Within the first couple years of our marriage, we drove across the country & back, traveled to several new countries, bought mountain bikes, and logged many hours outdoors hiking, paddle boarding, and camping. When we found out we were pregnant, I knew that I wasn’t going to stop doing the things I love just because I would now be a mom. I hope you know that can be true for you too! If you are a new or expecting parent that lives an adventurous lifestyle, here are 5 tips on How to Raise Adventurous Kids & Good Travelers.
1. Start Young
You want to get your baby accustomed to the adventurous part of your life just like any other routine they’re learning, right from the beginning. We took our daughter on her first hike at 8 weeks old. Basically, as soon as I felt good enough to walk 2 miles, we did it on a trail. Be prepared with gear that will make your favorite activities easier with a baby. For example, if you are an avid hiker, invest in a good quality child carrier backpack! Or if you love water sports, purchase a life jacket that will allow your baby to safely come with you. Make sure anything you’ll need is on your baby registry or find gently used second-hand items.
We started young by taking our daughter on her first road trip & overnight stay at 3 months. Then her first airplane ride was at 5 months. I am not saying if you didn’t start this young, you’re screwed. If you have a baby on the way or who is still little, plan something as soon as possible! Find ways you can adventure with your kids in whatever stage you’re in right now. The younger you get them out and about, the easier it will be to go on adventures together when they’re older. It will become a normal part of their life, as well as yours!
2. Go frequently
You don’t have to go on a big vacation every month of the year. You don’t even have to leave your home state. Just go do something frequently enough that gets them out of their normal home environment. Familiarize your kids with the outdoors and show them the excitement of exploring new places. Teach them to go with your crazy ideas by simply taking them! They adapt so quickly and will know the drill for traveling, hiking, camping, etc if you’ve started doing it early on in their life. And just think, they might catch the same passion for the things you love to do too.
3. Practice sleeping on the go
You will be forever grateful that your kids can sleep on the go and wherever you take them. This makes it easier to carry on with plans for your trip rather than having to stop everything for nap time in a darkened room. How do you teach them? Practice! Don’t stay home all the time. Get out, stay at your friends house, go for walks with them in a sling or carrier on you, do the things you normally would do. Give them opportunities to sleep in different environments.
Our daughter hated the car for the first few months of her life, which was difficult. Once she adjusted though, I could bank on her sleeping in the car if it was nap time. We now plan road trips around nap or bedtime so that we don’t have to keep her entertained the entire way and she can stay on a loose schedule!
What happens if baby falls asleep in the car and you want to get out of the car? This transition can be a major challenge, but this is one of my best tricks. Bring a portable sound machine or have the sound available on your phone. Leave the car running so when you open their door to get them out they still feel & hear the hum of the car. Carefully take the infant seat out of the car and carry them in with the sound machine on. Gently rock the car seat as you put it down or click it into your stroller. Viola, they are still sleeping in their car seat, but now in whatever location you want to be! It has worked like a charm for us.
4. Be flexible
Things aren’t probably going to go exactly to plan. It’ll be very different than when you traveled & adventured before baby. You might not get to do everything you planned and your itinerary will probably have to change as you go. Sometimes you will have to call it a night earlier than you want in the name of keeping your baby (and yourself) happy.
This was one of the biggest challenges for me as a new mom because I have such a type-A personality. I was no longer fully in charge of what happened, I was subject to this tiny adorable human’s needs and desires. I could no longer perfectly plan out every day of our vacations. If you are anything like me, loosening your expectations of how your travels will look will be essential to enjoying your adventures with your kids.
5. Have fun.
Because that’s the point, right? Making memories and teaching your kids invaluable lessons through travel and adventure is something they’ll forever be grateful for. It doesn’t really matter if you get to check off the entire to-do list for your destination as long as you had fun with your family. Again, keep a flexible mentality about your trips and adventures with your kids and focus on making the best of your time together. You might have to find new interests or ways to modify your favorite activities to accommodate your children. In the end, your kids will learn to be adventurous like you through the positive experiences they have throughout their life.
For family friendly itineraries and destinations read my other posts here!