Backpacking with Kids
To some people, the wilderness is a home away from home.
This belief includes backpacking and taking part in nature.
Backpacking is an inexpensive and fun way for families and
friends to escape from cars and city life. Backpacking takes
little time to plan and can be a great all-day adventure.
Your body may be sore after trekking through the woods,
but your soul and mind will be at peace. Children love taking
part in nature with all the different sights and sounds
and smells they are extremely curious about. Parents can
relish spending a relaxing time with their kids knowing
the children will sleep well that night. And years later,
parents and children can laugh and reflect on all the wonderful
times they had in the woods.
While staying in a hotel or cabin for a night can be quite
costly, backpacking for a day then making a campsite can
be fairly cheap. Although backpacking takes a little work,
it's time well spent. Children will love being a part of
planning the trip and helping their parents along the way.
You should first find out what areas are best to backpack
and if camping (if you choose to do so) is permitted.
Pack as lightly as possible. Don't over-burden yourself
with too many clothes. You'll probably start out wearing
shorts and a t-shirt, so bring along a pair of pants, sweater,
light jacket, a pair of underwear, and a pair of socks and
shoes. Nothing too bulky or heavy. Cotton or linen are the
best fabrics to wear in the heat. Don't forget a swimsuit
if you'll be near water.
Try to backpack fairly close to home. Sitting in a car too
long will bore you and the kids. And you want to start out
early in the day to ensure plenty of time to travel, rest,
Make sure to bring the kids' favorite foods. They will
need some comforts from home and you want them to fully
enjoy themselves on the trip. Pack a lot of food that doesn't
require refrigeration and is light-weight like bread and
trail mix. On the trip, it's best to eat small portions
at frequent intervals to avoid stomach aches. And unless
you want to treat the water you'll use for cooking and drinking,
bring a few jugs of bottled water.
Pack a few toys and try to think about some stories to
tell on the walk. Also, don't forget the sun lotion, hat
and sunglasses. A small medical kit will also be helpful.
If you're planning on camping over, bring light-weight
camping gear. A tarp can be placed over a tent in case of
rain and to provide shade. And camp close to a lake so you
and the children can take a swim after a long day of walking.
Wear comfortable hiking boots which fit over the ankle.
Make sure to double-knot the laces to avoid tripping. If
the shoes aren't water-resistant, bring a pair of rain boots
with good bottom grips. If you have a problem with corns
or blisters pack some Band-aids.
Along the walk, take numerous breaks to rest and eat. Don't
push yourself too hard and don't force young children to
walk many miles in a day. In fact, it's best to backpack
when children are very young and can travel on your back
or when they're older and are beyond the stage of needing
a nap during the day. However, backpacking is a fun thing
for anyone at any age.
Tips to keep in mind:
1. Find out what areas are the best to backpack and camp.
2. Pack light; a few extra clothes are all you'll need.
3. Don't travel too far from home and start out early in
4. Pack kids' favorite foods; bring food that isn't heavy
and doesn't require refrigeration.
5. Bottled water or water treatment tablets will work for
cooking and drinking.
6. Pack toys, maps and the essentials like sun lotion, sunglasses,
and a medical kit.
7. Bring a tarp to put over the tent and other light-weight
8. Camp near a lake so you can take a swim and wash out
9. Wear hiking boots which fit over your ankle; bring rain
boots just in case, and extra socks.
10. Give yourself plenty of time to take in the view and
rest when you need it. Don't forget the camera!