As we clearly move from winter to summer with a brief pit stop by spring, the outdoors beckon. The weekends and holidays will be a nice treat to get away from the normal routine. Whether you want to go with a large group or a small one. Here are tips of getting ready to go for a hike we dug up from our archives.
Many parents are intimidated by the idea of hiking with young children, but that doesn’t have to be the case, according to touring experts Beijing Hikers and Beijing Sideways. Founded in August 2001, Beijing Hikers is an outdoor group founded by hikers for hikers. They organize frequent excursions around Beijing. Beijing Sideways allows visitors to see the city from a motorcycle sidecar with day trips and overnight stays at the Great Wall. Here, both groups offer their tips for trail hiking with kids.
Before the Hike
First, find out if the outing or hike is suitable for kids. At Beijing Hikers, it depends quite a bit on the individual child and whether or not they’re used to being outdoors. The group rates its hikes from 1-5 (1 being the easiest and 5 being the toughest). Try the easiest hikes first to get a sense of where your family fits in on the difficulty scale, then contact Beijing Hikers about the suitability of the hike that you’re interested in.
Check the weather forecast and dress accordingly. Bring some extra clothes in case the weather isn’t as nice as forecast. In general, hikers should wear loose and light-colored clothing in the summer, with a hat and sunscreen. During the rainy season, take a waterproof outer layer with a change of clothes to leave in the car. In the winter, wear thermal layers, a waterproof outer layer, and a scarf, gloves, and hat to cover any exposed skin. Bring extra warm clothing, just in case.
During the Hike
Always take care of yourself, so that you can take care of your children. This includes staying well-fed and well-hydrated, and having good hiking shoes, so you don’t lose your balance when carrying or helping your kids on the trail.
When hiking with kids, take it easy in the beginning, and add more challenges later. For example, you can repeat the same trails by walking together the first few times, then allowing the kids to range ahead once they’re more familiar with the route. Parents can also set a theme for the outing (e.g. “Our mission is the climb the Great Wall” or “We’re going to look at the autumn colors”) to make things more fun.
For families with younger children, it’s a good idea to set up base at a nice spot and explore the surrounding area from there. Talk to them about what they’re seeing, whether it’s insects, animals, people, or landscapes. Like with any outing, you’ll have to respect or adjust to your child’s napping and eating cycles. “I know that I can have my kids nap in the baby carrier or in the car, if they have their baby seat,” says Beijing Sideways Founder Gael Thoreau. “Our oldest (age 2.5) can skip the nap if we just put her to bed early after the hike.” He says it’s even easier for breastfed newborns, who spend most of their time sleeping and wake up mainly to feed. “My first-born was on the Great Wall at 15 days [old],” recalls Thoreau. “We went there to escape the July heat!”
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