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Backpacking with Kids

Written by Jana Angeles

If you think backpacking with kids is a nightmare, think again. Carefully planning this cost-effective way of travel can benefit you and your family – to see the rest of the world while saving money is always a great idea, especially if funds are tight. Backpacking is a whole new level of travel because you get to explore and soak up the country’s atmosphere.  

It’s not so much about hiking the mountains or seeing the natural habitat – it’s about being adaptable to change while also making the most of what you’ve already packed in your bag. Having kids while backpacking can be a little tricky but with careful planning, you and your family will have a trip of a lifetime! 

Here are some helpful tips to know when it comes to backpacking with the kids: 

Choose accommodation that is kid-friendly 

Selecting hotels, Air Bnbs, hostels and guest houses are all great options when it comes to choosing what accommodation is best fit for you kids and family. It’s important that you choose somewhere the kids will love and enjoy. Because they have lots of energy, selecting a place where it is spacious and can play with other children is always a good idea. Sometimes we need a break from our children, so giving them space so they can entertain themselves will give them a chance to feel comfortable in the country that you’ll be exploring. 

If your kids are carrying a backpack, make sure it is fitting and comfortable 

We don’t recommend kids carrying their backpacks if they are too young or small in size. When they reach the prime age of 10-12, you can consider getting a backpack of their own. It’s important that you ensure that the backpacks are easy to carry. The last thing you want is to carry an extra few kgs of stuff when you already have so much packed in your backpack! 

Less is more: Don’t bring too many toys and clothes!  

To survive any backpacking trip is to only pack the essentials. Bringing too many clothes and toys for the kids is not a good idea, only because of the extra weight you’ll most likely carry. Plus, because you’ll be exploring and walking so much, you might lose these things along the way.  

Bring only toys your kids can’t leave without and clothes that are suited for every type of weather. Also, when it comes to packing, leave some room for any cool toys or souvenirs your kids have encouraged you to buy while travelling. It’ll be a great keepsake for years to come. 

Pack some snacks and always bring water  

Bringing snacks when the kids are feeling a little peckish can help them feel sustained when they are walking around for a length of time. Ensure they are not taking advantage of these and let them know they are only available if they are genuinely hungry. Bringing water is always an important essential to keep the kids hydrated and preventing any chance of dehydration.  

Carry a medical kit  

Anything can happen while you travel so bringing a medical kit is a smart thing to do. Kids fall over and scrape their elbows, knees, legs and arms, so having some bandaids/bandages and antiseptic within reach is handy. Include any first aid manuals so you are aware of the appropriate CPR and first aid incidents you need to follow. If you feel like you’ll be out of reach when travelling to a particular country, make sure you take note of the nearest hospitals and write down any important numbers you need to know just incase of an emergency. 

Don’t place high expectations on your kids – let them have fun! 

You might’ve done backpacking in your 20s and explored the Northern and Southern hemisphere far and wide. It’s important you remember that kids are kids. Though they have more energy than adults, we have to remember they get exhausted too and don’t have the physical capacity to do more than us. Don’t expect them to walk far distances without any breaks – be realistic when you try and plan out your backpacking trip. Most importantly, let them have fun and choose activities they’ll thoroughly enjoy.  

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