I am so happy to share this guest post with you by friend and fellow-author, Jeanine Silversmith.
Her new book, The Rhode Island Family Hiking Guide and Journal is now available and is the perfect and one-of-a-kind resource for hiking in Rhode Island with family of all ages and abilities.
Wherever you’re taking a hike, use these 5 tips for hiking with kids.
Guest Post by Jeanine Silversmith
Hiking is an easy, usually free, way for you and your family to have fun while enhancing your health and well-being. Research shows that unstructured play and interaction with the natural world are important for healthy development in children as well as the physical, mental, and emotional health of both children and adults. Time in nature provides opportunity for physical activity, critical and creative thinking, personal interaction, and so much more.
Here are a few things to keep in mind if you’re hitting the trails with children.
1. Be prepared
Before heading out, take some time to plan and prepare your family for your adventure.
Check the distance, terrain, and other information about your hike to determine if the trail is appropriate for each person in your group. When hiking with kids, involve them in picking the spot and get them excited about it.
Wear appropriate shoes such as hiking boots or sneakers and dress in layers of weather appropriate clothing (e.g. absorbent synthetics, fleece, waterproof jackets). Protect yourself from tick bites by using a repellent that contains Permethrin on your clothes and wearing long, light colored pants tucked into long, white socks.
Eat a satisfying and nutritious meal before heading out to prevent fatigue and irritability. Don’t underestimate how many calories your kids will need on the trail. I’m constantly amazed at how much my own children eat while and after we hike.
Bring a first aid kit, watch, fully charged cell phone, and plenty of water. Pack snacks that your kids really love. You can even come up with your own family GORP (“good old raisins and peanuts”) recipe using chocolate-covered raisins, dried fruit, M&Ms, nuts, butterscotch chips, etc. And make certain everyone has their own whistle, which can be heard farther away than a person’s voice, and takes less energy to use in the event of an emergency.
2. Hike smart
During the hike, keep everyone safe, motivated, and happy along the way.
Kids are usually much more likely to follow rules that they’ve had a hand in setting. So before you start, work together to set behavioral expectations. My golden rule of hiking, which we repeat at the start of each and every outing, is