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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, and play.

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 the day.
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 camping gear.
8. Camp near a lake so you can take a swim and wash out some clothes.
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!


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