5 tips to prepare for adventure with kids safely
One of the smartest moves you must make for your family is to understand that there is an increased level of vulnerability when you are adventuring with kids. Be quick to accept that fact. Pause. And MOVE ON. Your first offense against disaster/discomfort is research and planning. Spend some time learning WHERE to go, HOW to go, and develop a system that works for your family.
1. Utilize Research Tools:
Before we even leave the house for a new adventure, I spend a few hours doing some research. I have already chosen the shoes/jackets/hats/sunscreen that each person is wearing. I’ve compared a few different trails on Alltrails (often times even reading user reviews to try to gauge what our experience might be like) and have downloaded maps. I’ve looked at the weather forecast, and checked the doppler map. Often times, I’ve even looked at a trail location on Instagram to see how other families have experienced the trail.
My “Go-To” resources are:
Pediatrician: We ALWAYS consult with our pediatrician when we are uncertain. We’ve asked ours about camping at high elevation, sunscreen for newborns, and how to practice safe sleeping methods when we camp.
Alltrails: This is currently my favorite trail map app. I love reading user reviews to get an idea of what a range of people report on the trail. A fit person hiking alone will have a different perception of the trail than I do when I’m carrying both kids.
Weather apps: Weather can change quickly in the mountains. If there is a 20% chance of an afternoon rainstorm, I plan for a 100% chance of a rainstorm. It’s better to be prepared.
Social Media: One of the most powerful aspects of social media in the outdoor industry, has been the ability to learn from others. It has been helpful to see how other families recreate in the outdoors. When I get a question about a trail or area, I love to share my experience or location along with some information about how to practice leave no trace.
2. Remove the Guesswork
My brain functions at 15% of its usual capacity when my kids are around (#distractions). There was even a time where I left to go skiing only to realize I left my ski boots at home by the front door (but I DID bring 3 different dump trucks). The less I have to remember before an adventure, the better.
Lists: I have a packing list for camping, skiing, and hiking of some essentials that I need every time we go.
Keep a stash of items that you need each time in your usual pack. My hiking pack always has sunscreen, bear spray, diapers, extra socks, hats, a change of baby clothes, some extra powder formula and a back up bottle, a headlamp, and a first aid kit. All I need to do is replenish our water and snacks.
3. Streamline your Process
Getting out the door with the kids usually takes about 20 minutes longer than I think it should. There are usually half a dozen trips back inside to grab small incidentals. I’ve learned a few tweaks in how I store and pack makes ALL THE DIFFERENCE in getting out the door and on the trail successfully.
Bin Storage Systems: We store our gear by USE. We have a basic camping bin, with bags/pads/tents. We have a “kitchen” bin that also includes items like campsite lighting, soap, salt/pepper, sriracha, and olive oil. We have an “essential layers” duffel that has a fleece, puffy, waterproof shell, hat, gloves, for each person in our family. When we are heading out the door for any adventure, all we need to do is stack in the bins we need in the car and hit the road.
Optimize your packing: I almost always pack for an adventure when the kids are sleeping. Having some quiet time allows me to think about what we need, and go over my packing lists without distraction. I might be rummaging around in the garage late at night, but I’ve never left my ski boots at home when I’ve packed when the kids were sleeping.
4. Pack a little extra (and a few small comforts)
Now I’m not saying to weigh your pack down with enough water for a week and a whole Harry Potter lego kit. But bringing a little more water/food/formula than you think you might need, and an extra pair of socks, can go miles in providing comfort when things don’t go exactly as planned.
I’ve also learned that bringing a “surprise and delight” item along (like my son’s favorite truck, a card game, or some peanut butter cups) goes a LONG way in keeping everybody happy.
5. Give your little ones a job
I’ve noticed that Huck is much more excited to get out on the trail when he is contributing. His job is to grab our headlamps and our snacks.
Giving your little one some accountability helps instill the pride of successfully planning and executing a big goal- like a hike!
Your preparation and planning significantly impacts your children. Don’t feel overwhelmed- just be intentional. Happy trails!