’s better to be safe than sorry with too many snacks (as opposed to not enough).
Backpacking makes you hungry, plain and simple. And when you stand under the five-foot mark, it makes you even hungrier. Pack some hearty snacks as well as some sweet treats that can be used as motivation during more difficult parts of your journey.
On a trip with friends you might throw caution to the wind and just “wing it.” But when you’re bringing the little tykes along you’ll definitely want to have things mapped out.
Make sure you acquire all the proper permits ahead of time. Carefully plan out your meals and snacks so no one gets “hangry” along the way. Have your route mapped out and pick out good resting places as well as where you’ll make camp for the night.
Also, take into consideration how long the hikes will take you and how you’ll fill your down time. Involve your kids in the planning process so they know what to expect and learn the behind the scenes of planning an epic trip.
While it’s important to have a plan, it’s equally as important to be flexible. It’s extremely likely that not everything will go according to plan, so it’s important that you understand that that’s okay.
It's great to set goals but it’s also fine to mix things up along the way. Keep an open mind and remember the most important thing is to have fun.
Play Trail Games
To some people, hiking can be boring. Sure, you appreciate the beauty of nature and placing one foot in front of the other, but after awhile, your kids might not. Keep some fun trail games in your back pocket for when the complaining and/or boredom sets it.
Some good ones are I Spy, 20 Questions, Trail Bingo, Scavenger Hunt, or get creative and invent a trail game unique to your family.
Maybe you’ll have the next David Attenborough on your hands and won’t need to play games but it never hurts to have them ready, just in case.
Make Simple Meals
You may typically like to have mini Master Chef competitions during your backcountry cookouts, but with the kids in tow you’ll want to keep it simple.
Do the majority of the prep work at home or buy freeze-dried meals if you want to keep it really easy. Make the experience a learning process and teach the kids how to light a stove and have them help with some of the simpler steps.
You may think your kids can hold their own but the reality of the situation is you’ll probably end up carrying most of the gear.
Leave the non-essentials at home and just bring the basics. The basics, as well as the toy or stuffed animal your kid can’t leave home without. Start with short trips that don’t require too much gear and slowly work your way to longer trips.
More Hiking Content From ASN