My sister and her husband used to be fitness fanatics. Their weeky routine used to be jam packed with kick boxing, Yoga, swimming and the latest fitness craze. What they enjoyed the most was going for their monthly mountain hike and bush walking trip. It was their way to connect with nature. However, all this changed when they had their first child six years ago. What little time they have left went into raising their first born, work and sleep. Feeling inspired again by their recent family trip to New Zealand, my sister and her family have found that it’s not only possible to go bush walking with kids, you can have a good time doing so. Here’s how!
Find a route with varied points of interest that will make the experience fun and exciting for your kids. If the walk is full of just trees, rocks and not much else then your kids will guaranteed to get bored within the first 30 minutes. Make sure there’ll be plenty to see and do along the way - a waterfall, mountain view or pit stop at a popular cafe that the whole family can stop and enjoy lunch at.
Take into consideration your child’s fitness level and age, set a realistic goal as to how far they’ll be able to (and willing to) walk. There’s no point doing the walk if you’ll be carrying them for half the trip! If this is their first time, start off with an easy trail that you know they’ll be able to manage.
Make sure your kids are dressed appropriately by checking weather forecast the day before the walk. Dress them in hiking boots or strong closed-toe shoes, rain gear, hat and sunscreen. Make sure you dress them in layers so that they can easily adjust the amount of clothing they have on depending on the temperature
Prepare plenty of liquid and snacks to keep their energy level going throughout the walk. Prepare some fruit, nuts and light sandwiches as snacks.
Consider taking the family dog along with you. Having the family dog by your kids’ side will keep them company and make the walk more enjoyable. Note that National Parks do not allow dogs but some State Parks and local parks do, but you’ll have to put your dog on leash. If you do plan to take your family dog along to join in on the adventure, make sure you check up on all this information prior to the walk.
Prepare a first aid kit that contain band-aids for blisters, antiseptic cream for scrapes, bandages in case of sprains and bad bites as well as tropical strength insect repellant to keep mozzies and flies away from your children.
In addition to making sure your kids are safe during the walk, don’t forget to take the time to talk to them and point out all the interesting things you encounter along the way. This is a great opportunity to enjoy nature at its best with your kids so make sure they soak in every tree, bugs, birds and other wildlife on the day.
If you and your family can’t get enough of bush walking after your first taste, incorporate it into your next family camping itinerary. Bush walking makes a great family bonding session as well as a healthy activity for kids. Give it a go this weekend if you and your family are up for something active.