Tell the Kids to Take a Hike (With You)

Getting everyone up and at ‘em can be hard. Especially when it means sacrificing cell phone signals and Wi-Fi. Here are six great ways to get everyone excited about exploring the great outdoors as a family.

Getting everyone up and at ‘em can be hard. Especially when it means sacrificing cell phone signals and Wi-Fi for some good old-fashioned togetherness. Here are six ways to get everyone excited about exploring the great outdoors:

1.    Plan It All Together.
Even if your kiddos aren’t the outdoorsy type, Erin Kirkland, Alaska family travel journalist, suggests giving them some options during the planning process. Planning together will help get everyone excited about the trip, and they won’t feel like they’re being dragged off into the middle of nowhere with their over-enthusiastic parents. Consider presenting a few possible destinations and letting the kids decide. If sibling rivalry turns ugly, you can always bust out the inflatable sumo suits, or just flip a coin.

2.    Bring The Four-Legged Kids.
Did you bring the family dog? Amy Burkert, Pet Travel Expert at, suggests taking them on the trail with you! Your dog will love the new, open landscape and your kids will love sharing the adventure with their favorite furry friend. Dogs are welcome in your Alamo rental car, but make sure to check the regulations in the area you’ll be hiking before you leave. Even when dogs are allowed, there may be specific leash requirements. And remember to clean up after your pet. You don’t want to be the pet owner who caused the stink on the next guy’s shoe.

3.    Go Treasure Hunting.
To get reluctant hikers on the trail, Gem, creator of Hawaii Mom Blog, turns to geocaching. If you’ve never heard of geocaching, it’s basically an outdoor treasure hunt powered by GPS technology. To start the expedition, go to All you’ll need is a GPS device and some cool trinkets to leave behind. Think last week’s Happy Meal® toy, Hot Wheels® cars or a little box of crayons. It could be anything. Almost. Don’t get too crazy, people.

4.    Go Hands-Free.
To get everyone to unplug willingly from their beloved iPads and smartphones, Jonathan Gilde, travel enthusiast, recommends throwing in some activities that require both hands. Things like mountain biking, zip lining or rock climbing are the kinds of adventures you’ll remember forever. Plus, they won’t even miss their phones when they’re holding on for dear life.

5.    Get Them Searching.
Creator of Hawaii Mom Blog, Gem, gets her kids out and about by creating scavenger hunts. Just come up with a list of things to find (e.g. red spotted lizards, purple blossoms, bird feathers). You can even make it a competition by rewarding the first person to find everything on the list! Take it to the next level by giving each family member a pedometer for a little family-friendly fitness competition. Whoever gets the most steps wins! Or go for a game of hiking I-Spy. It’s an excellent distraction from their tired feet.

6.    Art In Nature.
Make your own souvenirs during the trip…like pet rocks. Tell everyone to pick out a rock along the way to decorate when they get back to the hotel room. Just wash them off, add a face with a marker and give it a name! Another fun project is to create leaf rubbings. Collect some interesting dry leaves. Kids can then place a sheet of paper on top of the leaves and use crayons to create a beautiful, nature-inspired piece of art. If they’re young enough, they won’t even notice you spent $0 on souvenirs—until they’re much older and angsty.

Happy trails and good luck!

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Hot Wheels is a registered trademark of Mattel, Inc.