Saturday, December 22, 2012

'Hiking with kids? You’ve got to be kidding!' No, we're serious!

There are plenty of reasons to hike with children.
Listing excuses of why not to hike with children is easy enough: Kids wouldn’t enjoy it, I don’t know where there’s a trail, it takes too much time, I’m out of shape, it’s too expensive.

Unfortunately, the suggestion of taking children hiking tends to elicit from long-time hikers one of two reactions: They either say it’s impossible or they overestimate the abilities of their kids. The first group sadly misses out on a wonderful family experience and gives up a great pastime. The second group creates a hellish experience for themselves and their children and often come to think the first group is right. It is true that with children you’ll probably not hike as you did before, but you still can have an enjoyable time on the trails.

The novice hiker who takes along children always hits the trails with good intent: It’s a great way to spend time with the kids, it’ll be good exercise, it’s something their own parents did with them so a tradition they want to carry on. Unfortunately, novice hikers usually misjudge their abilities and fail to prepare. Especially when kids are involved, that can lead to bad experiences, injury and even death.

All of those arguments are fallacies. Kids generally love to be outdoors. There’s probably a hiking trial within a few miles of your house, even if you live in the middle of a major metro area. Hiking these trails often only takes a couple of hours or at most an afternoon. Walking a day hiking trail is a good way to get back into shape. Hiking also is very inexpensive, requiring very little gear or clothing that isn’t already in the closet and not requiring any hotels or restaurants. You generally don’t need to pay entry fees (and when you do they’re typically low), and usually there’s no place where a child can demand you buy toys.

More than likely, the real reasons you’re not hiking is because planning for a trip can be intimidating, and as a parent you have real fears for your children’s safety. This book will guide you through the planning process and giving you the knowledge to ensure you and your children remain safe. After all, both you and your children will benefit in a number of ways from hiking.

Read more about day hiking with children in my Hikes with Tykes guidebooks.