Friday, October 19, 2007

Top Five Tips for Hiking with Children

Top Five Tips for Hiking with Children
by Melanie Schwear, Jul 8, 2007

It is fun to get out in nature with the family. It provides some quality alone time and a good dose of important exercise. Hiking with your children is a wonderful thing.

Below are five tips on how to have a safe and enjoyable hike with children.

1. Proper Clothing and Shoes
All members of the family should wear proper clothing and shoes on a hike. For short hikes, sneakers or cross-trainers will probably suffice. For longer hikes, however, both adults and children will benefit from properly fitting hiking boots.
When hiking with children, it is important to dress them in comfortable, non-binding or chafing clothing. Children will complain readily if their collar is too tight or their waistband rubs their belly. Long pants thick enough to deter thorns and insects are a must for hiking children.

2. Hiking Sticks for Everyone
Hiking sticks can help with balance and support on tricky hiking trails. When hiking with children, provide hiking sticks that are the right size and weight for them. Hiking sticks can either be found wooden branches that are smooth and sturdy, or man made, purchased varieties. The hiking stick for children should be narrow enough for them to grip and not to heavy.

3. Planning the Route
If a hiking trip is too long, children are apt to complain. Be sure to plan the route before you set out. Either plan to hike in a loop that will take you back to the car or campsites, or hike half the distance out and half back. When hiking with children, it is a great idea to map out the route with them beforehand. They will enjoy following the map and knowing how far they still have to go.

4. Drinks and Snacks
Everyone needs some nourishing drinks and snacks while hiking. The most important thing to carry along when hiking with children is plenty of water. You could also bring sports drink. When hiking with children, it is also a great idea to bring fun snacks that can be carried along. GORP (good old raisins and peanuts), or trail mix is the ultimate hiking snack. Dried fruit, peanut butter crackers, and granola bars are other good choices. Hiking with children takes a lot of energy, and healthy carbohydrates give a burst when you need it.

5. First Aid
When hiking with children, be sure to pack a first aid kit. Of course, adults can also be injured, but small children are more susceptible to cuts and scrapes. A small injury may make a child feel as if they cannot go on. An adult ready with the first aid kit will keep the hiking day more pleasant for children.
Hiking with children is important for physical exercise, appreciation of nature, and family together time. If you want a safe and fun experience, there are certain things you must remember. Staying within the bounds of ability and comfort is important when hiking with children.

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