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Backpacking with Kids: Making your Family Travel Adventure a Success

Backpacking offers travelers the opportunity to truly engage with nature and witness natural wonders up close and personal. While many may initially think backpacking is too strenuous an activity for younger travelers, in truth the natural stamina of youth makes them ideal backpacking candidates. If you want to make hitting the trail a family affair, keep in mind some simple tips for your outdoor adventure.

  • Select an Exciting Destination – When choosing the perfect place to backpack with your kids, you should focus on selecting something that isn’t excessively physically taxing and offers much for young eyes to wonder at. Look specifically for backpacking trails that offer waterfalls or wilderness beaches, as these watery sites will likely give your children something at which to marvel, making all of the hiking seem worth it.
  • Build their Stamina – Your trip likely won’t be an enjoyable one if you don’t adequately prepare your children physically for the rigors of backpacking. Start talking about the trip well in advance of your intended travel date to get your kids excited. Once they’re amped about the vacation, begin a preparation regimen, taking them on walks of increasing lengths to ensure they have the physical fortitude to handle such a potentially strenuous trip.
  • Acquire Necessary Medical Coverage – If your backpacking adventure will take place outside of the United States, protect yourself and your children by acquiring necessary medical coverage. Many companies offer coverage specifically designed to protect international travelers. By acquiring such a policy, you can protect your children and your pocketbook.
  • Pack Light – When you’re backpacking with kids, you’ll likely end up carrying most of the load. It’s recommended that children 10 and under carry only small daypacks, so you don’t want to overwhelm them. This means your tots likely won’t be able to carry all the supplies they’ll need should you elect to stay in the wilderness overnight. To ensure you don’t have to carry a pack that is excessively heavy to make up for their inability to carry much, take only what you absolutely must have. Also, specifically seek out goods that are lightweight, such as cookware intended for backpacking, to shave off some pounds.
  • Bring a Few Luxuries – Particularly if your children are reluctant backpackers, tucking away a few luxury items can do much to sway them into being fans of outdoor excursions. Stick a small stuffed animal or a few non-melting hard candies in your pack to offer your kids as rewards after they’ve navigated particularly treacherous terrain. These little extras will likely delight them, making the simple items worth carrying with you.
  • Stay Enthusiastic – You’ll be the one to set the tone on your backpacking adventure. If you can remain upbeat and excited, even when your feet are sore and you’re ready for that much-needed break, your children will likely follow suit. Keep in mind that the positivity you exude will be infectious, so do your best to stay cheerful from trip start to finish.

The simple exhilaration that accompanies witnessing the wonders of nature makes backpacking a popular pastime. When next planning a getaway for your family, consider backpacking as a viable option as an educational, affordable and bond-building activity your whole family will enjoy.

Jessica loves traveling and being outdoors. In her free time, she enjoys camping and reading. @jessstark9

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