Walking with children: Making an active holiday child-friendly

August 5, 2021 by
POSTED BY August 5, 2021

It is not always easy to plan a holiday with children, especially for those who like to go on an active trip themselves. Is a beach holiday the only option? Not necessary! Follow these tips for walking with children, so that an active holiday can become child-friendly too!

Sycamore Gap
Sycamore Gap, Hadrian’s Wall Path

Create a game with a mission

The hardest thing about walking with children is maintaining enthusiasm. Young minds often get bored quickly and don’t always feel like walking long distances. Therefore, make sure that the walk is a kind of game with an end goal and different missions along the way.

For example, start the tour by looking for the perfect stick. This can then later be used as a walking stick, as a ‘sword’ or to point out things. These assignments give the children a goal they can focus on.

This can also be done by bringing a backpack where they can keep their ‘treasures’. Or give the kids the task to show the way, using signposts or old-fashioned with a map and compass.

Bring enough snacks and water

Walking with children can be a lot of fun, but nothing is more annoying than a child with hunger or thirst halfway through the trip. So bring plenty of water and energy-rich snacks (fruit, bread with cheese and cucumber, nuts, pasta salad, pretzels). Plan many moments of rest so that the children can ‘recharge’.

Find out more about hiking snacks in our post:

Food For Hiking – Hiking Snacks: A Hillwalk Guide

West Highland Way Hillwalk Tours Ltd.
Walking the West Highland Way to Loch Lomond, Scotland

Make it a learning moment

Tell stories about the local area while walking with children. Which plant species do you encounter? Which animals live here? What is the history of this country or area?

Make sure that the children can immediately do something with the information. For example, explain what a particular plant looks like so that they can search for it themselves.

Another option is to learn some words in the local language while walking, such as ‘tree’, ‘road’, ‘rabbit’ and ‘hello’ (when you meet walkers). This will result in an entertaining game of pointing and naming, which is also very educational.

Be well prepared

This is of course one of those hiking tips that always comes in handy, but with children maybe a little more than usual. The day of the walking tour should start with walking – not with a three-hour packing session.

One thing that might be done in the morning is to buy some tasty snacks for on the go. Knowing that they are getting a bag of their favorite potato chips during lunch generally increases the enthusiasm of little walkers.

Hillwalk Tours Ltd.
Meeting the locals on the Dingle Way

Accept some restrictions

Maybe you would have liked to hike 20km, but your child is already completely exhausted after 5km. You may not be able to walk to that waterfall, or you may suddenly have to change the route. Accept that the trip will probably turn out differently than you expect. Give the children the steering wheel and let the route and speed depend as much as possible on their interests and enthusiasm. However, the reward in return is great: you introduce your children to nature and healthy exercise.

Walking with children: where to go?

Those that go hiking with children will of course not immediately be ready for a trip to the Himalayas. Nevertheless, there are numerous walking routes for children that make an active holiday child-friendly.

Beautiful views usually don’t impress children as much as adults. However, a hollow tree, ruin or waterfall can provide hours of entertainment. These walking routes for children are suitable for all walking levels and follow clear paths. Choose a part of the route to walk yourself:

Hadrian’s Wall Path  – This route through the English countryside has little elevation gain, so it’s easy to walk. This trip is perfect for children interested in history, knights and castles. Tell stories about the remains of Hadrian’s Wall.

Causeway Coast Way, Northern Ireland  – Do you have any teenagers who are fans of Game of Thrones? This is the walking route for you! But actually all children will enjoy the sights along the way: adventurous forest trails, fairytale waterfalls, imposing ruins and an exciting suspension bridge.

West Highland Way – Not many things get kids more excited than the prospect of a ride on the Harry Potter train. At the end of this route through the Scottish Highlands is a station of the steam train that appears in these popular films.

Harry Potter steam train along the Glenfinnan Viaduct
The Jacobite Steam Train from Fort William to Mallaig, West Highland Way

We hope that you enjoyed this guide to walking with children: making an active holiday child-friendly. For more information on taking a hiking holiday, just get in touch.