There’s no denying that a long walk with the kids makes for a memorable day out. Not only is walking completely free, but it’s also a great form of exercise, and can be a brilliant family bonding activity. Long walks in the countryside or parkland can also help to instil a love of the great outdoors in your little explorers.
However, you’ll need to do a little bit of prep work to make sure you have everything you need to keep your kids warm, happy and comfortable during a ramble. We’ve shared five things you should bear in mind before you head out into the wilderness, including tips for planning your walk, and a few techniques to avoid temper tantrums. Just read on to learn more.
Pick the right route for your family
First of all, you’ll need to decide on a route. The perfect walk for your family will depend on a number of factors, such as the age of your kids, and how experienced they are with long walks. For instance, there’s no point expecting a young child to tackle a 5-mile hike over difficult terrain on their first attempt, so set realistic goals and start with shorter routes.
You’ll also want to find a route that keeps kids entertained, so pick one with plenty to see and do. Avoid long, straight walks, and try to find routes with plenty of landmarks, twists and turns. The National Trust has a list of ten of the best walks for families with young children, so take a look and which routes are near you.
Make sure everyone wears plenty of warm layers
Children will need to remove their outer layers as they run around and warm up, so it’s prudent to dress them in several layers, rather than one thick overcoat. This way, you can add and remove clothing as needed.
During colder weather, little ones can be prone to losing their gloves or getting them soggy, so take spares with you. Stock up on some one-size-fits-all styles, like these non-slip magic gloves on Amazon, and anyone can use them. Remember that during the winter months children are likely to get very muddy too, so leave any expensive or delicate clothing at home, and instead opt for clothes that can go straight in the wash.
Ensure everyone wears the right shoes
Sore, blistered and wet feet can quickly turn a fun family day out into a nightmare, so make sure everyone is properly kitted out in some sturdy footwear. You’ll want to pick either wellies, or a pair of high-quality hiking boots, depending on how wet the weather has been (and how likely your children are to jump in muddy puddles).
If family walks are set to become a regularly activity, then it might be worth investing a pair of quality hiking boots. A properly fitted pair will help your children walk longer distances, so pay careful attention to the fit of the shoe: it shouldn’t rub or pinch, but should still fit snugly enough to provide proper support for the foot. Charles Clinkard specialise in children’s footwear with a focus on a great fit, including a choice of stylish and durable boots for boys and girls.
Keep some supplies to hand
Anything could happen during your adventure, so prepare for every eventuality by bringing a few supplies. Peckish children are more prone to temper tantrums, so a few snacks and some water should keep hungry explorers happy and full of energy.
When exploring the wilderness, there’s also a risk of cuts, scratches, and grazed knees, so bring along a few basic first aid items, like plasters and antiseptic wipes. A pocket first-aid kit, like one from this selection of travel kits from Lifesystems, should contain all the essentials, and won’t take up too much space in your bag.
Turn the walk into a fun game to ward off boredom
To stop cries of ‘I’m bored!’ or ‘I’m tired!’ from spoiling your walk (and driving you mad), try turning your outing into a fun game to keep the kids active and entertained.
Instead of telling the kids you’re going for a long walk, tell them you’re going for a scavenger hunt as a family. Write a list of things you’ll come across on your walk, and cross each one off as you pass. You could even set each a special task for each child, like finding pinecones, or spotting certain wildlife. Making the experience into a game will give them something to focus on, and give them the motivation to keep walking when they get tired.
With a bit of planning ahead, you can look forward to a hassle-free walk that the whole family can enjoy. As long as you plan your route in advance, wear comfortable footwear and warm clothes, and bring a few supplies, your family adventure is sure to be a brilliant day out.