It’s important that kids have time outdoors, otherwise, they won’t outgrow not wanting to step outside the home to brave the world. As such, taking your kids on a backpacking trip is a fun activity, but there are also plenty of learning experiences and room for personal growth too.
By sharing interesting places with your children, they learn to enjoy special outdoor locations, perhaps a bit of history about how places were formed, and to appreciate wildlife too.
Here are some tips for taking your kids on a backpacking trip with you.
Start small – Look for ways to create mini-adventures with short half-day trips within your local area. That could be to visit a lake and take a picnic, or to see some sights. This helps acclimatize them to the idea of travel and wearing a backpack at least a little bit of the time.
The Younger, the Better – Once your kids are 6 or older, then it’s much easier to travel with them. Getting them accustomed to traveling at a younger age means it will become second nature after a while. This makes future, longer backpacking trips easier to achieve.
Plan Together – Include your kids in some aspects of the planning. For instance, pick out two camping grounds or locations to travel to that you’ve already approved. Then give them the choice of which one to visit. Give them a few facts, pictures and videos to view on their phone or tablet. This gives them the feeling of being more in control even when it’s taking them out of their comfort zone.
Check What’s Allowed – If you’re choosing to camp out, then some areas won’t allow campfires due to permanent or short-term restrictions. Advise them in advance about maybe not being able to have a campfire and making s’mores.
When you go camping or just backpacking with the wrong gear, it can ruin the trip. You’ll be uncomfortable and everyone will have a lousy time.
The first thing you need is to pick up the best sleeping bag for backpacking trips. Get the right size sleeping bag for everyone going on the trip. Make sure your tent is rated for the season and is large enough to accommodate everyone too.
If your child will be carrying a backpack, pick carefully for them. A child will pick the pack that looks cool; the parent needs to pick an appropriately sized one. Bear in mind that they’ll only be carrying essential supplies for themselves – you’ll be carrying the motherload – so they don’t need to be that robust. Comfort is most important because otherwise they’ll probably refuse to wear it.
Forget the idea that it’s a trekking trip or that you’ll be taking long nature walks. Your child or children will have different physical capabilities. Their little legs won’t cover the terrain well or the distance that you can do. It will quickly get arduous and not fun for them.
Instead, focus your activities on what they will find interesting or fun. Then accept that when they’ve had enough because they’re tired out or starting to get irritable, it’s time to head back. They don’t realize when they’re tired before it happens, so you have to be the parent in that situation even if they moan that they don’t want to return yet.
Preparing well and then expecting the unexpected is the right approach to a backpacking trip with your kids. Away from what they know and are comfortable with, they’re out of their element. It’s up to you to manage them carefully to ensure a happy trip for everyone involved.