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Preparing for Hikes with Kids

by Erich Martin

Jul 25, 2019

Sergii Kumer | Dreamstime.com

Travel Tips

No matter where you are hiking or who you are hiking with, it is important to be prepared for the challenges of any given hike. For longer hikes, this means bringing water and snacks. When kids are in tow, prepping for a hike changes completely.


Perhaps the most important thing about prepping a hiking trip, for any group of hikers, is selecting a route within the skill level of the entire group that is also interesting enough to keep the group entertained for the duration.


Hikes at low altitudes represent a great place to start. Mountain hikes, while beautiful, can offer too little oxygen for inexperienced hikers. Even experienced hikers who happen to be out of shape should probably refrain from hiking in high altitudes under too strenuous conditions.


As with any activity, the more practiced at something kids are, the more they will be able to handle. Keep young kids active. Instead of parking them in front of the television or with a tablet, encourage them to run around and play with friends when they are old enough. When they can keep up, bring the kids on walks with pets and around the neighborhood. Keeping kids engaged and active on a regular basis will help to prepare them for real hikes.


Children preparing for a hike with walking sticks.

Children preparing for a hike with walking sticks. Photo: Jure Gasparic | Dreamstime.com


If you are less worried about conditioning and more worried about preparing for specific hikes, advice focuses on what kind of equipment is important for kids to bring and for parents to have handy.


No matter where you are planning to hike, if you’re taking kids, make sure you have snacks to last the duration. Even adults get cranky when they are hungry, and, as any parent with small children can affirm, kids are not great at dealing with feelings of hunger or discomfort. Make sure you also pack plenty of water.


There are times when it might be acceptable to let kids dress themselves. For a trip to the mall, it isn’t the end of the world for kids to wear impractical clothes. During a hike, weather-appropriate clothing is more important than almost anywhere else. Dress for the weather, even if the kids want to wear shorts in the winter.


Finally, bug spray and sun block are integral pieces for any hiking excursion. Depending on the season and time of day, bugs can make even the best destinations nearly unbearable, especially for kids. A healthy dose of bug spray and sunblock will keep the ticks and mosquitos away while also keeping the sun at bay.


The key to enjoying any outdoor activity is preparation. Make sure you are fully prepared, and even the most intimidating hikes and routes will feel easy for the whole family.


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