Sometimes the hardest part of the adventure is getting out the door. Gathering all the needed items, dressing the kids, finding the lost shoe, feeding everyone, the list goes on and on. This can feel so overwhelming. We know! We have been there, too.
But with years of experience preparing our family for adventuring, we put together some simple tips to help your family be prepared for your next family outing. Remember that adventure means any kind of family time. You don’t have to be rushing down the black diamond run at the ski resort. Maybe you are just walking to the park. What matters is that families that spend time together are stronger. That is why we want to help you love adventuring.
1. Get Special Items Ready
- Tickets or Passes
- Weather Appropriate Clothing
The most important thing to prepare is anything that is special or unique to your adventure. Make sure to print your tickets, or have them on your mobile device. If you are going somewhere that needs special clothing like snow pants or a swimsuit, put them on the list so that they are not forgotten. Not every adventure has special items that are needed, and that is why this is the most important. You won’t be able to adventure without them.
2. Gather Things the Day Before:
- Pack bag with snacks and water bottles
- Have directions ready
- Passes or maps or junior rangers or any other items
- Charge your phone or camera
Our biggest suggestion is to prepare things the day or night before. When our children were little and in diapers, this helped us immensely. Once everyone was in bed, we would pack the diaper bag with the necessities: diapers, snacks, water bottles, extra clothes, etc. If we needed to grab any passes or directions, we did that, too, and stuck them into the bag.
Make sure to charge devices. You don’t want to have your phone or camera run out of battery right before you finish the hike or sit on Santa’s lap. So plug everything in the night before.
One of our favorite items is a hiking backpack. This backpack comes on every outdoor adventure, not just hiking. It has basic necessities that can live in the backpack so we don’t have to look for them every time we go somewhere. It hangs in the closet by the coats. This backpack has made preparing for family outings much easier. Here is what we keep in our hiking backpack that has paid off many, many times:
- Bird book (we are huge birders)
- Rain ponchos (small, disposable)
- Suckers or Jolly Ranchers
- Garbage sack
- Small first aid kit with neosporin, bandaids, and medicine
The sunscreen and the candy are the only things I have to check for expiration dates. Everything else lasts really well, and I just replace as needed. Having everything in this backpack has made our lives so much easier. Then I toss in a few snacks and water bottles and we are ready for an adventure.
3. Have a Few Basic Adventure Items
We are often asked about what gear we like. We try to keep things really simple, so we haven’t ever purchased specific hiking shoes or a certain backpack. Families can be expensive, and we don’t think adventures need to cost a lot of money. So use a backpack that you already have. We purchased our backpack 20 years ago and it is still going strong. It was a simple Wal-Mart purchase. This backpack is similar to what we use with a few pockets to store things and extra pockets for water bottles, cameras, and other gear.
Camelbaks: The one thing we can’t live without
That being said, there is one thing that we can’t live without. This purchase has been a game changer in our adventuring. We purchased these Camelbaks for our kids when they were small, and it had made a huge difference. First of all, the kids now carry their own water and snacks, which means less for mom and dad to carry. Second, the kids love being responsible for their own stuff. The camelbak allows them to drink and eat when they want on the trail, as well as store little things in the pockets like feathers or rocks they might find. Remember not to take things from National Parks.
So if you make one purchase, we highly recommend these hydration packs. They are small and perfect for young kids. Our boys used them until they were about 13, and then we upgraded them to this larger water pack.
Finally, my knees started hurting a few years ago, so I purchased some hiking poles and found that they do help. I am not always the best at remembering them, but when I do, I’m grateful. I grabbed some at Costco, and this is where I purchased our microspikes for hiking on the ice. Here are the links if you’d like to look at what we recommend for spikes or poles, but keep your eyes open at Costco, too.
Preparation Makes It Easier
We know that being prepared will help adventuring be a happier experience. Everyone will love having a full water bottle and a snack in their backpack. Taking a few moments to prepare for your family outing the day before will honestly make a world of difference. Happy Adventuring!
Check out our hiking tips for other ways to make adventures easy. Or if you are unsure what type of adventure to try, use our guide to help you narrow things down.