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Hiking is a great way to grow a love for the outdoors for kids and teens, encourage quality family time and give everyone's eyes a break from their screens. Clear autumn and winter days make for the perfect hiking climate. You won't have to put up with sweltering heat and buzzing flies, and the air is pleasantly fresh and cool. Read on for our tips to keep it fun to make your next hike one of many.
While it may be an obvious one, one can't underestimate the importance of comfortable footwear. Hiking shoes are best (ensure you've broken them in if they're new to avoid blisters) but most runners will work. Before your hike, check that their shoes still fit well, that soles are sturdy with enough grip and support and that they're relatively water resistant.
Having each child carry their own backpack not only shares the load but also builds a sense of independence especially with little ones, even if they're just carrying their own drink bottle and snacks. Go for a lightweight style that is ideally waterproof to keep their gear dry.
Things can get toasty quickly as you're hiking and chilly during breaks. Rug the family up in warm yet breathable layers that wick away sweat and can be removed and thrown on at a whim.
In case the weather turns, it's best to be prepared. Checking the forecast beforehand is a must, as are a few handy essentials. Pack water-resistant jackets, a hat for each head, breathable gloves, insert repellant (depending on where and when you go) and sunscreen (for reapplying even on a cloudy day).
We're not talking ipads here but rather gadgets that add to the experience. Drones and cameras (give little ones their own disposable camera to inspire creativity) are perfect for capturing memories made, a binoculars to get a better view of the landscape, a compass for navigation and a bluetooth speaker for everyone to share their favourite tunes.
Food is often a cure of crankiness, so pack plenty of snacks, water and ensure they've had a good, square meal before the trip. While lollies and chocolate will keep spirits high, it's also worth including healthier nibbles like trail mix, filled with nuts, seeds and dried fruit.
It's so important to teach little ones to respect the places we tread and leave nature as we found it. Avoid individually-wrapped snacks to reduce the amount of rubbish you'll need to carry back as well as accidental littering that may occur along the way that impacts the natural floral and fauna.
Accidents happen so a first aid kit for any bumps and scrapes is vital. As a minimum, stock up antiseptic, band-aids, bandages, sticking tape, safety pins, scissors, tweezers, antihistamine, ibuprofen, insect sting treatment, a whistle, a flash light and an emergency blanket.
Staying positive can be trying, especially when energy levels get low or tantrums flare. Lots of encouragement is great but snacks and distractions with the gadgets you've brought can also come in handy.
Hiking is a great activity for both body and mind. If this is your first hike as a family (or if you're still relatively new to the game), start off slow with beginner trails, then build up to longer, harder ones. The goal is for everyone to enjoy themselves and feel accomplished after each trip.
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