Discovery, Tips & advice, Walking

12 tips for great family walking

18 Aug , 2016  

Many families do report that they enjoy successful walking holidays together. But what if you are not at this stage, yet you would love to be?

Perhaps you have young children and you can’t ever imagine getting back to the hiking trails you loved before the kids came along. Then again, you might have older children who seem reluctant to leave behind their games consoles or phones to join you for even the shortest of strolls.

However, we reckon there are ways and means to getting out for a brilliant walk with all the family. And once you know how – and have shown the kids how enjoyable it is – you will find there are all sorts of great walking family options to consider.

1 Go easy at first: If you plan to go too far or make the walk too strenuous you’ll put the kids off straight way. So make sure that the first few walks are very easy-going. Find a route that is close to home so there is not too much travelling to get to the walk.

2 Go slow: Children like to explore new environments, so let them wander and discover new things as you walk. Don’t focus so much on making it to the end of the trail, getting to the top of the hill or getting there in a set amount of time. The more that children are able to encounter and experience, the more likely they are to want to do it again.

3 Make it an adventure: Rather than suggesting it’s a walk, tell the kids you have planned an adventure. Select a route that has various features that your children might enjoy looking at such as flora and fauna and great scenery. Other great places to visit as part of a walk are islands, beaches, playgrounds, cafes, ice cream outlets, tourist attractions.

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4 Just for fun: Remember, most children have short attention spans and so looking at nothing but trees or fields for miles on end can get boring. Why not invite them to enjoy a treasure hunt or a game of I-spy as you walk? Or how about a night-time walk for something different?

5 Embrace technology: Let them hunt enjoy Pokemon Go as part of  walk or show them a number of apps, such as GeoCaching, to use modern GPS as part of the route finding. Walking can be modern, too.

6 A bit of a challenge: Older children will appreciate being involved in the planning of a walk. Get out the maps and let them find a good route or a place to walk to. They could also check out walking websites with you. For example: Check out National Trust, National Parks and the National Geographic website for a good family hike. You can download routes on to GPS gadget and phone apps so they can lead you on the walk.

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7 Bit by bit: You could inspire children to complete on a long-distance walk but in stages. There are many such routes and they can easily be walked for a few hours at a time. You can print off a large-scale map so that the kids can tick off sections that have been completed.

8 Hill bagging: Children enjoy tick lists so how about starting a hill bagging list. Bagging hills means getting to the top of them. You could choose to walk to 10 hill top trig pillars or check out Hill Bagging for other ideas.

9 Snap happy: Take lots of photos of the walk so you look back and remember the enjoyable outing with your kids. You could start a digital photo album of your family walks. With the advances of cameras on phones it’s easy for all the family to take photos and store in one album.

10 Be prepared: It is important that you prepare for just about everything when going on a family walk. Essentials include water, snacks, small first aid kit, waterproof jackets, map, compass and binoculars. Also make sure you’ve checked the weather. Pack the kit in a good quality rucksack and if you have very small children or babies you could make use of a backpack carrier for them.

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11 The right dress code: No matter how simplistic the hiking trail you’ve chosen, it is still important to dress accordingly. Wear layers for warmth and make sure you take spare clothes in case the weather changes. Another must is comfortable walking shoes or boots.

12 Choose the right holiday: Once families discover the joys of walking together many want to make more of the activity by extending their walking adventures. A walking holiday is a great way to spend time together and to see new places. Macs Adventure have a range of holidays that suit families.

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A journalist, web copywriter blogger and social media chatterbox, Fiona combines her love of the outdoors – especially Scotland – with a diverse freelance work life. If she's not at her desk writing about the outdoors, she'll be outside cycling, running, kayaking, snowboarding and walking Munros. She shares her outdoors passion with partner, the G-Force. Sometimes her teenage daughter Little Miss Outdoors tags along, too.